ANAHEIM—Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula each had a goal and an assist, and the Detroit Red Wings finished off the Anaheim Ducks with a 3-2 victory in Game 7 on Sunday night.Justin Abdelkader scored a short-handed goal and Jimmy Howard made 31 saves as the seventh-seeded Red Wings won three of the first-round series’ final four games to oust the Ducks, who had the NHL’s third-best record in the regular season.Detroit faces the top-seeded Blackhawks in the second round starting Wednesday night at the United Center. It will be the first meeting of the soon to be former Division rivals since the 2009 Western Conf Finals which the Wings won four games to one. Emerson Etem and Francois Beauchemin scored and Jonas Hiller stopped 29 shots for the Ducks, who failed to win their first playoff series since 2009 despite home-ice advantage in Game 7.After the clubs played four overtimes in the series’ first six games, the Red Wings largely dominated the anti-climactic clincher — and for the first time in the series, the Wings didn’t even need overtime to win.
CLEVELAND—The Rush could not keep up with Cleveland Saturday night, dropping a 53-50 decision to the Gladiators. The loss snaps Chicago’s perfect mark on the road, and puts them back at .500 eight games into the season.The game started atypical of the Arena Football League, with shaky offensive showings from both teams. For the fourth time this season, the Rush were unable to secure an opposing kickoff, and the Gladiators cashed in on the miscue, getting out to an early 7-0 lead. Despite the early advantage, Cleveland could not muster any kind of momentum on either side of the ball. Their shaky defense allowed the Rush to score on two separate one-play drives, a 30-yard strike from Carson Coffman to Reggie Gray and a three-yard Kelvin Morris run to put the Rush up 14-7 at the end of one.The Gladiators were finally able to establish some offensive footing early in the second quarter, as their first quality drive of the night ended with a Brian Zbyniewski-to-Thyron Lewis 16 yard touchdown pass. On the offensive side of the ball for the Rush, Rodney Wright made his presence known after a two week absence. The veteran receiver returned the opening kickoff of the second quarter to the Chicago 15, then took the second play 20 yards on a pitch down to the Cleveland 16. After a few red-zone runs, the Rush were able to extend their lead to 20-13. Cleveland responded with a scoring drive to seemingly close out the first half, however it was Wright who returned the ensuing kick 54 yards to give the Rush a seven point lead going into the locker room. The third quarter began with both backup quarterbacks in the game. Cleveland’s Chris Dieker marched the Gladiators down the field without any issues until he hit the red zone, where their drive stalled. Danny Southwick and the Rush took over on the three; however on his first pass attempt he was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, giving Cleveland two points and the ball. In turn, the Gladiators capitalized with a six play, 33 yard scoring drive to regain a two-point lead, which was quickly extended to nine after Dominick Goodman caught his second touchdown of the evening.Faced with a nine point deficit just five seconds into the fourth, the Rush began their most important drive of the evening. Southwick was able to compose himself and put together an eight-play, 48 yard drive. Gray was the go-to option, hauling in a nine-yard touchdown pass to bring the Rush within two.The two teams exchanged four more touchdown drives, with the Rush converting on both two-point conversion attempts to tie the game up at 50 with one minute remaining in regulation. However with the ball and the clock now in their favor, Cleveland conservatively marched down the field, setting up kicker Aaron Pettrey at the Rush four yard line for a potential game-winning field goal with 3.9 seconds remaining. The snap and hold were textbook, and the Ohio State product knocked it through to send the Rush back to Chicago with a 53-50 loss. The Rush will return to action on May 19th as they take on the Arizona Rattlers at the Allstate Arena.
