Bulls close out disappointing season with wierd win over hapless Sixers

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Nikola Mirotic scored 32 points, Justin Holliday added a career-high 29, and the Bulls closed a disappointing season with a 115-105 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.Mirotic hit seven 3-pointers. Holiday made five from long range, matching a personal best. Jimmy Butler added 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.The Bulls wiped out an early 24-point deficit and led by as much as 19 to close out a less-than-golden 50th season on a winning note.That’s little consolation for a team that expected to challenge LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 at 42-40.Robert Covington led Philadelphia with 27 points, hitting six 3s. The 76ers finished an NBA-worst 10-72.Hollis Thompson added 21 points, Jerami Grant had 20, but the 76ers ended the season on an all-too-familiar note.They head into the offseason with about $60 million in cap space and up to four first-round draft picks after former general manager Sam Hinkie gutted the team in recent years. He quit last week via a rambling 13-page manifesto to ownership and was replaced by former NBA executive of the year Bryan Colangelo, whose father Jerry also stepped aside as chairman of basketball operations.With Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol among the top players sitting out, the Bulls looked like they were on their way to a blowout loss in the early going.They were trailing 42-18 and hearing it from the crowd after Covington nailed a 3-pointer early in the second quarter. But with the Sixers up by 21 late in the half, they turned it around in a big way, going on a 25-1 run that extended into the third.The Bulls scored the final 12 points of the half and 19 in a row overall, including a dunk by Butler that cut it to 60-58. After Nerlens Noel hit a free throw, Holiday and Tony Snell capped the run with 3-pointers that made it 64-61 with just under nine minutes left in the third.The Bulls had a 29-2 run which became 39-8. NOTES—The 76ers are the sixth team in NBA history to go a full season without winning back-to-back games. The others were the 1947-48 Providence Steamrollers (48 games), 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers (82 games), 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks (82 games), 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (66 games) and 2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks (82 games)….The Bulls had just eight players.

Bulls shutdown Rose,Gasol,Gibson & Moore—beat Pelicans for meaningless win

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NEW ORLEANS—Jimmy Butler scored 12 of his 23 points in the last six minutes and the short-handed Bulls beat the injury-riddled New Orleans Pelicans 121-116 on Monday night..Nikola Mirotic added 20 points and Cristiano Felicio matched his career high with 16 for the Bulls. Butler was the only regular in the starting lineup. Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and E’Twan Moore sat after the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs when Indiana won Sunday.James Ennis had a career-high 29 points for the Pelicans, who have been without all five of their leading scorers for two weeks. Toney Douglas contributed 21 points, and Tim Frazier had 20 points and 11 assists.With the score tied at 106, Butler took over down the stretch.He converted a layup, hit a contested 3 as the shot clock was winding down, made two free throws and sank a step-back jumper from the corner as the Bulls pulled away.Butler also had 11 assists.Trailing 96-93 early in the fourth quarter, the Bulls scored 11 straight points to go up by 8. Aaron Brooks hit a 3, Bobby Portis sank a tough bank shot, Mirotic had a basket, Portis made two free throws and Mirotic fed Doug McDermott for a layup.The Pelicans were scoreless for nearly four minutes in that stretch but came back to tie it at 106 on 3-pointers by Douglas and Jordan Hamilton.The Pelicans led 62-53 at the half, outscoring the Bulls 11-4 in the last 3:30.The Bulls, who were tied for the seventh-worst shooting percentage in the NBA entering the game, hit their first seven shots. Dunleavy and Justin Holiday each had three baskets before Dunleavy missed a 3-point attempt with 7:03 left to end the streak. The Bulls reverted to form for a while, missing 10 of 15 attempts for the rest of the first quarter, but shot 57.1 percent for the night.Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday had surgery on Monday to repair an orbital wall fracture on his right eye, the team announced. He is expected to recover in six to eight weeks, well before the start of next season. Holiday, who hurt the eye on March 28 against the Knicks, averaged 16.8 points, six steals and three rebounds in 65 games.

 

NOTES— With nothing to play for, coach Fred Hoiberg said Rose and Gasol also will sit out the finale at home. . The last time the Bulls missed the playoffs, in 2007-08, former coach Scott Skiles was fired in December and then-interim coach Jim Boylen was fired at the end of the season. The only player left from that team is Joakim Noah, who has been out since January with a left shoulder injury. . The Bulls finished 16-25 on the road…..New Orleans will miss the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six years and has not advanced past the first round since 2007-08. . The Pelicans finished 21-20 at home. . New Orleans had seven offensive rebounds to the Bulls zero in the first half…..The Bulls are home against Philadelphia on Wednesday to end the season.

