NEMANJA NIKOLIC MAGAZINE WEEK 5


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1 NEMANJA NIKOLIC MAGAZINE JANUARY 2018 WEEK 5

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3 NEMANJA NIKOLIC Chicago Fire Forward 23 Real Name: Nemanja Nikolić HT: 5' 11" WT: 176 International Designated Player Age: 30 (12/31/1987) Birthplace: Senta, Serbia Hometown: Senta, Serbia How he joined the club: Acquired from Legia Warsaw (Ekstraklasa) via transfer, and signed as a Designated Player on Dec. 20, How he joined the club: Acquired from Legia Warsaw (Ekstraklasa) via transfer, and signed as a Designated Player on Dec. 20, (CHICAGO FIRE): Nikolic won the MLS Golden Boot with 24 goals during his first campaign with the Fire. His goal-scoring output set a Fire record for single season. The Hungarian international striker added four assists while playing in each of Chicago s 34 regular season games. Nikolic was named a finalist for the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Award as well as the MLS Newcomer of the Year Award. Nikolic was selected to the MLS All- Star Game at Soldier Field, and played 45 minutes in the second half. He scored in four-consecutive games from 4/29 to 5/17, and in 11 of 13 games from 4/8 to 7/1. Nikolic tallied six times in the Fire s final four games to help them secure the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference, and to capture the MLS Golden Boot. Nikolic pulled into the Golden Boot lead with a hat trick in the Fire s final regular season home game, a 3-2 win vs. PHI on 10/15. MLS Cup Playoffs: Started and played 90 minutes in the Fire s 4-0 loss vs. NY on 10/25. U.S. Open Cup:Started and played 120 minutes in the Fire s Round of 16 match at FC Cincinnati on 6/ (LEGIA WARSAW): Led the Ekstraklasa with 12 goals through the first half of their season. Nikolic also had two assists in 19 matches. He left in top form with six goals in his final three regular season matches, including a hat trick against Gornik Leczna on 12/18 and a brace against Piast Gliwice on 12/11. That stretch marked the second time during the season that Nikolic scored a goal in three consecutive games. UCL: Scored five goals in six games during qualification, and then added one goal in five group games. His goal during the group stage came against Borussia Dortmund at Westfalenstadion on 11/22. Polish Cup: Scored a goal in his lone appearance, a second round match against Gornik Zabrze (LEGIA WARSAW): Led the Ekstraklasa with 28 goals, and was third in assists with 10. Named the league s Player of the Year and Forward of the Year for his efforts. Nikolic opened the season on a tear with five goals in the club s first three games. He had 15 goals through the team s first 12 games, and recorded seven multi-goal games during the campaign. Helped Legia Warsaw to their 11th league title in club history. Europa League: Scored two goals during qualifying and appeared in 10 total games while helping Legia Warsaw reach the group stage. Polish Cup: Scored six goals in seven games, including a hat trick in the first leg of the semifinal. He scored four of Legia Warsaw s six goals during the semis to help them advance to a title game against Lech Poznan. Started and played 83 minutes for Legia Warsaw in a 1-0 win against Lech Poznan to capture the championship. INTERNATIONAL (HUNGARY): 2016: Made seven appearances for Hungary, including participation in the 2016 European Championship. Recorded two assists. 2015: Made six appearances and had one goal and one assist. Participation included four 2016 European Championship Group Stage matches. 2014: Made seven appearances, including four 2016 European Championship Group Stage Qualifiers. Scored a goal against Russia on 11/ : Made his Hungarian debut against the Netherlands on 10/11 in 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Had two appearances during the year, and scored a brace against Andorra on 10/15 in Group D Qualifying. More info on NEMANJA NIKOLIC found at CREDIT: CHICAGO FIRE SOCCER CLUB