LeBron James came on strong down the stretch to finish with 25 points, Chris Bosh added 20 points and 19 rebounds, and the Miami Heat followed up the most lopsided playoff win in franchise history with a 104-94 victory over the Bulls on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.Norris Cole scored 18, and the Heat pulled out a tight win after blasting the Bulls 115-78 on Wednesday.The Bulls hung in right until the closing minutes, but the Heat simply had too much in the end.James hit just 6 of 17 shots and even got blocked on a layup by Nate Robinson in the third quarter. But the four-time MVP came through down the stretch, scoring 12 in the fourth to finish with 25 points, Chris Bosh added 20 points and 19 rebounds. Norris Cole scored 18, and the Heat pulled out a tight win after blasting the Bulls 115-78 on Wednesday.This time, they refused to go quietly. Never mind that the Bulls were coming off the worst playoff loss in franchise history. Put aside the fact that the ailing Luol Deng and injured Kirk Hinrich (calf) remained sidelined, not to mention Derrick Rose, or that Nazr Mohammed got ejected in the second quarter for shoving James to the floor.The Heat simply had too much in the end.James hit just 6 of 17 shots and even got blocked on a layup by Nate Robinson in the third quarter. But the four-time MVP came through down the stretch, scoring 12 in the fourth.He and Cole hit two big 3-pointers. Bosh perked up after two quiet games, and Miami’s bench outscored the Bulls reserves 36-8.Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 21 points. Robinson and Jimmy Butler each scored 17. Joakim Noah added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Marco Belinelli had 16 points, but the Bulls couldn’t pull this one out.They were within 85-83 when Cole scored on a finger roll with about four minutes left and Miami started to take control from there. James answered a 3-pointer by Belinelli with one of his own, and after Boozer hit a jumper for the Bulls, Cole buried another 3 for the Heat to make it 96-88 with 1:48 remaining.
Marian Hossa and the Blackhawks were well aware they’d been playoff underachievers since they captured the Stanley Cup in 2010.Now, they’re eyeing another championship. And they just took an important step toward it.Hossa scored twice to back a strong effort by goalie Corey Crawford, and the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 Thursday night to win the first-round playoff series 4-1.The Hawks will face either San Jose or Detroit, if the Red Wings get past Anaheim, in the next round.
“We knew we hadn’t done it in two years,” Hossa said. “Minnesota, they still have a great team and are missing some players. We found a way. Now we get ready for the next round.”
The way the Blackhawks have dominated, anything less than a trip to the Stanley Cup finals would be a disappointment for them.They got off to a record start and captured the Presidents’ Trophy for finishing with more points than any other team. Now, they’re eyeing the biggest prize of all. And after bowing out in the first round the past two years, they sure are looking good. Even so, coach Joel Quenneville insisted they need to step it up a notch.
“It’s not the regular season,” he said. “There’s another appetite that we’ve got to get as well. I don’t think we should be happy where we’re at with our play. Let’s get angry as we go along here.”
Hossa scored off a feed from Jonathan Toews late in the first period. Marcus Kruger made it 2-0 with a wraparound early in the second, and Hossa chased the Wild’s Josh Harding when he knocked in a rebound minutes later.Then, after Torrey Mitchell scored for Minnesota, while the Hawk’s Andrew Shaw scored against Darcy Kuemper. Patrick Sharp added his fifth goal of the series early in the third period, and that was more than enough for Crawford.Coming off his second career playoff shutout, he saved 21 shots, and his performance in this series went a long way toward winning over a fan base wondering if he had the makeup to succeed in the postseason. After all, he let in some bad goals against Phoenix a year ago.
“I’m not the only guy in the league that’s given up soft goals in the playoffs,” Crawford said. “You guys like to keep telling me about it, but it’s something you’re trying to learn from and trying to make yourself better from it.”
The Blackhawks became the third team to advance in this postseason, along with San Jose and Ottawa. They also bucked a recent trend of early exits for Presidents’ Trophy winners.The team with the most regular-season points had been eliminated in the first round in three of the previous four years. The Wild were hoping to replicate what the Los Angeles Kings did last year and win the Stanley Cup as the eighth seed, but the Blackhawks simply had too much skill, speed and depth.The Wild were also short-handed after losing one of their top scorers in Dany Heatley to season-ending left shoulder surgery late in the season. They also had to get by without goalie Niklas Backstrom after he suffered a leg injury in warm-ups before Game 1.That forced the Wild to go with Harding, who played in just five games during the regular season after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last summer.
“It was a kind of a curveball there, but I thought Josh played very well. I was very happy for him and way that he handled everything,” the Wild’s Matt Cullen said.
Harding also got banged up in this series. He left Game 4 after a collision with Toews in which his legs got straddled around the left goal post, and he wasn’t sharp in this one, allowing three goals on 18 shots even though he was deemed well enough to start.Coach Mike Yeo turned to Kuemper after Hossa’s second goal. He also insisted the injury in Game 4 wasn’t a factor in Harding’s performance in this one.
“It wasn’t,” Yeo said. “I don’t want to pin this loss on Josh, either. Credit them and their team.”
