WBEZ | playoffs http://www.wbez.org/tags/playoffs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 2 Wild Cards, 2 home teams shut out: Cubs blank Pirates to advance http://www.wbez.org/news/2-wild-cards-2-home-teams-shut-out-cubs-blank-pirates-advance-113234 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ap_926858659682_custom-a6e5f96be8a3b9731474b1c831edc5aaff67250a-s1400.jpg" style="float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo hoists starting pitcher Jake Arrieta aloft after he finished a complete-game shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Arrieta struck out 11 while giving up four hits and no walks. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)" />Behind a complete-game shutout thrown by right-hander Jake Arrieta, the Chicago Cubs advanced to the Divisional Series on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, beating the Pirates 4-0.</p><p>Kyle Schwarber had a home run and three runs batted in for the Cubs and Dexter Fowler had three hits and scored three times. Chicago will open its series against St. Louis at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday. The Cardinals won 11 of the 19 games the divisional rivals played this season.</p><p>The win in the wild card game, a recent addition to the MLB postseason, lets the Cubs advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2003.</p><p>Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole gave up all four runs in his five innings for Pittsburgh, and while the bullpen was near perfect, the team&#39;s bats were ice cold. The Pirates, making their third straight appearance in the National League wild card game, struck out 11 times and didn&#39;t draw a single walk off Arrieta.</p><p>The loss capped two rough wild card games for home teams: On Tuesday night the Yankees were shut out against the Houston Astros, 3-0, in New York.</p><p>The Astros start their series against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, following the 3:30 p.m. ET start of the Texas Rangers-Toronto Blue Jays series. Both will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/07/446741729/two-wild-cards-two-home-teams-shut-out-cubs-blank-pirates-to-advance">NPR&#39;s Two-Way</a></em></p></p> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 09:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/2-wild-cards-2-home-teams-shut-out-cubs-blank-pirates-advance-113234 Chicago Bulls get no respect http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/chicago-bulls-get-no-respect-107147 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP93894188013.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson, left, and Miami Heat guard Norris Cole battle for a loose ball as guard Nate Robinson, far right, watches during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball playoff series. (AP/File)" />When it comes to the Chicago Bulls, I&rsquo;m mad as hell and I&rsquo;m not going to take it anymore. I&rsquo;m not talking about Derrick Rose on the sidelines. Or whether or not Nazr Mohammed should have shoved LeBron James (he shouldn&rsquo;t have; but nor should James have pulled&nbsp; that Al Pacino-worthy bit of overacting on his way down to the boards). I&rsquo;m not even referring to what the Bulls need to do to stay alive in their series with the Heat.</div><p>I&rsquo;m talking about the absolute lack of respect that the Bulls get from the national media covering the NBA playoffs.</p><p>At first it was amusing, watching <a href="http://offthedribble.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/on-stubborn-bulls-robinson-is-a-standout/" target="_blank">The New York Times</a> scramble to give props to the team and to players like Nate Robinson, as the Bulls won their first playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets. Or, to hear some commentators, even as the Bulls trounced the Nets, refer to them as having &quot;<a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1629141-chicago-bulls-vs-brooklyn-nets-game-7-score-highlights-and-analysis" target="_blank">outlasted</a>&quot; their Brooklyn rivals.</p><p>Then, the Bulls&rsquo; started their second series against the Heat. And I really started to really get my rage on.</p><p>Late in the fourth quarter, the Bulls trailed Miami by seven. The announcers stopped paying attention, and started a discussion of the Golden State Warriors. Bit by bit though, the Bulls pulled even with the Heat. Then Robinson sank his 20-footer, which put the Bulls ahead by three. But the announcer, thinking nothing had changed since he checked out of the game, updated the old rather than the new score. He quickly corrected himself but it was too late: the game had indeed changed, and the Bulls went on to <a href="http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=400464356" target="_blank">beat the Heat</a>.</p><p>Of course the game has changed quite a bit since then. The Bull&rsquo;s second match with the Heat was disastrous and the third disappointing. Push has come to shove.