Bulls beat Cavs for a ‘stay of execution’.

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The Bulls keep throwing in teases like this to go with all those flat performances.That might be the most frustrating part about their season, and Jimmy Butler would rather not dwell on it.

”What’s the sense in talking about it?” he said.

Butler scored 21 points, rookie Cristiano Felicio added a career-high 16 and the Bulls kept their playoff hopes alive with a 105-102 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.The Bulls took the lead with a 15-0 run early in the fourth quarter and hung on for the win when J.R. Smith missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, preventing Cleveland from clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference even though James scored 33. The Bulls still need to win their final two games and hope Indiana drops its remaining three in order to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

”It shows character. It shows pride,” Pau Gasol said. ”But it’s also very frustrating because if we showed this type of edge and competitiveness every single night, we wouldn’t be talking about this.”

The Bulls are a combined 7-1 against the top two teams in the East, taking three of four from the Cavaliers and sweeping four games against Toronto.They took this one even though James had a huge game, hitting 13 of 17 shots – including 4 of 5 3-pointers. The four-time MVP also grabbed seven rebounds.Smith hit seven 3s and scored 24 points, and Kevin Love added 20 points and 13 rebounds.

”I like where this team is right now,” Love said. ”When we have a win-or-die or win-or-go-home mentality, we’re going to be really, really hard to beat.”

Things got real tight in the closing minute when Love hit a 3 and James scored on a layup to cut it to 104-101 with 30 seconds left.Butler missed a pull-up jumper with about 9 seconds left. Cleveland’s Smith grabbed the rebound, got fouled and made the first free throw. He then rebounded his miss on the second attempt, and the Cavaliers worked the ball to Matthew Dellavedova, who shot an air ball attempting a wide-open 3 with 2.5 seconds remaining rather than pass the ball to James at the top of the circle.

”One more swing (of the ball), selfishly, I wish I had a look at it the way I was shooting the ball tonight, but Delly left it short,” James said.

Gasol then hit one of two free throws to put the lead at three before Smith missed the potential tying 3 off an inbounds as time expired.

For Chicago, Butler scored 15 in the second half, and Felicio did not miss a shot in the game, going 7 for 7 from the field and 2 of 2 on free throws.The Bulls were trailing 84-82 early in the fourth when a cutting Felicio dunked to start that 15-0 run. Felicio also had a driving layup during the spurt, Aaron Brooks added a layup and floater, and Butler buried a fadeaway shot with just under six minutes left to make it 97-84.

NOTES—Taj Gibson (rib contusion) and G E’Twaun Moore (left hamstring) were sidelined….The Bulls are New Orleans on Monday, then close the season Wednesday with a home game against Philadelphia.

Short handed Hawks blow 3-0 lead, lose to Jackets in OT

COLUMBUS—Scott Hartnell scored a power-play goal at 2:28 of overtime, and the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied for a 5-4 victory over the depleted Blackhawks on Saturday night.Hartnell finished with two goals and two assists as Columbus (34-40-8) closed its season with four wins in five games. Alexander Wennberg had a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets, and Brandon Saad added a goal and an assist against his former team.The Blackhawks (47-26-9) were without forwards Artem Anisimov, Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw due to injuries, and defenseman Duncan Keith was shelved by a suspension that runs through the first game of the playoffs against St.Louis. Captain Jonathan Toews and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson were held out for rest ahead of the postseason.Patrick Kane and rookie Artemi Panarin each had two goals and an assist for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who head into their playoff matchup with St. Louis coming off a pair of overtime losses. Corey Crawford made 20 saves in his first game since March 14 after he was sidelined.Kane finished the season with a career-high 46 goals and 60 assists. He is set to become the first American-born player to lead the NHL in scoring and is one of the front-runners for league MVP.Hartnell picked up his 23rd goal when Cam Atkinson’s shot went off him and past Crawford in overtime, ending the season on a high note for Columbus. But it was a mostly disappointing campaign for a Blue Jackets team that failed to qualify for the postseason for the 13th time in its 15-year existence.A season that many thought would take the franchise to new heights never got anywhere, crushed under the weight of an opening eight-game slide. Coach Todd Richards was fired and replaced by John Tortorella.The Blue Jackets got off to a slow start and the Blackhawks jumped all over them. Panarin set up Kane just nine seconds into game, and then scored two of his own to stake the Hawks to a 3-0 lead in the first.

Blues steal one from Hawks in OT.