There was also a question about Yeo’s job security after this loss. The Wild were widely considered Stanley Cup contenders after they gave free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter identical 13-year, $98 million contracts last summer. But they never quite lived up to expectations.
“I can’t answer that,” Yeo said. “All I can say is if you want to look at it objectively, statistically, if you really want to look at it properly, then there’ve been a lot of improvements in our organization and our team. I feel that we’re going in the right direction.”
For a moment, the Wild looked like they might get back into this one.Moments after Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon hit the right post, Mitchell ripped a one-timer past Crawford midway through the second period. But Shaw answered 35 seconds later with his first career playoff goal when he swept the puck in from a bad angle just to the right of the net, making it 4-1.As for Crawford, there was some debate over whether he or Ray Emery should be the No. 1 goalie in the playoffs. Both were terrific during the regular season. Emery’s lower body injury ended the discussion, and Crawford was nothing but solid in this series.
“He’s making saves that he needs to make and he’s making saves that he shouldn’t be making,” Sharp said. “When he does that, it breeds confidence throughout the lineup and it filters through everybody.”
He even had the fans chanting his name at several points. For example, when Crawford stopped a routine shot by Jason Pominville from the wing and scrambled back toward the middle of the net for a neat pad save against Mikko Koivu on the rebound. That foiled another power play by the Wild after they went 0 for 15 in the first four games.
“I definitely heard (the chants),” Crawford said. “It’s nice. It was a good feeling. They’ve been hard on me at times this year, obviously, but that’s a part of it. They want the best. They expect us to be at our best. It’s only fair.”
NOTES—Dave Bolland and Emery remain sidelined by lower body injuries, although Quenneville said they’re “real close.” Bolland said it’s 50-50 he would have been able to play if “it was do or die” for the Blackhawks, but he expects to be ready in the next round…..Quenneville moved ahead of Mike Keenan and took sole possession of second place on the Blackhawks’ playoff wins list with 34. Billy Reay is the club record-holder with 57 from 1963-77.
MIAMI—It was the biggest postseason win in Miami Heat history, and the biggest postseason loss in Bulls history.
And it might have been actually worse than that sounds.Ray Allen scored 21 points in only 19 minutes, LeBron James finished with 19 points and nine assists, and the Heat led by as many as 46 points on the way to a 115-78 victory on Wednesday night in Game 2 of their series, now knotted at one Sure, the Heat have lost home-court advantage in these Eastern Conference semifinals. But an absolute domination of the Bulls made the reigning NBA champions look like the clear-cut team to beat in this title race once again.
“We’re still in the hole,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team will need to win at least one game in Chicago if it’s going to prevail in this series.
But given how one-sided Wednesday was, that wouldn’t seem like too tall a challenge.Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected in the fourth quarter for the Bulls, and the league will almost certainly review some of the things said and done in a game that was close for the first 20 minutes before turning into an embarrassment for the Bulls and an embarrassment of riches for the Heat. The Bulls were called for six player technicals, the most by any team in a playoff game since Boston had that many against Indiana in 2005.
“I don’t know how many techs we got. … I would call that not keeping your cool, not being very Zen,” Noah said.
The Heat had three technicals assessed, a season-high for them.Game 3 is Friday in the United Center.Norris Cole scored 18 points for Miami, which got 15 from Dwyane Wade and 13 from Chris Bosh. The Heat led 42-38 with 3:42 left in the first half, before going on an absurd 62-20 run.Yes, 62-20.It was that one-sided. Miami shot 60 percent to the Bulls 36, outrebounded Tom Thibodeau’s team 41-28, and enjoyed a huge edges in points off turnovers (28-7) and fast-break points (20-2).The only stat that the Bulls dominated: Technicals, where they outpaced Miami 6-3.
“We got sidetracked and you can’t do that,” Bulls coach Thibodeau said. “We allowed frustration to carry over to the next play. … You come in here, you’re not going to get calls. That’s reality.”
Marco Belinelli scored 13 for the Bulls, who got 12 from Noah and 11 from Nate Robinson.For much of the first half, it was everything one would expect from a Bulls-Heat game, especially after the Visitors took Game 1 on Monday night. It was physical — Udonis Haslem sent Robinson flying on the game’s first possession, and Belinelli hammered Wade on the ensuing Miami trip, one that ended with Wade getting the first of the game’s nine technical fouls for throwing the ball into the Bulls’ guard.