4 4 Blackhawks have an uphill climb toward the playoffs Residual feelings, perhaps left over from 2015, were expressed in the form of boos when Patrick Kane was introduced Sunday before his Central Division team fell 5-2 to the Pacific Division team in an All-Star Game semifinal at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Kane, who helped the Hawks defeat the Lightning in six games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, led all players with four shots on goal Sunday but did not score in his seventh All-Star game appearance. Kane ricocheted one off the crossbar during the second period of the three-on-three format. Kane, the Hawk s lone All-Star, called his selection a great honor but added he would have liked to have gone with a few of his teammates. Kane and his teammates will return to the ice Tuesday in Nashville to resume their fight for positioning in the Western Conference playoff picture. With 53 points, the Hawks sit out of that picture, four points and four teams out of the second wild-card spot, last in the Central Division and in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. We try to stay loose in here, Kane said last week. We try to stay as confident as we can. Maybe if we go out there and play confident, that s probably a better recipe, rather than playing uptight and worrying about what s going to happen next. Kane s 20 goals and 29 assists lead the Hawks, who have three road games coming up before they return home Feb. 6. Hit the road, Corey? Goalie Corey Crawford was scheduled to take the ice this weekend for the first time since he was put on injured reserve Dec. 27 with an upper-body injury. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said before the All-Star break how Crawford reacts would determine whether or not he travels with the team to Nashville, Vancouver and Calgary. Crawford likely would need at least a week to 10 days to ready himself for a return to game action. Tucson Roadrunners sneak by Chicago Wolves in overtime thriller The Tucson Roadrunners won their third straight game Friday night, ousting the Chicago Wolves 2-1 in sudden death overtime. The win puts Tucson at on the season, preserving their lead in the Pacific Division. The win didn t necessarily come easy for the Roadrunners, however. The game was scoreless after two periods, and the shot attempts remained low with Tucson edging the Wolves in that category at the intermission. The first part of the game we were really managing the puck well, Roadrunners assistant coach Steve Potvin said. We were putting some pressure on them with our forecheck, and that kind of got a way from us. Chicago would be the first to strike, with Brandon Pirri slipping the puck past goaltender Hunter Miska nearly five minutes into the third period. Meanwhile, Chicago continued their defensive pressure on the Roadrunners, holding them nine shots on goal in the third frame. Despite the pressure, Roadrunners forward Lawson Crouse said he believed Tucson was able to keep their composure throughout the full 60-minute game. It was very easy for us to get frustrated if we let it, he said. But with our composure and our leadership on our team, we were doing a lot of talking between periods. We knew that with our team and the character that we have, just keep going, and pushing forward. And Crouse was right. With less than four minutes remaining in the third period, he found a set pass from teammates Mario Kempe and Dylan Strome to get the puck past Chicago s goaltender, Kasimir Kaskisuo, to tie the game and eventually force an overtime period. It was actually a really nice play. Crouse said. It kicked out to [Strome] down to Kempe, and he made a nice pace over to me, and I just had to put it in. It just shows that when you battle right to the end good things happen. Tucson tried to carry that momentum into overtime, but Crouse was called for a minor penalty, giving Chicago the 4-on- 3 advantage for a large chunk of the overtime period. Tucson was able to kill the penalty and eventually Dakota Mermis found the back of the net with just 6.7 seconds remaining, giving Tucson their third straight overtime victory of the week. I think we just got a really resilient crew, Mermis said. We work on the 3-on-3 this week on practice, it s such a big part of the game. Crouse and Mermis weren t the only ones who had a big game Friday. Goaltender Hunter Miska improved his overtime record to 5-0 this season, saving 21 of 22 shots. Tucson will return to action Saturday night, hosting Chicago once more before heading into the AHL All-Star break.

