Bulls hope to continue success in Valley of the Sun

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Bulls hope to continue success in Valley of the Sun

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
10:57 a.m.

Associated Press

Steve Nash believes he is showing no lingering effects from a groin injury that caused him to miss two games for the Phoenix Suns. He will likely need to be at full strength if he wants to try to slow down Derrick Rose.

Rose has guided the Chicago Bulls to consecutive wins in Phoenix for the first time in 21 years, and they'll try to make it three in a row at the US Airways Center on Wednesday night.

Nash returned Monday, and helped Phoenix (7-7) end a season-high three-game skid with a 123-116 victory at Houston. He had 24 points and nine assists, and said he felt fine physically.

"I had it in my mind that I wanted to play, so I was working every day to try to get ready," Nash said. "I felt like I made strides. I went through the day, trying to play, I got here, went through my routine and I was ready."

The two-time league MVP will have to be ready Wednesday since Rose has been the catalyst in Chicago's two straight wins at Phoenix. The Suns had won nine of their previous 10 home games against the Bulls (7-5) before Rose averaged 29.0 points on 67.5 percent shooting in the last two visits.

Nash averaged 11.5 points on 42.3 percent shooting and 8.5 assists in the losses for Phoenix, marking the first time the Suns had lost two in a row at home to the Bulls since dropping three straight from Feb. 4, 1988-Nov. 22, 1989.

The Suns have won three straight at home this season, with Nash averaging 22.7 points and 10.0 assists in that run. Phoenix is glad to have him back.

"He is the engine that drives the car," coach Alvin Gentry said. "He comes out and makes the plays and knocks down the big shots."

In Nash's absence, Grant Hill led Phoenix in scoring in both games with 21 and a season-high 23 points. Hill had 17 points, seven assists and seven rebounds Monday, and is shooting 60.5 percent over his last three games.

"I'm feeling really good and we are finding ourselves as a team in trying to establish our identity," Hill said. "I'm scoring and defending and being productive when I am on the court."

Phoenix ranks last in the NBA in opponents' field-goal percentage at 48.9, and is allowing 109.5 points per game for the second-worst mark in the league.

The Suns will be up against a Chicago team that has been a one-man show on this road trip with Rose scoring at least 30 points in three of the first four games. He had 30 and eight assists in Tuesday's 98-91 loss to the Lakers, although the All-Star guard missed all four shots in the fourth quarter when Chicago was outscored 24-18.

"They put a lot of pressure on us," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The Lakers are a heck of a defensive team. You've got to make quick decisions against them, (and) I thought we settled too much for jumpers."

The Bulls fell to 2-2 with three games left on their annual circus road trip.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

60 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln-Way Central

60 Days to Kickoff: Lincoln-Way Central

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26.

School: Lincoln-Way Central Knights

Head coach: Jeremy Cordell

Assistant coaches: Joe Boseo, John Karales, Ray Kouba, Dan Schwartz, Nick Shaub, Sean Huffstutler, Jason Dewolf, Mitch Nowicki, Ben Garland, Matt Robbins, Mark Ayers, Sean Sornsin, Mark Shafer, Davey Johnson

How they fared in 2015: 4-5 (3-4) Southwest Suburban Conference. Lincoln-Way Central failed to qualify for the 2015 IHSA state playoff field.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Knights merge in new faces due to the district realignment and get into the state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: LB Jake Dudeck, LB/TE Jake Pott

Biggest holes to fill: The Knights welcome back just three returning starters on offense and only one starter back in the offensive skills in FB Nico Muto.

EDGY's Early Take: Lincoln-Way Central will also feel the effects of the closing of Lincoln-Way North as new faces will arrive this fall. Central has been teetering on the 5-4/4-5 line for the past handful of seasons and this is a program that could take off sooner rather than later.

Weekend provides much-needed rest for White Sox bullpen

Weekend provides much-needed rest for White Sox bullpen

A cold beer in hand and shower shoes on his feet, Zach Duke was the epitome of relaxation Sunday afternoon as he leaned back in his chair in the White Sox clubhouse.

A selfie of his feet with a tropical destination in the background is all that was missing.