</p><p>Some commentators get that the Bulls win <a href="http://espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2013/story/_/id/9249754/nba-playoffs-2013-miami-heat-need-find-footing-chicago-bulls-game-1-win" target="_blank">wasn&rsquo;t a fluke</a> but a result of their hard work learning how to beat a player like LeBron James and a team like the Heat. But by and large, indifference to their play has been replaced by an insistence, at least on the part of some commentators, to talk about the Bulls in terms of the team&rsquo;s &quot;<a href="http://www.wunc.org/post/can-chicagos-bulls-beat-defending-champion-miami-heat" target="_blank">passion</a>&quot; and &quot;<a href="http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/noah-named-2012-13-nba-all-defensive-first-team.html" target="_blank">grit</a>&quot;.</p><p>And that has me seeing red.</p><p>Don&rsquo;t get me wrong. The Bulls do play with a lot of passion. And sure, with all their injuries, it must be painful duty in the paint right now.</p><p>But these are professional players and this is playoff ball.&nbsp; That the Bulls have gotten this far is because they&rsquo;ve trained to get here, and not just because they care or have passion. That&rsquo;s like saying a nurse is great at his job because he&rsquo;s just a genuinely caring person. That might well be the case, or it might not. Either way, it&rsquo;s entirely beside the point.</p><p>Similarly, the Bulls are a good team because in addition to whatever passion lies beneath their red jerseys, they&rsquo;re also incredibly talented. They have discipline. They work hard. They didn&rsquo;t get to the playoffs because they&rsquo;re gritty. They&rsquo;re got there because they have a phenomenal coach and because they&rsquo;ve learned how to play as a team.</p><p>I don&rsquo;t know what will happen tonight at the United Center.&nbsp; I know the Bulls have the skills to win. And if anyone still doubts that, today <a href="http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/noah-named-2012-13-nba-all-defensive-first-team.html" target="_blank">Joakim Noah was named to the 2012-2013 NBA All Defensive First Team</a>, the first bull to make it since the 1997-98 season, during the so-called Jordan years. Chicago has waited a long time for another basketball dynasty, for what some of us think, even if he&rsquo;s been sidelined all season, are the beginning of the &ldquo;Rose years&rdquo;.</p><p>I just wonder when &ndash; if ever &ndash; the rest of basketball nation is going to catch up.</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezacuddy" target="_blank">@wbezacuddy</a>, on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and on <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport#" target="_blank">Instagram</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 13 May 2013 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/chicago-bulls-get-no-respect-107147 Bulls odds improving after Game 1 upset http://www.wbez.org/news/bulls-odds-improving-after-game-1-upset-107090 <p><p>After a surprising Game-1 win against the Miami Heat Monday night, the Bulls&rsquo; odds seemed to be improving. But before what some have called the playoff upset of the decade, the battered Bulls were hardly a safe bet.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bulls2.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer dunks the ball against Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Bulls lead the series 1-0. (AP/File)" />The Heat are the reigning champions and overwhelming favored to repeat.<br /><br />In a ceremony before Monday night&rsquo;s game, LeBron James was named the league&rsquo;s most valuable player for the fourth time in five years.</p><p>The only player to interrupt his reign was Derrick Rose.</p><p>But Rose didn&rsquo;t play in Game 1...or any other matchup this season.</p><p>And yet the Bulls managed to knock King James &ndash;&nbsp;and oddsmakers &ndash;&nbsp;off their game Monday night.</p><p>In fact, Miami was so favored to win the series that in order to win a single dollar off a bet in their favor, you&rsquo;d have to put up $30. Again, to win a dollar...you&rsquo;d have to bet 30.</p><p>But then the Bulls won--and the odds began to change.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of people are betting on the Bulls tonight with the points...it&rsquo;s a lot of points, with 12 points. One book said it&rsquo;s like 80 percent of the bets so far were on the Bulls,&rdquo; David Purdum explained.</p><p>Purdum covers the sports-betting industry for<a href="http://www.OddsShark.com"> OddsShark.com</a>. He said the Bulls odds may still improve if they can get healthy. But, that some players&rsquo; return is more impactful than others.</p><p>&ldquo;Luol Deng coming back would even surpass the impact on the line that Derrick Rose, if he was to decide to play. You just don&rsquo;t know what you&rsquo;re going to get out of Rose,&rdquo; said Purdum.</p><p>Rose and Deng have both been ruled out for Wednesday&rsquo;s game.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s to Bull-ieving...</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 18:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bulls-odds-improving-after-game-1-upset-107090 Blackhawks post first 2013 playoff win in overtime http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-post-first-2013-playoff-win-overtime-106918 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bickells_ot_winner_jim_prisching.jpg" style="height: 346px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Chicago Blackhawks won Monday night in overtime with Bryan Bickell's goal, (AP)" />The Blackhawks quest for the Stanley Cup began Monday with a 2-1 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild at the United Center. The game winner came off Bryan Bickell&rsquo;s stick in the extra period.