5 5 El fallo de una corte de Estados Unidos que podría cambiar la historia de la TV en el fútbol sudamericano La jueza Cecilia Altonaga de la Corte del Distrito Sur de la Florida, Estados Unidos, emitió el viernes un fallo de 52 páginas en contra de la poderosa cadena FOX, del multimillonario Rupert Murdoch, así como de TyC, los dos medios que manejan la Copa Libertadores y la Sudamericana, los principales torneos de la Conmebol. El fallo podría cambiar la historia de la TV dentro del fútbol Sudamericano. Se imaginan que la Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (Conmebol), de la noche a la mañana cambie a la contratista FOX Sports y a la productora Torneos, que poseen los derechos de televisación de todos los partidos de la Copa Libertadores, la Sudamericana y la Recopa? Pues un fallo de 52 páginas de la Corte del Distrito Sur de la Florida, Estados Unidos, aceptó los argumentos de presunto pago de sobornos por parte de éstas empresas a oficiales de la Conmebol para quedarse con esos derechos. Se trata de una demanda promovida ante la justicia norteamericana por las empresas GolTV y Global Sports, del empresario uruguayo Francisco Paco Casal. La parte demandante alega que un conjunto de hasta 14 compañías y empresarios de televisión y marketing fueron parte de un red de sobornos que favorecieron a Fox Sports y perjudicaron a GolTV, con sede en el sur de Florida, y Global Sports, que no pudieron hacerse con los derechos televisivos de torneos de fútbol desde la década pasada. La Conmebol es la que concede los derechos exclusivos de transmisión de los torneos de la región Copa Libertadores y la Copa Sudamericana, y que entre los años 2000 y 2015 fueron otorgados a la empresa T&T, con sede en las Islas Caimán.

6 6 El abanderado de Tonga que se hizo famoso en Río 2016 cambió su vida para clasificar a los Juegos Olímpicos de Invierno Pita Taufatofua compitió en Brasil como taekwondista, pero ahora obtuvo en otra disciplina, en lo que significó un giro radical en su rutina. La ceremonia inaugural de los Juegos Olímpicos de Río 2016 tuvo a un personaje que se destacó por encima del resto de los competidores simplemente por lucir el torso desnudo, bañado en aceite de coco. El abanderado de Tonga, Pita Taufatofua, fue tendencia mundial en las redes sociales al pasear por el Maracaná, pero al momento de demostrar su talento falló. El taekwondista perdió en primera ronda de la clasificación en la categoría 80 kilos ante el iraní Mardani y se despidió rápido del certamen al que llegó encabezando a su generación. Dos años después su vida cambió por completo.en búsqueda de nuevos desafíos, se puso un lema como forma de vida: la tumba o la gloria. "Pensé, sólo queda una carrera, en el fin del mundo, en el círculo polar ártico, así que tengo que darlo todo, es la tumba o la gloria. Y lo di absolutamente todo"según contó su decisión de pasarse a un deporte de invierno como el esquí tuvo que ver con un desafío personal: "Después de Río decidí encontrar el deporte más difícil posible porque necesitaba un nuevo reto". En su país no sólo no existe la nieve, sino que las 177 islas de la Polinesia que conforman su territorio tienen temperaturas mínimas de 17 ºC, por lo que el frío es una palabra desconocida en su vocabulario.el fin de semana pasado en una competencia en Finlandia, Taufatofua logró la hazaña y obtuvo la clasificación a los Juegos Olímpicos Pyeongchang 2018 que comenzarán el 4 de febrero. Luego de haber conseguido el "milagro" como él mismo lo calificó