The battle for the top spot in the Western Conference was almost over. Then Vladimir Tarasenko stepped up for the St. Louis Blues.Tarasenko scored his second goal of the game at 3:37 of overtime, and the Blues cooled off the Blackhawks with a 2-1 victory Thursday night in a possible playoff preview. St. Louis (49-23-9) won for the eighth time in nine games to remain tied with Dallas for the Central Division lead. The Stars, who finished off a 4-2 victory over Colorado right before Tarasenko’s winner, own the first tiebreaker heading into their season finale against Nashville on Saturday, while the Blues host NHL-leading Washington in their finale on the same night.

”We want home ice the whole way,” said Brian Elliott, who made 24 saves. ”Obviously, Washington is going to win that. But in our conference, in our division there, if we can get that home-ice advantage, that’s a big thing. Especially if we get past the first couple of series.”

 

Tarasenko also tied it with 1:16 left in regulation with a laser from the left circle on a rebound attempt off a shot from Kevin Shattenkirk. His team-best 39th goal was an easy one, with Alex Pietrangelo making a nice pass to set up an open net in overtime. ”I was calling for it and thanks, Petro,” Tarasenko said. Jonathan Toews scored for the Blackhawks (47-27-7) which had won five of six. Scott Darling, subbing for the injured Corey Crawford, made 33 saves.The Blackhawks are locked into the third spot in the Central and will face the Blues or the Stars in the first round. ”Hurts, hurts for sure,” forward Patrick Kane said.

”I thought we played a great game up to that point against a good team. You give one up with 1:15 left and then you’re in a position where you have to score in that 1:15 to basically put yourself in a good position to try and get home ice. It obviously didn’t happen.”

Elliott made three stops in overtime. He is 11-0 in his last 13 games, matching a franchise record for consecutive wins.

”You just try to feel good and just play and take your mind out of it and let your body work and trust in your instincts and preparation and just go out and play,” he said. ”That’s the mindset.”

Moments after a pair of penalties sent off a player from each team in the second, Toews made the most of the extra space on the ice. The captain skated into the left circle and sent a shot between Elliott’s legs at 12:40.Toews’ 28th goal of the season extended his points streak to six games. He had a goal and two assists in Tuesday night’s 6-2 victory against Arizona.Before Toews put the Hawks in front, they had been stymied by Elliott all night long. The goaltender also got some help in the first when Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester blocked a shot by Teuvo Teravainen with most of the net uncovered.Elliott also stopped a penalty shot for Andrew Ladd with 4:58 left in the third.The Blues struggled to generate many prime opportunities. A streaking Paul Stastny got to the net early in the third, but was unable to corral an airborne pass in time to get off a good shot. Darling stopped Magnus Paajarvi’s rebound attempt with about three minutes left, and Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk then swept away the loose puck from the goalmouth.Bouwmeester returned for St. Louis after missing six games with an upper-body injury, but rookie Robby Fabbri was sidelined for the fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. Forward David Backes and goaltender Jake Allen also were held out with lower-body injuries, but could return for the playoffs.The Blackhawks played without Crawford and forwards Artem Anisimov, Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw due to injuries. Duncan Keith missed the game due to a suspension that runs through the playoff opener.

”I don’t mind the way we’re playing here,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ”We’re missing five guys in a game I thought we played pretty good and did some good things in a lot of ways, in a lot of areas. I didn’t mind it.”

Crawford and Hossa participated in the morning skate, and it looks as if Crawford will return for Saturday’s season finale at Columbus for his first game since a 5-0 loss to the Kings on March 14.If Hossa doesn’t return against the Blue Jackets, he is expected to be ready for the start of the playoffs. Shaw and Anisimov also are expected to be ready for the start of the postseason next week.

 

NOTES—The 39 goals for Tarasenko are a career high. He had 37 last season. … Thhe Blackhawks went 26-12-3 at home. … The Blackhawks killed off two power-play opportunities for the Blues and have killed off 21 straight overall.

Bulls fall to Heat, it’s almost over.

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MIAMI—Dwyane Wade wanted Miami to view Thursday night as a close-out opportunity, a chance for the Heat to essentially finish off a Bulls team desperate to keep its season alive.In short, a dress rehearsal for any series-clinching scenarios that might await in the playoffs.It went exactly to Wade’s liking.Wade scored 21 points, Joe Johnson added 17 and the Heat beat the Bulls 106-98, putting up 66 points in the second half and making big defensive plays to pull away down the stretch.

”At this time of year, you have to use certain situations to try to prepare us because we’ve never been there together as a team,” Wade said. ”This was one of those situations.”

Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside each had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, which has 14 consecutive games of scoring 100 or more at home – the second-longest such streak in franchise history.Luol Deng scored 13, Josh Richardson had 11 and Amare Stoudemire added 10 for the Heat (46-32), who remained fifth in the Eastern Conference.Jimmy Butler scored 25 points for the Bulls (39-40), who now need a series of miracles to get into the postseason. Pau Gasol finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Derrick Rose scored 17 for Chicago, which could be officially eliminated as early as Friday.

”Obviously it’s not the way that we wanted,” Butler said. ”I think everybody thinks about it each and every day. It probably keeps everybody up late, I know it does for me. But we can’t change it now. It is what it is.”

Rose had a chance at a layup that would have given the Bulls the lead with 3:50 left, only to see it blocked by Whiteside to set up a three-point play by Wade and a 90-86 Heat lead.Moments later, Butler thought he saw someone open in the corner but his pass was deflected for a steal by Wade, leading to more Heat points as Miami kept pulling away.The Bulls haven’t missed the playoffs since 2007-08, when the Bulls finished 33-49. They then beat 60-1 odds to win the draft lottery, getting the right to take Rose with the No. 1 overall pick – while Miami, far and away the NBA’s worst team that season, wound up taking Michael Beasley with the No. 2 selection.Rose isn’t ready to concede.

”Still have three more to go,” he said.

Miami sputtered offensively in the first half, trailing 46-40 at the break. The Heat came out and scored 35 in the third, the 17th time the Bulls gave up that many in a quarter this season. That happened only seven times last season.

Taj Gibson (ribs) tried to warm up before the game, but wound up missing his fifth consecutive contest. … Gasol had a double-double against Miami for the 17th time in his career. It was also his 99th in the last two regular seasons, after leading the NBA with 54 last season. … The Bulls were swept by Miami for the first time since 2003-04, Wade’s rookie season.

NOTES—McDermott’s flagrant foul against Whiteside late in the third quarter was unusual in many ways. Not only was it the Bulls first flagrant call of the season, it was the first time McDermott was whistled for anything other than a common foul in years. He had no flagrants or technicals in his first 117 NBA games, and no technicals in his 145 games at Creighton…..Chris Bosh blogged again Thursday, following up his recent thoughts about beer and barbecue with revelations of what apps he’s using and his affinity for technology. He offered no update on his battle with blood clots or if he’s still hoping of returning this season. Thursday was his 25th game missed since being diagnosed with a clot in his leg at the All-Star break….The Bulls host Cleveland on Saturday night.

 

Hawks rout Coyotes as Anisimov leaves after boarded by former Hawk Vermette.

Andrew Ladd scored two power-play goals after Artem Anisimov was knocked out of the game by a questionable hit from Antoine Vermette, and the surging Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-2 on Tuesday night.Anisimov was driven into the boards near the Hawks bench midway through the second, leading to a boarding penalty and game misconduct call on Vermette. Anisimov, a key part of the Blackhawks’ high-scoring second line, looked woozy as he left the ice and headed to the locker room.

”We’ll say day to day, he should be OK,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

After Vermette and Anisimov left for the night, Ladd redirected Trevor van Riemsdyk’s slap shot by Louis Domingue to make it 4-0 at 12:17. Then Ladd got a pass from Patrick Kane and stuffed it home from the front of the net for the Blackhawks’ third power-play goal of the period.The Blackhawks (47-26-7) won for the fifth time in six games and pulled within four points of idle Dallas and St. Louis for the Central Division lead with two games left for each team. The Blackhawks host the Blues on Thursday night in a possible playoff preview.Connor Murphy and Brad Richardson scored in the third period for Arizona (35-38-7), which was coming off a 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Monday night and has dropped four of five overall. Domingue made 26 saves.The possible loss of Anisimov, who has 20 goals and 22 assists in his first season with the Blackhawks, comes at an awful time for the defending Stanley Cup champions. After sputtering through much of March, it looks as if the Blackhawks found their groove again while taking on a less challenging part of their schedule.Captain Jonathan Toews assisted on Richard Panik‘s opening goal, and then converted a short-handed breakaway to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead in the first.Kane added his 44th goal off one of Artemi Panarin‘s three assists in the second, and Andrew Desjardins‘ first goal since Feb. 17 made it 6-1 at 4:55 of the third.Toews has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. Panarin has a whopping 11 points in his past three games, increasing the likelihood of the rookie star earning a bonus for finishing among the top-10 forwards in the league in scoring – a development that could exacerbate a sticky situation with the salary cap next season.But the Blackhawks biggest concern after sweeping its three-game season series with Arizona was the availability of Anisimov, who centers a line with Panarin and Kane.The Blackhawks already were without goaltender Corey Crawford and forwards Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa due to injuries. Shaw and Hossa are day to day, and Crawford could return for the season finale Saturday at Columbus.Crawford, who has missed 10 straight games, participated in the morning skate and said he felt pretty good. ”I’m itching to get back in there,” he said. NOTES—It was Toews’ 250th goal. … Arizona C Martin Hanzal missed his third straight game with an injury. … Scott Darling made 29 saves for the Hawks.