</p><p>Even before Jim Cornelison belted out the National Anthem, a mini drama played out at the opening playoff game. Minnesota starting goaltender, Niklas Backstrom, was injured during warm-ups and had to be helped off the ice.</p><p>Minnesota coach Mike Yeo called it a &quot;lower body&quot; injury. The Wild had to rely on Josh Harding between the pipes. The 28-year-old goalie played in only five games this season. His last start was in January. (The underlying story this season about Harding is his health. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November. Harding would not comment on his situation, but after the game several Blackhawk players mentioned their admiration for him. During the game, actor Michael J. Fox tweeted, &quot;NHL playoffs! Yes!!! Josh Harding...Great story&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>Harding and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford both had good games with great defense in front of them. Minnesota was the first to score when Cal Clutterbuck got a shot past Crawford in the first period.</p><p>The Hawks didn&rsquo;t have the playoff intensity needed in the first period and the crowd was passive until the start of the second.</p><p>Early in the second period, Minnesota&rsquo;s Zach Parise was penalized for crashing into the Hawks&rsquo; goalie. Patrick Kane&rsquo;s pass to Marian Hossa took advantage of the power play and Hossa tied the game 1-1. Keith also earned an assist.</p><p>That goal and the subsequent penalty kill brought the fans back into the game. The Blackhawks&rsquo; fan base wants this club to provide action &mdash; and wins. Nothing but hoisting the Stanley Cup is on their minds.</p><p>The game remained tied into the third period. With ten minutes left in regulation there was a scrum at the Wild&rsquo;s net. It appeared that Jonathan Toews had scored, but referees blew the whistle. After the game, the Hawks captain said he thought the whistle came rather quickly.</p><p>Regulation ended with a 1-1 tie. Since playoff hockey doesn&rsquo;t have a shoot-out, it is regular periods until someone scores. The Hawks have played overtime in eight of their last nine playoff games.</p><p>Last night with just over three minutes left in the first overtime, Johnny Oduya knocked the puck into the boards to a streaking Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg gave it up to Bickell for the score and win.</p><p>Coach Joel Quenneville gave his team the day off from practice Tuesday. They will play game two at 8:30 p.m. Friday.</p><p>Goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland both have lower body injuries and are likely to stay off the ice Friday.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/CRayeStout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a></em><https: crayestout="" twitter.com=""><em> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></em></https:></p></p> Wed, 01 May 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-post-first-2013-playoff-win-overtime-106918 Bulls look to bounce back in Game 2 tonight http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/bulls-look-bounce-back-game-2-tonight-106761 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bulls_seth_wenig.jpg" style="float: right; height: 297px; width: 300px;" title="Bulls hope to have a better outcome tonight in Game 2 against Brooklyn. (AP/File)" />Panic for the Bulls? No, leave that reaction to the fans. Concern? Not quite yet.</p><p>On Saturday, the Bulls had an embarrassing 106-89 loss to the Nets in Brooklyn.</p><p>A win tonight is not a must, but to leave New York down 0-2 would be tough when they return to play in Chicago on Thursday.</p><p>It was a surprise that Joakim Noah was able to start the playoff opener after he indicated Friday that he may sit out with his sore foot. Although Noah was limited and is dealing with pain, his effort was noble against the Nets All-Star center Brooks Lopez.</p><p>After Sunday&rsquo;s practice, coach Tom Thibodeau said Noah and a banged up Kirk Hinrich will both make the effort to be in the starting line-up. Hinrich suffered a thigh bruise from a screen set by Brooklyn&rsquo;s Reggie Evans.</p><p>What do the Bulls need to steal a win at the Barclays Center?</p><p>Turn up their defense and try to get the Nets Deron Williams out of any shooting rhythm. The Bulls strongest attribute is their defense. \If they let down that part of their game they are sunk. You cannot allow a team to shoot 55 percent from the field in the playoffs. Williams is not the only Brooklyn weapon, but is their best.</p><p>Lopez is a good scoring center, but he can also be scored on. The Bulls collectively have to make the Nets work on every offensive possession, no easy baskets, otherwise, their confidence will improve as the game and series continues.</p><p>If there is one player the Bulls need to get back on his game, it is Luol Deng. His leadership as a defender and movement without the ball allows the Bulls to score. There is no telling if Deng is bothered by the several injuries he endured over the course of the season. His role is essential if the Bulls want to extend and possibly win the series.