en las redes sociales, reconoció que esta decisión de haber cambiado de deporte transformó su vida. "Sacrificamos todo para llegar aquí. Financieramente estoy peor que nunca, pero también estoy más feliz que nunca", aseguró en declaraciones tomadas por la BBC. Ahora resta saber si su performance en los Juegos de este año será mejor que la que mostró en Río Para eso deberá seguir entrenando sobre patines, como lo hace habitualmente por la falta de nieve en su tierra natal. Jugadores del Dinamo Moscú serán 'sparrings' del Tri en el Mundial Juan Carlos Osorio deseaba llevarse a varios jugadores mexicanos aunque no estuvieran en la lista de 23. La idea de Juan Carlos Osorio era llevar a la Copa del Mundo a algunos jugadores mexicanos que sirvieran de ayuda para los entrenamientos y con ello poder realizar un mejor trabajo con los futbolistas que no tuvieron tanta actividad. Esta petición fue imposible de lograr para la Federación Mexicana de Futbol por temas de logística, por lo que Denis Te Kloese, director de Selecciones Nacionales, se encargó de gestionar esa parte para que el Dinamo de Moscú preste a algunos de sus jugadores para las prácticas, aprovechando que las instalaciones de ese club serán la sede base del Tricolor."Debatimos la posibilidad de llevar un 'sparring', por logística es imposible, tenemos un plan b que es contar con jugadores de Dinamo de Moscú, para garantizar la posibilidad que en días de recuperación tengamos suficientes jugadores para entrenar", dijo el Dt del Tricolor. Osorio deberá entregar una lista de 40 jugadores a la FIFA y de ahí deberá sacar a los 23 que integrarán al equipo en Rusia 2018, y declaró que en caso de una lesión podrá llamara a cualquier jugador sin que esté en la convocatoria previa. "En caso de lesión se puede llamar a cualquier jugador no necesariamente de esa previa lista, no tenemos que llevar ningún jugador extra en caso de un lesionado, porque entonces podríamos recurrir al que consideremos necesario". OSORIO SIGUE A LA ESPERA DE RAFAEL MÁRQUEZ El lugar de Rafael Márquez en la Copa del Mundo está seguro en caso de que pueda resolver sus problemas legales con la justicia de Estados Unidos, pues Juan Carlos Osorio entiende todo lo que aporta el zaguero a pesar de su veteranía. "Nuestra admiración por Rafa como jugador y ser humano de solucionar como parece ser su situación personal, lo analizaremos estrictamente en lo deportivo, como es el resto de los posibles convocados y ojalá en ese momento de ser evaluado esté bien en la parte futbolística porque las veces que han estado siempre le ha aportado al equipo y ha sido muy influyente, imposible olvidarnos de Rafa", expresó el colombiano.la última vez que Márquez se puso la camiseta de la Selección Mexicana fue en la pasada Copa Confederaciones de Rusia 2017, donde jugó 150 minutos en tres partidos.

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8 8 Edinson Cavani hizo historia en el PSG: se convirtió en el máximo goleador del club El uruguayo abrió el marcador en el encuentro ante el Montpellier y superó, con 157 tantos al sueco Zlatan IbrahimovicEn el minuto 10 de la primera parte, el uruguayo abrió el marcador rematando un pase de la muerte de su compañero Adrien Rabiot y superó así el anterior récord, en posesión del sueco Zlatan Ibrahimovic.Este récord vino precedido de una pequeña polémica ocurrida la semana pasada,cuando el PSG se impuso por 8-0 al Dijon y Neymar, que ya había marcado tres goles, no permitió que el uruguayo lanzara el penal del último