The chance to relax isn’t wasted on Duke or his relief brethren. After a span in which they combined for 18 appearances in seven games, Duke, Nate Jones, Matt Albers and David Robertson received a weekend pass. While Robertson’s break was interrupted Sunday, the rest of the group is set for three consecutive days without an appearance.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It’s a nice shot in the arm, if you will,” said Duke, who entered Sunday tied for the major-league lead with 39 appearances. “It’s good. To have a little rest time to get through this next stretch of games is big.

“I’m not sure what we’ll be doing (Monday). Maybe we’ll go out to the beach.”

Life has been anything but easy for the trusted members of the White Sox bullpen.

The workload of the bullpen recently included 30 innings in the eight games leading up to Sunday. While the bullpen’s innings pitched this season ranks low (they’re 21st among 30 teams), it’s the type of work they have been asked to perform that has begun to add up.

An inconsistent offense that has failed to put games away has the White Sox tied for the fourth-most one-run games in the majors (26). Of the 78 games played by the White Sox, 41 have been decided by two runs or fewer. The bullpen has the second-highest leverage index -- a statistic that measures how much pressure each pitcher faces -- in the majors.

Basically, only San Francisco Giants relievers face more tight situations than in baseball than the White Sox.

With that in mind, White Sox manager Robin Ventura prescribed mandatory rest for Jones, Albers, Duke and Robertson on Saturday.

“They need it,” Ventura said. “They need a break, it's that simple.”

What has magnified the team’s issues is the losses of Daniel Webb and Jake Petricka for the season and Zach Putnam, who is out indefinitely with elbow soreness and said to be weighing surgery as an option.

Last season, Putnam and Petricka combined for 100 2/3 innings. The season before it was 127 2/3 innings.

With those trusted arms down, Dan Jennings and rookies Chris Beck, Michael Ynoa and Matt Purke will likely have to consume big innings at times. The scenario arose on Saturday when the White Sox rallied after it appeared they had been blown out by the Toronto Blue Jays. Even though they trailed by as many as five runs twice, the White Sox found themselves down a run headed into the ninth inning. But with their veteran arms down, Ynoa was asked to work an inning and surrendered a pair of runs.

“It’s tough to watch those games,” said Robertson, who earned his 20th save in 22 tries on Sunday. “When we’ve thrown six or seven games out of eight days, you need a day because the chances of you going out there and hurting yourself are possible. And you’re looking at the longevity of this team and the arms we’ve got, you don’t want to lose any of your valuable pieces in one game when you might need them later on in September to make that push to get into the playoffs or even in the playoffs themselves. When you get those days off you have to take them, enjoy ‘em. It’s hard to watch those games because you feel like you should be in there. But it’s just part of baseball. Every now and then you need a day off.”

Chris Sale added another day of rest with his dominance in Sunday’s victory. He consumed eight of nine innings and held Toronto in check until he surrendered two solo homers in his last frame. Though the homers forced Jones to warm up, Sale recovered in time to get through the eighth. Two days after he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam, Robertson needed only 10 pitches to record his second save of the series.

But because Sale worked as late as he did, Duke didn’t have to lift a finger. He had a chance to relax and determine what he and his family might do Monday. “Hopefully,” Duke will get to the beach.

No matter what, he knows what he won’t do.

“There’s going to be no baseball involved,” Duke said.

Denzel Washington liked Bulls' Denzel Valentine's name, so the actor tracked him down

Denzel Washington liked Bulls' Denzel Valentine's name, so the actor tracked him down

What happens when you share the same name as Denzel Washington? You get tracked down by him.

After Denzel Valentine was selected by the Bulls in Thursday's NBA Draft, Washington made it a mission to find the Michigan State product.

"I actually talked to him," Washington told TMZ. "I talked to him. I tracked him down cause how many Denzels do you meet?"

We assume not a lot of them, but the actor is probably a reason that there are more Denzels in this world. At least that's the case with Valentine, who was named after his father's favorite actor.

Washington's three Golden Globes and two Academy Awards are a few of his honors throughout his acting career.

Maybe Valentine could follow his footsteps and help deliver some hardware for the Bulls in the future.

Tune in to CSN Chicago or catch a live stream on CSNChicago.com at 11 a.m. as GM Gar Forman and head coach Fred Hoiberg introduce Denzel Valentine to the Bulls.