</p><p>The only players who had decent offensive stats in Game 1 were Carlos Boozer with 25 points and 8 rebounds and Nate Robinson with 17 points off the bench. They need more production up and down the lineup. Points-in-the-paint is a matter that the Bulls will want to dominate and get to the free throw line.</p><p>Thibodeau needs to &ldquo;coach up&rdquo; tonight. Playoffs are about a series of adjustments, and it is up to Thibodeau to make them. Maybe Noah should come off the bench. The Bulls are a battered and bruised team and they have to go in now as &ldquo;Road Warriors&rdquo;. They have to take the crowd out of the game, attack the Nets and grab the tempo. If the Bulls can make it more their plodding and physical style, it makes it a tougher game for a crowd to get into.</p><p>It doesn&rsquo;t feel right to see Derrick Rose on the bench. It must be a reminder to the team of what they are missing, especially since he has been working out and practicing. Right now mental focus is a factor and having Rose there may be a distraction.</p><br /><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout </a>and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame&nbsp;</a></em></p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/bulls-look-bounce-back-game-2-tonight-106761 Bears keep their hopes alive with a win over Arizona http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/bears-keep-their-hopes-alive-win-over-arizona-104551 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/rsz_charles_tillman_int_score_arz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Bears defense got back to scoring, the offense did just enough and the end result was a 28-13 win over Arizona. The win snapped a three game losing streak and improved the Bears record to 9-6.</p><p><strong>Bears scoring &ldquo;D&rdquo; got on track&rdquo;:</strong></p><p>The last time the Bears defense scored a touchdown was way back on November 4<sup>th</sup>, when Brian Urlacher scored on his interception against Tennessee. That was when everything was going well, and the Bears were flying high with a 7-1 record. It seems to be no coincidence that the defensive scoring drought paralleled the Bears downward spiral.</p><p>The defense scored twice against the Cardinals.&nbsp;In the first quarter with Arizona backed up to its end zone, Cardinal running back Beanie Wells fumbled the ball and Bears cornerback Zack Bowman pounced on it for the game&rsquo;s first score. Charles Tillman intercepted Arizona&rsquo;s Ryan Lindley and ran ten yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Tillman has been the teams best defender all season.</p><p>This year the Bears defense has scored nine times, one more would tie the NFL record.</p><p>Defensive end Julius Peppers had a solid game with three of the four Bears sacks in the game. It helped the defense to have cornerback Tim Jennings back from his shoulder injury.</p><p><strong>Bears Offense spotlighted by Marshall and Forte:</strong></p><p>While Jay Cutler did just enough to win, he was 12 of 26 for 146 yards with 1 touchdown and no interceptions. The Bears quarterback led the team on a scoring drive in the second quarter that was capped by a Matt Forte four yard touchdown run. The Bears running back rushed 12 times for 88 yards. Forte did leave the game in the second half with an ankle injury and did not return.</p><p>Cutler engineered the two minute drill with no time outs at the end of the second quarter. Brandon Marshall came up big with an 11 yard touchdown pass reception in the closing seconds of the half.</p><p>Marshall has been the Bears MVP on offense this season. He battled all game long with Cardinal cornerback Patrick Peterson. He won some battles and lost some. He finished with six catches for 68 yards. Marshall broke the team&rsquo;s single season mark for reception yards he now has 1,466 yards with one game left.</p><p><strong>Special teams not so special:</strong></p><p>The Bears Olindo Mare had a blocked field goal that scored the lone Cardinals touchdown. There were also two muffed punts; one set up an Arizona field goal. It helped that the Cardinal offense was so inept it didn&rsquo;t have an impact on the game.</p><p><strong>One game left&mdash;maybe more?</strong></p><p>The victory does keep the Bears playoff chances alive. There are a few scenarios; the easiest way would be a loss by the Vikings next week. And guess who has to help?&mdash;the Green Bay Packers. Minnesota posted a huge win in Houston on Sunday and maintains the final playoff spot in the NFC.&nbsp; If the Packers beat the Vikings and the Bears go up to Detroit and knock off the Lions the playoffs are in reach. The Lions have lost seven in a row and the Bears beat them 13-7 on October 22<sup>nd</sup> at Soldier Field. If the Bears can eek into the playoffs it would make for a more pleasant New Year&rsquo;s celebration. If they don&rsquo;t, the Bears will have to look back at all the missed opportunities&mdash;there were plenty. &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CRayeStout&lt;<a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">https://twitter.com/Crayestout</a>&gt; and Facebook Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 24 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/bears-keep-their-hopes-alive-win-over-arizona-104551 Turn out the lights at the United Center http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-05/turn-out-lights-united-center-99080 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120510026483.