tanto, pese a que el público del Parque de los Príncipes coreó el nombre del charrúa para que batiese el récord y abucheó la actitud del brasileño, que se marchó del estadio visiblemente molesto. Curiosamente, Cavani celebró su gol quitándose la camiseta y lanzándola a la tribuna, lo que le costó una tarjeta amarilla. El charrúa aceptó el castigo y chocó su mano con el árbitro. Es el gol 27 de Cavani, de 30 años, esta temporada, contando todas las competiciones.el 'Matador' fichó por el París SG procedente del Nápoles por 64 millones de euros, un récord para el equipo francés hasta que pagó 222 millones por Neymar el pasado mes de agosto. Criticado al inicio de su estancia en París por sus constantes fallos de cara al gol, pero ha mejorado su eficacia desde la marcha de Ibrahimovic en el verano boreal de 2016, logrando desde entonces 49 goles en 50 partidos. Esta rendimiento, unido a su constante lucha en la cancha, ha convertido a Cavani en uno de los jugadores favoritos de la afición del París SG, club con el que tiene contrato hasta junio de 2020.Neymar sobresalió. Regresó a la competición tras perderse por lesión los encuentros contra el Lyon y el Guingamp y el París Saint Germain lo notó. Un disparo de Julian Draxler fue interceptado con la mano, dentro del área, por Frank Schneider. Neymar lanzó desde los once metros y marcó a cinco minutos del descanso. Amplió su ventaja el PSG en el tramo final. En el 70. Ángel di María hizo el tercero a pase de Thomas Meunier, que se internó por la derecha y envió un centro al punto de penalti, donde remató el argentino. Y en el 82 Neymar culminó un contraataque y llevó a la red un buen pase de Cavani. Miguel Cotto recibe el cinturón de diamantes de la OMB Es el cuarto púgil en recibir la distinción La Organización Mundial de Boxeo (OMB) reconoció hoy la trayectoria de Miguel Ángel Cotto como excampeón del organismo, al entregarle un cinturón especial de diamantes. En una informal ceremonia celebrada en el club de golf El Legado, donde se celebró un torneo amistoso en honor al cagüeño de 37 años, Francisco Paco Valcárcel, presidente de la organización, le hizo entrega de la correa conmemorativa que solo otros tres boxeadores los mexicanos Oscar de la Hoya, Jorge El Travieso Arce y Fernando Montiel la han recibido por haber ganado tres títulos mundiales en categorías distintas con la OMB. Cotto se retiró el pasado mes de diciembre, lo que le puso fin a una carrera en la que se convirtió en el primer puertorriqueño en ganar títulos en cuatro divisiones distintas. Miguel prometió que va a utilizar ese cinturón cuando lo exalten al Salón de la Fama, señaló Valcárcel, al tiempo que llamaba a la esposa de Cotto, Melissa, para que le entregará la faja conmemorativa. Cotto ganó los cinturones mundiales de la OMB de las 140 libras noqueando técnicamente en seis asaltos al brasileño Kelson Pinto el 11 de septiembre de 2004, el de las 147 libras superando en cinco asaltos al boricua Carlos El Indio Quintana el 2 de diciembre de 2006, y el de las 154 libras al despachar a Yoshihiro Kamegai el 26 de agosto del Gracias a todos por este reconocimiento, dijo Cotto al recibir la faja especial, al abundar que cuando comenzó su carrera profesional lo que quería era darle el sustento a su familia y diecisiete años después cumplí con mi cometido. En la actividad estuvieron presentes los excampeones mundiales Ángel Cholo Espada, Alex El Nene Sánchez y John John Molina, así como los campeones mundiales Alberto Machado y Ángel Tito Acosta.

