The Starting Five: Bulls v. Jazz

The Starting Five: Bulls v. Jazz

Saturday, March 12, 2011Posted: 3:45 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Following their deadline deal of All-Star floor general Deron Williams to New Jersey--which netted them point guard Devin Harris, rookie power forward Derrick Favors and two first-round draft picks--the Jazz have been struggling. New Utah head coach and former DePaul star Tyrone Corbin was placed in a tough position, having to fill the shoes of retired Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan in the middle of the season, and injuries (such as to power forward Paul Millsap, who is reportedly a game-time decision for Saturday's tilt, due to tendinitis in his knee) haven't helped the situation, causing the free-falling Jazz to sink to 10th in the Western Conference playoff race.

2. Friday's win over Atlanta put the Bulls within a half-game of Boston for first place in the Eastern Conference and with the Celtics off Saturday after falling to Philadelphia Friday, a win over Utah would put Chicago in possession of the East's top spot. However, the Bulls' potential reign alone at the top could be short-lived, as Boston faces Milwaukee Sunday, while Chicago will be idle. Looking ahead--something Thibodeau wouldn't approve of--if the Bulls and Celtics finish the regular season with identical records, April 7, the date when the two teams meet for the fourth and final time, will be very important. Boston was victorious in the season's first two meetings in Massachusetts, while the Bulls won at the United Center in January, meaning a Bulls' win would neutralize the first playoff-seeding tiebreaker criteria.

3. After not playing since Joakim Noah's first game back in the lineup, 38-year-old veteran Kurt Thomas started in Carlos Boozer's place Friday night--Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau made the decision to go with Thomas over Taj Gibson based on not wanting to break up the chemistry of the team's second unit--and finished the evening with 13 rebounds, while also limiting Hawks center Al Horford to six points after he burned the Bulls for 31 and 16 rebounds in a Chicago loss in Atlanta last week. "It can be difficult, but I've been playing a long time," Thomas told CSNChicago.com about being "put on ice," then being inserted into the starting lineup. "That's definitely the first time that's ever happened--the first time I've ever experienced that--but I just love to play. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I just want to go out there and be successful." Thomas added that he felt "a little bit" of rust, "but once the game got going, it's just like riding a bike."

4. When asked about Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf's comments about the team being capable of winning "at least four championships," in light of Saturday's celebration, Derrick Rose responded, "The only thing we can do is just play hard and try to put ourselves in a position to win. He's a great owner. We have great management, from Gar, Randy, Pax and everybody. The only thing we can do is push for it. We have a good core group and hopefully we get there one day."

5. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

PITTSBURGH — Ryan Hartman has played on the right side of that line for most of this season. Now back in the lineup, he knows he has to stay on it.

Hartman will play after missing Monday's game as a healthy scratch when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Hartman took a few bad penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct, against the Florida Panthers last weekend, so he sat vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. The rookie knows he has to get back to the more disciplined hockey he's played most of the season. 

"I don't change my game. I think you take the message and deliver the message," Hartman said. "Obviously, no one likes to not play, everyone wants to play games and no one likes to sit out games. It's definitely something that I took to heart. I'm just going to go out there and just try to play like I've been playing and get on the scoresheet. Just stay off it for the wrong reasons."

Coach Joel Quenneville said Hartman has to stay on the right side of the line.

[VIVID SEATS: Buy Blackhawks tickets]

"Know there are boundaries and sometimes you get watched a little bit more," Quenneville said. "The way they're calling the game, the way it's being officiated, be respectful. You still have to be hard to play against and find that limit, how far you can push it but you get a good feel on that early in games."

The Penguins are on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) and are dealing with some injuries. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that, while Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) is close to returning, he won't play against the Blackhawks.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks lines

Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Tanner Kero-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
John Hayden-Dennis Rasmussen-Tomas Jurco

Defensive pairs 

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

Artem Anisimov (left leg)

Penguins lines

Conor-Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Chris Kunitz-Nick Bonino-Patric Hornqvist
Scott Wilson-Carter Rowney-Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl-Oskar Sundqvist-Josh Archibald

Defensive pairs

Brian Dumoulin-Justin Schultz
Ian Cole-Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce-Mark Streit

Goaltender

Marc-Andre Fleury

Injuries

Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), Trevor Daley (knee), Daniel Sprong (shoulder), Jake Guentzel (concussion), Olli Maatta (hand), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (foot), Ron Hainsey (upper body)

Cubs finalize Opening Day 25-man roster

Cubs finalize Opening Day 25-man roster

Matt Szczur or Tommy La Stella on the Cubs Opening Day roster?

How about both?

Theo Epstein said Wednesday morning the Cubs plan to keep both Szczur and La Stella on the Opening Day 25-man roster with relief pitcher Brian Duensing headed to the disabled list.

Duensing, 34, has been hampered by a back issue this spring.

Szczur is out of minor-league options, meaning the Cubs would have had to either keep him on the 25-man roster or place him on waivers, which would almost assuredly mean they'd lose him to another team.

La Stella has options left and already told manager Joe Maddon this spring he would head down to the minors if asked (something La Stella was unwilling to do in August last year when he refused assignment).

The move makes the most sense for the Cubs, as the need for eight relief pitchers is not as imperative in April when the team has five off-days in the first month of the season.

Of course, the Cubs still have four days left of exhibition action, but assuming nothing else changes, here's how the Cubs roster will look Opening Night in St. Louis Sunday:

Catchers

Willson Contreras
Miguel Montero

Infielders

Anthony Rizzo
Ben Zobrist
Javy Baez
Addison Russell
Kris Bryant
Tommy La Stella

Outfielders

Jason Heyward
Albert Almora
Jon Jay
Kyle Schwarber
Matt Szczur

Starting pitchers

Jon Lester
Jake Arrieta
John Lackey
Brett Anderson
Kyle Hendricks

Relief pitchers

Mike Montgomery
Justin Grimm
Carl Edwards Jr.
Pedro Strop
Hector Rondon
Koji Uehara
Wade Davis

The Cubs figure to eventually make room for Duensing on the roster as the bullpen could use another left-handed pitcher, but those decisions often take care of themselves with either health problems or trade options, etc.

Remember, there is a 10-day disabled list this year in the MLB, so placing a guy on the DL doesn't guarantee losing him for more than two weeks anymore.