Bulls fall to Grizzlies, Playoff hopes slipping away.

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MEMPHIS—Zach Randolph had 27 points and 10 rebounds, Vince Carter added 17 points and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a six-game losing streak with a 108-92 victory over the sinking Bulls on Tuesday night.Memphis used a strong defense missing in recent games to turn back the Bulls, who had won three of four. The Bulls never got the deficit under double digits in the fourth quarter of a loss that damaged its playoff hopes.Matt Barnes scored 16 points for Memphis, and Jordan Farmar had 15.Nikola Mirotic led the Bulls with 20 points, going 6 of 9 from 3-point range. Pau Gasol had 17 points and 10 rebounds.Derrick Rose had 12 points and eight assists, while Bobby Portis also finished with 12 points.The Bulls remained two games behind the Detroit Pistons for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Bulls hold off Bucks, still two games out of Playoff slot

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MILWAUKEE—Jimmy Butler shined inside a familiar arena, then exchanged his Bulls jersey in the postgame locker room for a powder blue Marquette uniform like the one he wore during his college days.Butler sure felt at home Sunday night at the Bradley Center.The former Golden Eagles star scored 25 points on 10-of-11 shooting while adding eight assists, and the Bulls held off a second-half surge by the Milwaukee Bucks for a 102-98 win Sunday night.Butler had six points and an assist in the final 3:45, when the Bucks had narrowed a 19-point deficit to one at 87-86.

”The beginning of the game was great. The end of the game was good,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”That third quarter, we have to figure out a way to come out and bury a team when you’ve got them down.”

The Bulls came up with an answer just in time in the closing minutes.Justin Holiday hit a tough jumper from the corner with 1:15 left and later grabbed a defensive rebound on a missed finger roll by Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo with 43.9 seconds to go.The Bulls stayed two games back of Indiana and Detroit, who were tied for seventh and occupied the last two spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

”I think it’s how our backs are against the wall right now, and how we have to win every game and play every possession like it’s the last one,” Butler said about how the team held up in the end.

Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 34 points, while Jabari Parker added 24 for Milwaukee. The Bucks’ franchise cornerstones had their way for much of the night with an array of drives and moves in the paint.But Milwaukee came up just short while playing without scorer Khris Middleton, who was a late scratch with a strained left thigh.

”We missed Khris,” Antetokounmpo said. ”I told (Parker) before the game we have to be aggressive, we have to push the team. We have to make the other guys play hard and just try to compete.”

With point guard Derrick Rose sidelined, the offense went through Butler in the final minutes in familiar surroundings. Marquette plays its home games at the Bradley Center.Butler followed a dunk with a driving layup with 3:04 left after the Bucks had drawn to within one. Butler found Holiday in the corner for his tough jumper for a four-point lead with 1:17 left.For a while in the second quarter, the Bulls looked as if they had never missed Rose or fellow injured starter Taj Gibson.The Bulls tracked down loose balls and hit open 3s, going 3 of 5 from behind the arc in the second. The Bucks coughed up six turnovers in the second and had trouble especially making clean entry passes.By halftime, the Bulls had raced out to a 57-41 lead. It was a bit more nerve-racking for the Bulls in the second half.

”They don’t go by points for who’s in the eighth seed. It’s all about winning and losing,” Butler said. ”If we continue to win, hopefully we’ll find ourselves” in the postseason.

Nikola Mirotic added 19 points and six rebounds.Antetokounmpo and Parker instigated the Bucks’ comeback, just like in a first quarter when they combined for 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting.But without Middleton, the already short-handed team had to give even more minutes to less-proven players.

”We tried our best. We were limited, just one guy away from beating them,” Parker said.

NOTES—Rose missed a second straight game after testing his sore left elbow in pregame warmups. … Gibson missed a third straight game with a rib contusion. Hoiberg said he would test the injury Monday…..Rookie Rashad Vaughn started a second straight game, with veteran G Jerryd Bayless missing a second consecutive game with a hyperextended right knee. … NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson sat courtside and watched as his son, Corey, sang the national anthem. The younger Robinson is a receiver at Notre Dame….The Bulls are at Memphis on Tuesday.