9 9 Exculpan a atleta estadounidense de dopaje que contrajo por besos El velocista, Gil Roberts fue absuelto por el TAS tras dar con la fuente de la sustancia por la que dio positivo.el Tribunal de Arbitraje Deportivo (TAS) falló a favor del atleta Gil Roberts para ratificar la inocencia del velocista de doparse con probenecina. Lo curioso es que el estadounidense ingirió "accidentalmente" la sustancia, mediante los besos de su novia. "El TAS determinó por unanimidad que el atleta cumplió con su tarea de identificar la fuente de la sustancia, es decir, tras besar a su novia después de que ésta ingiriera la medicina que contenía probenecina. La evidencia presentada ante el TAS en el que había involucrados varios testigos, fue convincente y consistente", afirmó el organismo.el pasado 24 de marzo, un análisis fuera de competición reveló la presencia en el organismo de Roberts de esa sustancia, un fármaco que se aplica para el tratamiento de altos niveles de ácido úrico. La probenecina es considerada por el Comité Olímpico Internacional (COI) como una sustancia ilegal porque puede ser un agente enmascarador por aumentar la producción de orina. Sin embargo, luego de una apelación presentada por la Agencia Mundial Antidopaje (AMA), los expertos de la Asociación Americana de Arbitraje (AAA) consideraron que no la ingirió de forma intencionada. Entonces, quedó probado que la novia del atleta, Alex Salazar, inició un tratamiento médico en el que incluía la ingesta de probenecina después de regresar de un viaje a la India con molestias en el pecho.después de presentar las respectivas apelaciones, quedó probado que Roberts ingirió la sustancia prohibida a través de los besos que se daba con su pareja y así lo aceptó la AAA en el pasado 10 de julio de Un mes después, la AMA remitió el caso al TAS, que finalmente, según emitió este jueves en un comunicado oficial, falló a favor del atleta estadounidense tras una audiencia entre las dos partes el pasado 15 de enero. Además, añadió que la cantidad de probenecina encontrada en el organismo de Gil Roberts "no tiene efecto como un agente de enmascaramiento útil" y que su ingesta "fue accidental" por lo que "no hay motivos" para "sancionar" al velocista estadounidense. Así fue el debut de Javier Mascherano con la camiseta del Hebei Fortune de China El "Jefecito" hizo su presentación con su flamante equipo en un amistoso disputado en Marbella ante el Europa Fútbol Club de Gibraltar. El conjunto asiático se impuso 2-1 Sin las luces que ofrece una vidriera enorme como el Barcelona, pero con la enjundia y el carácter de siempre. Javier Mascherano, de 33 años, hizo su debut con la camiseta del Hebei Fortune de China. No se trató de su primer partido oficial, sino de un amistoso durante la pretemporada, que su flamante equipo se encuentra desarrollando en Marbella, España. Allí, se midió ante el Europa Fútbol Club de Gibraltar: el conjunto que dirige el chileno Manuel Pellegrini (el que promovió a Primera a un juvenil "Masche" en River) superó 2-1 a su adversario, con goles del brasileño Hernanes y de Zhao Mingjian. Enrique Carreño anotó el tanto del perdedor.el "Jefecito" lució un dorsal particular: el 60. Y jugó en su posición natural: volante central. La partida de Mascherano a China tiene que ver, más allá de la oferta económica irresistible, con la búsqueda de continuidad (y si es actuando como número 5, mucho mejor) para llegar con ritmo futbolístico al Mundial de Rusia 2018, y así ofrecerse como opción válida de convocatoria para Jorge Sampaoli, director técnico de la Selección argentina. Ya lo advirtió el oriundo de San Lorenzo, Santa Fe: la próxima Copa del Mundo representará su adiós al combinado nacional. El partido resultó todo un acontecimiento para el humilde Europa Fútbol Club. Además de Mascherano, en el Hebei se presentaron Ezequiel Lavezzi, el ya citado Hernanes y el internacional marfileño Gervinho. "Gran partido con Mascherano y el resto del plantel de Hebei", posteó el club rival en sus redes sociales. Jorge Pina, mediocampista español del EFC, incluso, se tomó una foto con "Masche". Un antecedente los une: compartieron el Mundial Juvenil de 2003, uno con Argentina, y el otro con el conjunto de promesas ibéricas."pocho" Lavezzi también celebró el debut de su compatriota en el Hebei. "Contento de poder volver a compartir momentos y charlas. Bienvenido payaso mala onda", publicó. Con el 60 en la espalda, Mascherano ya empezó a hacerse "Jefe" con otros colores.