James wore a T-shirt that said “Up To Me” before the game, and it appeared the message had some literal meaning. After being held to two first-half points in Game 1, he went 6 for 6 in the opening quarter of Game 2, as Miami took a 25-20 lead.
“I wanted to be aggressive,” James said.
It was still close late in the second, before the Heat ended the half on a 13-3 run, one where Cole and Robinson looked like they were playing 1-on-1 — and the Miami guard was getting much the best of Bulls postseason hero so far.Robinson made a 3-pointer to get the Bulls within 49-41, then turned and said some words toward Cole. So Cole quickly had an answer, hitting one corner 3-pointer over Robinson and letting him know about it, then making another 30 seconds later to give Miami what was then its biggest lead of the night.Of course, it didn’t stay that way.
“You just stay the course and understand what we’re here for and it’s to win the basketball game,” James said. “We were able to do that tonight.”
James didn’t score in the third quarter – he missed all three of his shots – and still was dominant, with five assists in that period alone, as the Heat turned it into a laugher. They outscored the Bulls 30-15 in the third, stretching the lead out to 31 points as they missed 13 of its 17 shots in the period.
“We’re capable of much better and we’re going to have to be a lot better,” Thibodeau said.
Then in the fourth, with the game already lost, the Bulls lost what was left of their composure.Noah got ejected with 10:13 left, and while that mess was being sorted out, Gibson got two more technicals and joined his teammate in the visiting locker room.
“I just wanted to let the referee, I wanted to let him know, how I felt about the game,” Noah said.
Even TNT announcer Steve Kerr, a former Bulls player, questioned the officiating at that point.
“I don’t blame Gibson,” Kerr said as Gibson left the court, television cameras catching him direct a stream of what appeared to be profanities toward either referees, players or both.
By the time most players were dressed after the game Wednesday, Noah was already looking ahead to Friday.
“We didn’t play well, but it’s not the end of the world,” Noah said. “It’s 1-1, and it’s going to be a big game in Chicago.”
NOTES—Jimmy Butler’s streak of consecutive minutes played ended when he took a seat 12 seconds into the second quarter. He logged more than 160 consecutive minutes…..The Heat were 9 for 18 from 3-point range…..James didn’t score in the second half…..Miami’s biggest postseason win had been a 35-point victory over Orlando on April 24, 1997.
ST. PAUL—The Blackhawks were beaten the last game in the corners, along the boards and by an overtime goal for the Minnesota Wild.By hurling their bodies in front of puck after puck, the Blackhawks stopped the Wild’s momentum right where it started. Patrick Sharp scored two goals and the Blackhawks ratcheted up their defense to put the Wild on the brink of elimination with a 3-0 victory on Tuesday.
“It’s just been a calm, collected confidence we’ve had all year. I think we definitely showed that tonight,” said goalie Corey Crawford, who made 25 saves for his second career playoff shutout. “So many power play situations for them, and we just kept our cool. We didn’t freak out on the refs or lose it on each other. We just stuck with it.”
Bryan Bickell also scored for the Blackhawks, who built a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven matchup. Game 5 is back in Chicago on Thursday night.
“People want to make a big deal of the hits. That’s fine. We’ve won physical games before,” Sharp said. “We’ve won games with our speed and playmaking ability. So whatever the type of game is out there, I feel confident in our guys.”
The Wild had another goalie get hurt when Josh Harding’s injury forced Darcy Kuemper into action after the first intermission. Sharp scored on the Hawks first shot at the rookie 62 seconds into the second period.
Minnesota, the only one of the 16 NHL playoff teams without a power-play goal this postseason, went scoreless in six such situations (including one 66 seconds into the game and a back-to-back set in the third period) and is 0 for 15 in the series.
“Just being smart in lanes and battling for pucks. That’s been a positive for our team all year,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who joined the team right before the game after being with his wife earlier in the day for the birth of their first child.
When Niklas Backstrom was injured warming up before Game 1, Harding was sent in. This time, Harding was hurt after Jonathan Toews landed on top of him during a collision in the crease. Harding’s legs were straddled around the left post. He got up gingerly, staying in to finish the opening period after shaking his left leg back and forth several times and testing it with a slow skate behind the net. But Harding didn’t return to the bench, and Kuemper was in.
Kuemper, who made only three starts this season, had a tough initiation to the playoffs. Sharp stole an off-target pass by Zach Parise at the Wild blue line, skated the other way with a one-on-one and sent a wrist shot between Kuemper’s pads for a 2-0 lead that deflated the energy in the arena.