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Philadelphia 76ers' Thaddeus Young goes for the net during Game 6 of the first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. (AP/Matt Slocum)"></div><p>Sports bars may be less crowded now that both the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks are finished/done/gone/on vacation for the summer. Believe me, it will be a long, long summer, as Bulls fans are just putting away their Derrick Rose jerseys.</p><p>It wasn’t too long ago that Hawks fans did the same with their Jonathan Toews sweaters.&nbsp;For the casual sports fan, you have to be distinctive about labeling the sportswear, otherwise the fan-police will correct you and think you are, well, not a true fan.&nbsp;Bulls forward Carlos Boozer told me he was given that lesson when he referred to the Toews’ sweater as a "jersey." Boozer quickly learned that he was wrong and was amused by the staunchness of the correction.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120424123459.jpg" style="float: left; height: 248px; width: 350px;" title="A Blackhawks fan reacts as he watches his team play against the Phoenix Coyotes during Game 6 of the first-round playoffs. The Coyotes won 4-0. (AP/Nam Y. Huh)"></div><p>Putting aside the fans’ fashion sense, there is a lot of sadness, anger and shock about early playoff exits by both fan bases.&nbsp;It has been a few years since the United Center has been silent this early. NBA Commissioner David Stern and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman may not like this sentiment; with both the Blackhawks and Bulls gone from post season, Chicago fans could not&nbsp;care less about who is playing in the post-season, unless they are die-hard fans of these respective sports. (Well, maybe Bulls fans will cheer for whoever opposes the Miami Heat.)</p><p>Otherwise, Bulls fans want to argue and commiserate about:</p><p>►Losing&nbsp;Derrick Rose to a torn ACL (he had successful surgery on Saturday)</p><p>►Should Luol Deng ditch the Summer Olympics for wrist surgery?</p><p>►Why CJ Watson didn’t perform well in Rose’s absence? (How could he give the ball to a poor free throw shooter, like Omer Asik, at the end of a killer game 6?)</p><p>►Why the fans have, and never will, like Carlos Boozer? (He makes a great deal of money, but he does have some pluses)</p><p>►Will and should Tom Thibodeau change his coaching ways? &nbsp;</p><p>Believe me, there is more to ponder; this was supposed to be a magical run to a NBA title, something not seen here since Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson rode out of town in 1998.</p><p>Blackhawk fans have at least a championship that is only a few years old, but once you have the taste of champagne from Lord Stanley’s Cup you want more. Last season, the Hawks backed into the playoffs, and then lost in the first round to the hated Vancouver Canucks. This year’s early exit was to Phoenix, again bowing out in the first round. At least Jonathan Toews was able to play after missing extended time during the regular after suffering a concussion.</p><p>But Hawk fans did see one of their stars, Marian Hossa, get plastered to the United Center ice by Coyote henchman Raffi Torrez. Some fans think that blow was too much for their club. But the regular season showed a bigger concern, their specialty teams (penalty killing and power play) didn’t fare well and it carried it over the post season. Last week, the Hawks addressed part of the problem by firing assistant coach Mike Haviland. But putting the blame on a coach is only a Band-Aid to the problem. There were rumblings that Coach Joel Quenneville would follow his friend, new Canadians General Manager Marc Bergevin, to Montreal. Coach Q dismissed that thought and said he wanted to stay. Blackhawks fans seem to be in the coach’s corner and since the fans are usually "arm chair"&nbsp;general managers, they want the team’s GM Stan Bowman to make changes. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cheryl%20and%20the%20Cup.JPG" style="height: 240px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Cheryl Raye-Stout interviews the Stanley Cup at Wrigley Field after the Blackhawks win in 2010. (Author’s own)"></div><p>Since there are no games left to be played, Bulls fans will carefully watch the moves that General Manager Gar Forman will make this summer. No doubt Blackhawks fans will do the same with Bowman. Both sets of fans will have to wait till next year. Of course they just have to sit next to a Cub Fan to get instructions since they have applied it for a hundred years.</p><p>One personal note, heck, I love covering playoff runs and&nbsp;championships maybe I am feeling rather numb right now.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl Raye Stout on Twitter at @CRayeStout.</em></p></p> Sat, 12 May 2012 22:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-05/turn-out-lights-united-center-99080 Is there any hope left for the Bulls? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-05/there-any-hope-left-bulls-98892 <p><p>The handwriting seems to be on the wall: It is almost incredulous to think this Bulls season could be tarnished by such a gloomy and crippling conclusion. Of course, the season isn’t technically over; each round of the NBA playoffs is a best of seven-game series. But after enduring a pair of beatings in Philadelphia over the weekend, the Bulls are left chasing the 76ers, who now lead the series, 3 – 1.</p><p>Game 3's defensive battle was leaning toward the Bulls Friday night until Bulls center, Joakim Noah, ran the length of the court—right into 76ers guard Andre Iguodala’s foot. Noah rolled his ankle and went down in pain but he tried to stay in the game. But the injury was too severe and the heart of the Bulls team flat lined. Even with a 14-point lead, the Bulls melted in the final quarter and lost. Noah arrived at Game 4 in street clothes on Sunday to watch his undermanned teammates lose, 89-82. The 76ers still need one more win to close out the first round of their Eastern Conference playoff. But the odds of a Bulls comeback are so very slim with two of its stars not on the court.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP%20Noah%20boot.jpg" style="float: left;" title="(AP)">How did this happen? A year ago this Bulls team, led by then-Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau and NBA MVP, Derrick Rose, competed in a hard-fought Eastern Conference Final against the Miami Heat. The series only went five games but each was compelling and exciting to the very end. And even though it was a loss, there was a feeling that these two teams could—and should—meet again this year.</div><p>But this year was quite different. The 2011-2012 schedule was delayed by the NBA lockout—players had to work out on their own and teams were unable to make any player transactions. Once a settlement was reached, a flurry of activity unfolded and an abbreviated schedule was crammed into the league’s calendar. The Bulls would play 16 games in 24 days: 10 on the road and most back-to-back—and there was even a back-to-back-to-back. Few anticipated the toll the schedule would take on players’ bodies. Bulls General Manager Gar Forman spent much of the offseason addressing a preexisting weakness, the shooting guard position. He inked a two-year deal with an aging-yet-productive player, former Detroit Piston, Richard “Rip” Hamilton.</p><p>After four games, Hamilton was sidelined with a groin problem; he returned against his former team, the Pistons, only to re-injure himself, then returned and suffered a shoulder injury—a vicious cycle for the veteran. Between injuries, Ronnie Brewer was inserted into the starting line-up where he has done a nice job filling in for Rip.</p><p>Hamilton wasn’t the only Bull spending time on the trainer’s table. Rose’s injury issues would start with his toe; yet even with the MVP temporarily out of commission, the team remained productive. Rose’s return was met with back spasms that would again sideline him. Guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas III picked up the slack; but Watson would also sustain an elbow injury. The pattern seemed to be set: players would go down and others would come in to get the job done. Veteran guard Mike James was signed and released so many times, he must have stayed at the airport waiting for the phone to ring. Forward Luol Deng tore the ligament in his left wrist in late January and most expected him to be finished and opt for surgery. He doesn’t; instead, Deng sat out six games and returned, in pain, and played anyway. The Sudan native and Rose went on to represent the Bulls in the All-Star game, coached by Thibodeau.</p><p>The rest of the season, for Rose, was speckled by a groin injury, an ankle sprain and a foot injury. Yet, in spite of the bumps, bruises and tough schedule, the Bulls piled up the wins, tying the San Antonio Spurs for the league’s best regular season record. The accomplishment earned the team the top seed in the East. But if the last two weeks have taught us anything, it’s that everything is different in the playoffs.</p><p>For 46-plus minutes in Game 1 at United Center the place was rocking; Rose was in the midst of a triumphant return and the home team was up by nine. All was right in the world for Bulls fans: You could tell Rose wanted to show he was back. He attacked the basket as he had always done—with power and determination. Then, the inexplicable happened. Rose went up and crashed to the floor; something was terribly wrong. He held his left knee and everyone in the building knew it was bad. His older brother, Reggie, was sitting just a few feet away watching Derrick, writhing in pain. There was an air of deep sadness and loss as Rose was helped off the court—and the faces of everyone in the organization showed it. It was a Bulls win with a bigger loss: Rose had torn his ACL and now faces surgery and a long recovery. Questions abound for the team and its head coach: why was he still in the game, what do the Bulls do now, can they succeed in the playoffs without Rose?</p><p>There is no right answer about Rose being in the game at the time, other NBA coaches agree with Thibodeau. The damage is done, Rose is out and there is still a series to be played.