10 10 BULLS FALL TO BUCKS IN SUNDAY AFTERNOON MATINEE IN CHICAGO Zach LaVine Sunday in the Bulls loss to the Milwaukee Bucks missed his first nine shots, making it 24 of his last 27 shots missed going back through late in the loss to the 76ers last week. LaVine, regarded by many as the centerpiece of the big Jimmy Butler trade last summer, wasn t happy about it as the Bulls lost their fourth straight game. It s frustrating, LaVine acknowledged. You put a lot of work into it, but things are just not dropping. Part of the game. I ll get it going. I m going back to the gym tonight to get some shots up, clear your head. It s frustrating with the consecutive losses at home; have to defend this place. It is a bad stretch for the Bulls with point guard Kris Dunn still out with a concussion and the headache for coach Fred Hoiberg as he tries to find someone to make plays and accelerate the team s offense. No one has been able to fill that role as for a second straight game a reserve, this time Denzel Valentine with 18 points, led the team in scoring after yet another indifferent opening by the starters. Lauri Markkanen had 17 points and 10 rebounds, now officially the greatest scoring Finnish player in NBA history overtaking Hanno Mottola. There was no ceremony. Jerian Grant added 15 points, Justin Holiday 12 and Nikola Mirotic 10. Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Lauri Markkanen dunks the ball at the United Center We re a much better team when we get the ball up the floor quickly and Kris Dunn is our best pace guard, Hoiberg noted. He s our best player out of flow. We can create things early in possessions and we re missing that right now in a big way. That being said, we still have to go out and play the right way and get the ball up the floor. We re going to have a hell of a practice tomorrow, Hoiberg promised. We re going to have a training camp-type practice. We ve got to get our competitive edge back; we ve got to get our spirit back. So we re going to go like hell and hopefully get some of that back. It starts with practice tomorrow. LaVine started early with his late night trip Sunday back to the Advocate Center, and that s just part of the good news about the guy whose defense attorneys are requesting for firing squads. LaVine is driving the ball hard, he s dunking. Late in the game, he faced down Antetokounmpo defensively, quickly adjusting side to side without letting Antetokounmpo get past. LaVine got into the passing lanes, reaching high and twisting to get deflections and get out on the break, coming back hard after a turnover to recover the ball with a steal. There wasn t enough of it to keep the Bulls from falling to as they search out some better combinations, try to get the ball to Markkanen more and stop holding onto the damn ball so much! Sorry, but I ve been watching all the games. But LaVine, the former Bounce Brother with Andrew Wiggins back in Minnesota, continues to have plenty of spring still less than a year removed from major anterior cruciate surgery. LaVine shoots the ball, vs the Milwaukee Bucks I don t have any fear, LaVine said with one of those, Hey, I answered that three weeks ago looks. I got over that part really fast. I know athletically I m still one of the top guys out there. So I can always fall back on that. I can t hang my head because a month ago I was sitting on the sideline wishing I could go 0 for 20. I m happy I m out there playing and I m just going to keep working at it. I m finally doing what I love to do. I m out here competing and helping the team and doing whatever I can do out there. It s a lot better than sitting on the sideline with an ACL injury; that sucks. I d rather go 0 for 40 in a game before having another ACL injury Which is also not to say LaVine is satisfied; hardly. But the significance amidst a run of poor team efforts is the point guard is down temporarily and the shooting guard continues to move with bounce. OK, it s the but they have their health thing. Sure, the Bulls have been playing poorly. Though less because of erratic shooting than rare, at least for lately, indifferent efforts. We may have lost a game (the last month), but it wasn t because of effort and energy, Hoiberg pointed out. We have lost a little bit of that. We ve taken a step back and have two days to work on that (before going to Portland) and hopefully get it back. It s been those weak starts, especially at home. This time it was 13-7 Bucks. This time it was not only missing eight of their first 10 shots, but doing so standing around the perimeter throwing up jump shots and then admiringly watching the opponent run the other way. It was familiar to the 3-20 Bulls, though not so much for the month afterward. A lot of that has returned as Hoiberg tries to juggle Dunn being out with bringing LaVine back with escalating minutes. Grant can be a good energy scorer, but continues to not only dribble too much but he becomes mechanical