“I was going to shoot that puck. It didn’t matter who was in net,” Sharp said.
Harding stopped five of six shots; Kuemper made 16 saves. He also gave up Bickell’s third goal of the series, in the third period on a shot that scraped the top of the net. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had little sympathy, and Wild coach Mike Yeo declined to ask for any.
“I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in the playoffs. You’ve got to predict the unpredictable,” Quenneville said.
Ultimately, though, the guy between the pipes wasn’t going to matter much for the Wild the way this game went.The Blackhawks haven’t been themselves as an offense in this series, save for the 5-2 victory in Game 2, but that’s another testament to their dominance. They’ve got the depth everywhere on the roster to sustain a lagging top line. Marian Hossa, Toews and Brandon Saad have combined for only one goal, and Toews and Saad don’t even have an assist yet.But the Wild have had the same problem, and they’re not nearly as equipped to withstand it. Parise, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle have combined for only one goal themselves, and together they’ve posted a minus-14 rating over four games.
“It probably wasn’t the greatest of nights. But I’ll say this: If you know them the way that I do, you’d be really excited to watch them play the next game,” Yeo said.
Even with Jason Pominville’s sharp shot back on the point with the first power play unit, the home team kept misfiring. Whether a one-timer that zipped wide of the net or a slap shot blocked by one of the self-sacrificing Blackhawks, they blocked 20 shots over the first two periods and finished with 26 for the game.Minnesota attempted 68 shots to the Blackhawks 46.And the Wild, in addition to their struggles with shooting accuracy, paid for a couple of sloppy plays. There was Parise’s intercepted pass in the second period. And midway through the opening period, Hossa picked off a pass from Koivu to Parise in the Wild zone. Hossa sent the puck to Handzus, whose slap shot was tipped in by a perfectly positioned Sharp at the edge of the crease.
NOTES—Keith came right to the arena from the airport. “I might sleep until the next game. I haven’t slept yet, so it will be nice to close my eyes,” he said…..Pominville returned from a two-week absence after taking an elbow to the chin from former Hawk Dustin Brown in a game against Los Angeles…..Sharp has 27 goals in 68 career playoff games, behind only Hossa (37 in 134) on the Blackhawks…..Backstrom appeared on the bench in full gear for the third period. Yeo said he’d update the goalie situation Wednesday.
MIAMI—Nate Robinson was spitting blood in the first half, then delivered the deepest cuts of the night in the final moments. And the Bulls reminded the Miami Heat that no one in the NBA plays them any tougher.Yes, the streakbusters struck again.Robinson scored 27 points, Jimmy Butler added 21 points and a career-high-tying 14 rebounds, and the Bulls beat Miami 93-86 on Monday night in Game 1 of the teams’ Eastern Conference semifinal series. The team that snapped Miami’s 27-game winning streak in the regular season — the second-longest in NBA history — found a way to topple the champs again, this time ending a run of 12 straight Heat victories overall.
“I’ve played on some tough teams,” Robinson said. “But this one, there’s something a little different, something special about this group.”
A seven-point deficit midway through the fourth wasn’t enough to doom the Bulls, who finished the game on a 10-0 run in the final 1:59. And to think, the Bulls weren’t anywhere near full strength. Kirk Hinrich was out again with a calf injury. Luol Deng isn’t even expected to rejoin the team until Tuesday, after dealing with an illness apparently so severe that a spinal tap — and other tests since — were needed to rule out things like meningitis.
“So proud of my team man, this bed might be good luck after all,” Deng wrote on Twitter after the game, with a photo of him in a hospital bed.
Oh, and Derrick Rose remains sidelined, as he’s been since April 2012.No problem. The Heat are 41-3 in their last 44 games — with two of those losses to the Bulls, who are now 3-2 against Miami this season.
“I think when you’re facing adversity, you have to be mentally tough,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “But this is just one game. We have to play a lot better in our next one.”
LeBron James got his MVP trophy from Commissioner David Stern before the game, then struggled to a two-point first half before finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Miami. Dwyane Wade added 14 for the Heat, who had no one else in double figures, finished shooting 40 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 46-32.
“I’m not stunned,” James said. “This is what the playoffs is all about. We’re going against a really good team.”
Miami was outscored 35-24 in the fourth, something that drew the ire of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra afterward.