</p><p>The emotions of Game 2 were overwhelming. Sure the Bulls had played without Rose during the regular season but this was very different, this was the NBA playoffs—you need your star players; you need your closer. The only appearance Rose made was when he limped out to the middle of the court to ceremonially hand over the game ball to the officials for the opening tip. Later, members of the team told me it was painful to watch—and to be reminded of his absence leading the team. The game reflected that sentiment: the defense was lacking and the 76ers sensed a down team and were able to capture the victory.</p><p>And now, with Noah sidelined, Tom Thibodeau’s mantra, “We have enough to win,” seems rather hollow. Clearly, they don’t have enough to win.</p><p>The Bulls have returned home to play what could be their final game of the season on Tuesday night. They may pull out one more game but the odds of winning the series are decidedly stacked: No Rose, no Noah, no hope.</p><p>Was it the truncated season? Or perhaps a coach who rode his team too hard? Are there deficiencies on the roster—or was it just horrible luck?</p><p>The handwriting on the wall may well become graffiti from Bulls fans when this season comes to a painfully sad end.</p></p> Mon, 07 May 2012 16:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-05/there-any-hope-left-bulls-98892 Philly beats Bulls, ties up playoff series http://www.wbez.org/news/sports/philly-beats-bulls-ties-playoff-series-98733 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP120501047639.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jrue Holiday scored 26 points, Lou Williams added 20 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat Chicago 109-92 on Tuesday night to even their first-round series in the Bulls' first game since Derrick Rose's season-ending knee injury.</p><p>The superstar point guard received a standing ovation and waved to the crowd as he limped onto the court to present the game ball, then watched from a suite as the 76ers simply blitzed the Bulls in the third quarter.</p><p>Bulls forward Taj Gibson said the team misses Rose, but they've got to focus.</p><p>"We really can't worry about not having Derrick right now. He knows that we really have to go without him. We need guys to step up, and unfortunately tonight we couldn't get the job done," Gibson said.</p><p>The 76ers outscored Chicago 36-14 in the period, turning an eight-point deficit into an 83-69 lead, and pulled even with the league's top-seeded team. Game 3 is Friday in Philadelphia.</p><p>Holiday was 11 of 15 from the field, and the Sixers shot 59 percent overall. Williams came up big, going 8 of 13 after hitting just 1 of 6 shots in the opener, and Chicago product Evan Turner chipped in with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.</p><p>Joakim Noah led the Bulls with 21 points and eight rebounds. John Lucas III scored 15 points, but Carlos Boozer scored just nine and Luol Deng finished with eight. More alarming, the Bulls simply couldn't stop the Sixers, particularly in the third quarter.</p><p>Turner scored 11 points in the period, and Philadelphia wiped out a 55-47 deficit.</p><p>The Sixers were leading 68-61 midway through the quarter after a 12-0 run that Elton Brand started with a foul-line jumper. Then, after a basket by C.J. Watson, Andre Iguodala threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk over Deng for a three-point play that drew plenty of oohs, aahs and groans from a crowd that felt this<br>one slipping away.</p><p>Things didn't get much better for Chicago after that.</p><p>The 76ers continued to pour it on, with Iguodala throwing down another vicious dunk late in the quarter and then hitting Williams with an alley-oop pass that made it 83-69 heading into the fourth.</p><p>It was a rough night for the Bulls, who insist they have enough to make a championship run even though they lost Rose to a torn ACL in his left knee near the end of Game 1. After all, they know how to win without him.</p><p>Rose missed 27 games during the regular season because of a variety of injuries, and the Bulls did just fine, going 18-9. Throw in injuries to Richard Hamilton and Deng, and they were able to go with their projected starting five just 15 times, yet they still captured homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs for the second straight season.</p><p>Notes: The Sixers shuffled their lineup from Game 1, with Turner starting for Jodie Meeks and C Spencer Hawes for Lavoy Allen.</p><p>Scottie Pippen says the Bulls still are the team to beat even without Rose. In an open letter to the team posted Tuesday on the Bulls' website, Pippen wrote, "You're still the best team in the NBA until an opponent proves otherwise." The Hall of Famer also compared the loss of Rose to Michael Jordan's first retirement and pointed out the 1993-94 team won 55 games. Pippen said the Bulls "believed in ourselves" and never "felt sorry for ourselves."</p><p>Chicago's Tom Thibodeau finished second in the Coach of the Year voting to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich after winning the award last season.</p></p> Wed, 02 May 2012 05:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sports/philly-beats-bulls-ties-playoff-series-98733 NBA schedule probably not to blame for Rose injury http://www.wbez.org/news/sports/nba-schedule-probably-not-blame-rose-injury-98649 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP12042804827.