11 11 looking to pass. He is not unwilling, but it s not natural and sometimes he ll get to the basket and pass because it s obvious he was thinking he had to pass that time. He is trying to do what the coaches ask. So Hoiberg worked in LaVine, Markkanen and Valentine as playmakers at times, and, really, only Valentine is much good at it. One time Markkanen was dribbling up and forgot to keep dribbling. Valentine changed the pace of the game Sunday with three straight first quarter scores on a series of floaters and runners to get the Bulls competitive and trailing after one quarter. Denzel was the bright spot today, said Hoiberg. Hoiberg said he also decided to keep LaVine at shooting guard to get him more comfortable in one position, which made sense. I ve always had that in my game, Valentine said about the array of floaters and adding four assists. It s more coming out this year because my role has increased. Last year was pretty much watching Jimmy and D-Wade and shoot threes when I can. This is a new team this year, sharing the ball and running offense. I m much more than a thee-point shooter. It kind of stinks I was starting and playing well and a guy comes back and takes a starting role, Valentine conceded. But I m living my dream playing in the NBA and he s a great player who is going to help us win games. The second quarter proved the fatal letdown for the Bulls, Valentine scoring 10 of the Bulls 22 points as the Bucks ran and did they run with 10 fast break points to a halftime lead. And there wasn t much more to say after that. The Bulls had 10 turnovers by halftime with 27 points in the half from the bench and just 15 points from the starters despite substantially more playing time. Valentine alone in less than 15 first half minutes had more first half points than the five starters combined in 73 minutes. We have great players on our second unit who could be starting on a lot of teams in this league, said Valentine. We believe that in our hearts. So we want to play with pride and show we deserve to belong in the game and play as hard as we can. The Bulls reserves now are seventh in the league in scoring. Time for a starting lineup energy boost? New player? New attitude? The starters are out there for a reason, said LaVine. We have to bring some energy to the game. We cannot lack on offense and lack on defense. Something has to be going for us, so we have to change that fast. The starters got a little bit going in the third quarter, Justin Holiday with some threes, Grant with a pair and Valentine making the plays, the defense better as the Bucks missed all seven of their threes. But there s also what great players do. Milwaukee has one; the Bulls are hoping they do. With all around him flailing, Antetokounmpo took over in a five minute stretch with a spinning drive for a dunk on a switch, poor Robin Lopez looking like one of those dizzy mascots. Antetokounmpo after a one of seven start had eight of the Bucks 10 points in their otherwise fallow stretch. So the Bulls could only get within 13 on a Markkanen three. But then Khris Middleton began to awake and the Bucks still held onto an lead after three quarters. It s what s misunderstood about the closer in the NBA. It s not just those last shots at the end of the game. It s the things Michael Jordan and later Derrick Rose would do. Those players, like Antetokounmpo with the Bucks, carry a team through a four or five-minute stretch when they could lose a lead with everyone else going cold. That s when teams create those deficits, and those players are the lost lead obstructionists. Then having a break or the pressure off, teammates begin to respond. It s what happened Sunday for the Bucks. And then even with a Bobby Ports flex after his only basket of the game with eight other misses, the Bulls couldn t get enough going even as LaVine finally began to break out a bit late in the game. I m not worried, said Hoiberg. Zach s offense will come; he s a proven scorer. He s missing shots he normally makes and shots he made when he first came back. The encouraging thing is his defense has been better. He s too good of a shooter. Athletic enough to finish at the basket, which he s not doing a great job of now, but he will as he continues to get his conditioning and timing and rhythm, and that will come. When LaVine was growing up as a Northwest prep superstar, he was alternatively known as Star Child or No way. No way? Well, because there was no way to stop him, so the story goes. So he s been there and believes there are again no physical barriers. I m not going to react negatively, LaVine said. I m going to go out and play my game and if it doesn t work out I have all the confidence in the world. I worked hard to get to this point and it s going to eventually come. You can t hang your head about that. We have a lot more games left; that s what so good about the NBA. I have to be a closing pitcher. You have to get over that late walk off home run. That s right, just play ball. CREDIT: BY: SAM SMITH

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