“There’s no excuses,” said Spoelstra, whose team had not played in more than a week. “We’re not making any excuses for time off or anything else.”
If anyone could have made excuses, it was Robinson. He needed 10 stitches, five in his lip and five more inside his mouth, to close a nasty cut that came when he dove for a loose ball with James and struck his head on the court late in the first half.And then not only did he play the whole second half, he scored 24 points in those 24 minutes, including the last seven points that finished the job.
“He was born a scorer,” Miami guard Mario Chalmers said.
Joakim Noah scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who got 12 from Taj Gibson and 10 from Marco Belinelli. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Miami.
“We’re not really a flashy team,” Gibson said. “We like to go out and do our job.”
A pair of three-point plays by James — one of them coming when he just broke through a tackle attempt by Butler and muscled the ball to the rim anyway — gave Miami a 76-69 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the biggest deficit the Bulls faced all night,they were undeterred.Coming off a Game 7 road win in Brooklyn two nights earlier just to get into a series with Miami, the Bulls just kept grinding. When Ray Allen made a 3-pointer to give Miami an 80-78 lead, Butler came back with one of his own to put the Bulls back on top. When the Heat went up by three after James made a free throw with 2:22 left, Belinelli connected for 3 — on a second-effort possession — to knot the game.Then when Robinson connected on a 20-footer with 1:18 left, the Bulls had the lead and plenty of swagger.Wade missed a 3-pointer on the next possession, Robinson drove the lane and scored with 45.5 seconds left, and suddenly the Bulls were up 90-86. James drove against Butler and tried a 12-footer that missed everything, the Bulls got the rebound, Robinson made a free throw to stretch the lead to five and the stunner was complete.Game 1 to the Bulls.
“It’s all about being tough,” said Butler, who played all 48 minutes for the third straight game. “We’re always going to be the underdogs and we take pride in that. Everybody can overlook us, but we feel like we’re good enough to hang with a lot of these teams.”
It was a night that started with a celebration, James getting his MVP award from the commissioner.
“Thank you so much,” James said. “And let’s get ready to go.”
And with that, the game started.Problem was, no one was ready to go.The Heat missed their first seven shots — maybe rust really was a factor. It was 37-all at the half and James wore twice as many pairs of sneakers in the opening two quarters (two) as he had field goals (one). He had two points at the break, the lowest of his 120-game postseason career, on just 1 for 6 shooting.He opened the second half with a 3-pointer, so the shoes were a quick fix.But the Bulls were in for the long haul, and after James made the consecutive three-point plays to open a seven-point lead, the Visitors answered with seven straight points, knotting the game at 76-all when Belinelli made a 3-pointer with just under five minutes left.Momentum belonged to the Bulls, and soon, so did the game.
“It’s just one game,” Belinelli said.
NOTES—James has played 885 regular-season and playoff games. He’s scored less than two points in a first half only twice, being shut out by Dallas on Oct. 31, 2007 and Dec. 20, 2010. He scored exactly two points on five other occasions before Monday….Wade dove into the second row of seats to save an errant ball, and grimaced after appearing to hit his sore right knee. “I wish somebody would have grabbed me. That would have been kind of nice, especially at home,” Wade said….The Bulls had 17 second-chance points on only nine offensive rebounds.
ST. PAUL—Jason Zucker scored at 2:15 of overtime to give Minnesota a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on Sunday, pulling the Wild within 2-1 in the Western Conference quarterfinal series.Zach Parise scored for the Wild early in the third period, but Duncan Keith got one back for the Blackhawks with 2:46 left in regulation to force the second overtime in three games of this best-of-7 series. Game 4 is here on Tuesday night.After taking the top-seeded Blackhawks to overtime in Game 1 at the United Center, the Wild fell flat and lost 5-2 in Game 2. They took full advantage of the shift in venue and fed off the noise and excitement in the building in Minnesota’s first home playoff game in five years.Johnny Oduya had given the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at 13-:26 of the first period on a wrist shot, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard tied the game at 1-1 at 18:30 by backhanding his own rebound past Corey Crawford. The second period was scorless.Minnesota outshot the Hawks 37-27.
BROOKLN—Joakim Noah climbed over the baseline seats to embrace his mother.The first Game 7 in Brooklyn belonged not to the Nets, but to the guy who played here in high school.
“I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” Noah said.