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The NBA's compressed schedule, with 66 games in four months followed by one day off before the playoffs, was tough on everyone.</p><p>Did it cause more injuries?</p><p>"Yeah, probably," Chicago's Joakim Noah said. "Probably."</p><p>What about the torn ACLs that ended the season for Derrick Rose&nbsp;and Iman Shumpert on Saturday?</p><p>Unlikely, said a surgeon.</p><p>"There is no evidence that wear and tear, or that kind of issue, playing too much, really has any correlation with ACL injuries in any sport that we've ever studied," Dr. David Altchek from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said Sunday.</p><p>Rose, last season's MVP, was hurt in the final minutes of Chicago's Game 1 victory over Philadelphia, and the Knicks' Shumpert went down a short while later. The blame game started soon after, with many pointing the finger at the hectic post-lockout schedule.</p><p>Boston center Jermaine O'Neal, whose season ended early after wrist surgery, wrote on his Twitter page that it was a "clear sign" of fatigued bodies from a condensed season, writing "2 torn acl injuries to key players!"</p><p>But Altchek argues that too much playing could actually make a player less susceptible to the injuries that&nbsp;Rose and Shumpert sustained, because they might lack the type of explosiveness it takes to blow out a knee ligament.</p><p>"In fact, I think if you're tired, you're a lot less likely to tear your ACL because you're not going to be as explosive," said Altchek, who has operated on players such as Josh Howard, David West and Purdue's Robbie Hummel, and been a consultant for the NBA.</p><p>NBA players and owners settled on a 66-game schedule starting on Christmas when they settled the lockout during Thanksgiving weekend. Though perhaps ambitious, both sides saw it as a way to make back as much lost revenue as possible.</p><p>Spokesman Tim Frank said that with respect to the season, the league had "ongoing discussions with team doctors and athletic trainers about best practices and planning for injuries."</p><p>The revised schedule amounted to about two extra games a month for teams, from 14 to 16. Though the league said the injury rate was about the same as in a normal 82-game season, players say they felt a difference.</p><p>"This has been a compressed season, a lot more games, a lot less practice time, a lot less recovery time," Knicks guard Baron Davis said. "You can definitely look at the season and just look at the schedule and say that guys really never got the ample amount of time to rest and heal their bones because you're fighting for playoff position. It's game after game after game. So, you know, it's tough. But there's injuries, there's freak injuries in basketball that's always happening."</p><p>They've knocked out players such as Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Andrew Bogut, Jeremy Lin and Stephen Curry, but most were injuries that could come from excessive usage, such as sprains and strains.</p><p>Alchek said ACL tears, far more common in female athletes, are scary injuries in that there's little explanation for how to prevent them. He said the non-contact version that both Rose&nbsp;and Shumpert sustained are often more prevalent in the strongest, healthiest athletes.</p><p>Contact ACL tears, Altchek said, are the kind that can happen to a football player hit on the side of the knee. But Rose&nbsp;was jumping to stop when he was injured, and Shumpert was trying to maneuver with a behind-the-back dribble when he crumbled to the court.</p><p>Both players battled injuries during the season, with Rose&nbsp;missing 27 games for groin, back, toe, foot and ankle problems. There was a mixture of anger and sympathy around the NBA when the popular reigning MVP went down, possibly taking the Bulls' title hopes with him.</p><p>Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Rose's&nbsp;previous injuries or the schedule did not lead to the ACL tear. But players don't seem so certain.</p><p>"There's a lot of speculation. And it doesn't matter. We're in this season, we played the games, we're in the playoffs now. Hopefully no one else goes down with these type of injuries," Miami's Dwyane Wade said. "It's not anything that we want to see for none of our players to go down with injuries. So you don't know. You don't know if it was because of the condensed season. You don't know what the case may be. The biggest thing is that them guys get healthy."</p><p>Twitter became a forum for debate about the schedule's role even before Rose&nbsp;and Shumpert were in their hospital rooms. Former player and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose&nbsp;listed some players that had gone down, putting the blame on the schedule.</p><p>For some injuries, it may have been. Just not the two from Saturday.</p><p>"There really is no evidence of that, in any athlete, that wear and tear, like gradual wearing away of the ACL, is an issue in terms of the injury," Altchek said.</p></p> Sun, 29 Apr 2012 08:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sports/nba-schedule-probably-not-blame-rose-injury-98649