Injured, ill and just as determined as ever, the Bulls beat the Nets 99-93 on Saturday night to win the first-round series.Noah had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Marco Belinelli also scored 24 points to help the Bulls advance to a second-round series against defending champion Miami that starts Monday night.Carlos Boozer added 17 points as the Bulls shook off injuries to two starters and every run the Nets tried to make in the second half to win a Game 7 on the road for the first time in franchise history.
“I’m just so proud of this team. We’ve been fighting through so much all year and to be in this situation, play on the biggest stage in the world and to be able to win and now play against the Heat, all these experiences, I (don’t) take those for granted,” Noah said.
The Bulls opened a 17-point halftime lead with a rare offensive outburst and found a way to get big baskets every time the Nets pulled close to win the NBA’s only do-or-die game of the first round.
“I thought our guys, we took a big punch in Game 1 and we kept fighting back and that’s been the story of the season,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Former Illini Deron Williams had 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Nets. They were trying to become the ninth NBA team to win a series after trailing 3-1.But they had a horrendous first-half defensive performance and Joe Johnson was bad all game on offense, finishing with six points on 2-of-14 shooting, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range.With Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (bruised left calf) out again and Derrick Rose still not ready to return from last year’s torn ACL, the Bulls leaned on Noah, who could barely play when the Bulls were blown out here two weeks ago in Game 1 because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He logged 41 minutes and shot 12 of 17 while also blocking six shots Saturday.
“It’s disappointing. We won Game 6, we felt like this was our series, but they came out and played a great game,” Williams said. “Noah, like I said, he’s a warrior. He battled through his injuries and just had a monster game. We really had no answers for him down low tonight.”
Noah helped the Bulls spoil the Nets’ first home Game 7 in their NBA history at the end of their first season in Brooklyn. They had played only one Game 7 in all their years while they were based in New Jersey, falling at Detroit in 2004.The Bulls improved to 1-6 in road Game 7s.Deng, tested for meningitis earlier in the week, was back in the hospital Friday night and unable to travel. Hinrich warmed up in hopes of playing before he was ruled out.It didn’t matter to the Bulls, who backed up Thibodeau’s vow that they would have no excuses and play well.Coming out ready to work, the Bulls got their first two baskets on offensive rebounds by Boozer and Noah, and they led most of the first quarter before bringing a 29-25 lead to the second on Taj Gibson’s jumper with 0.8 seconds left.It was 40-36 before the Bulls took control with solid offensive execution and poor Nets defense. Noah had consecutive baskets before seldom-used Daequan Cook made a 3-pointer to cap an 11-2 run, and after a basket by Andray Blatche, Boozer, Nate Robinson and Noah ran off the next six points to give the Bulls a 57-40 lead as the crowd began to boo.”I think we weren’t as aggressive as they were, especially on the boards and the defensive end in the first half,” Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said.The Bulls capped it with a stunningly easy dunk by Boozer with 1.2 seconds left off an inbounds pass, sending the Bulls to the locker room with a 61-44 advantage.Brooklyn burst out of the locker room with a 10-4 run, and back-to-back 3-pointers later in the third period by Gerald Wallace kicked off an 11-2 surge that got the Nets within 69-65 on Williams’ free throw with 5:29 left.Jimmy Butler hit a 3-pointer and Robinson scored to steady the Bulls and push the lead back to nine, and they led 82-75 after three.The Nets opened the fourth with just one point in the first five minutes as consecutive baskets by Boozer pushed the lead back into double digits. The Nets kept trying to get back in it, getting it all the way down to four on a 3-pointer by Williams with 26 seconds left, but Belinelli hit four free throws from there.Brook Lopez had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Wallace finished with 19 points for the Nets, who finished a successful first season in Brooklyn in a disappointing way, getting booed late in the first half while allowing the Bulls to make eight of their final 12 shots.Robinson finished with 12 points in his second straight start in place of Hinrich.
NOTES—The Bulls open the Eastern Conference Semi Finals Monday night in Miami…..Rihanna, whose concert that was scheduled here for Saturday was postponed to Tuesday night after the Nets forced Game 7, sat in the courtside seats belonging to fellow music star Jay-Z….New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia was in the crowd — wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers hat.
This is the direct link for CHICAGO RUSH ON LINE RADIO PLAY BY PLAY starting for Saturday Night’s game with Philadelphia at Allstate Arena starting at 6:45pm(CDT).
Just click and enjoy as Les calls all the action