Rose-less Bulls hand Kings 121-115 loss

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Rose-less Bulls hand Kings 121-115 loss

BOX SCORE
CHICAGO -- Luol Deng figures the Chicago Bulls will have to find creative ways to win as long as Derrick Rose is sidelined.This wasn't what he had in mind. The Bulls will take it, though.Deng came through with 23 points and a career-high 11 assists, and the Bulls escaped with a 121-115 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night after a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead dwindled to two."Missing Derrick, even though we're winning games, it's huge," Deng said. "He makes the game so much easier. When he's not there, you've got to work extra."Joakim Noah added 22 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Korver scored 18, hitting four free throws in the final 17.6 seconds. Carlos Boozer scored 16, Taj Gibson added 15 points, and the Bulls came away with the win - barely - even though Rose missed his third straight game with lower back spasms.The victory clinched the Eastern Conference coaching spot at the All-Star game for the Bulls' Tom Thibodeau.DeMarcus Cousins led Sacramento with 28 points and 17 rebounds. Tyreke Evans scored 27, and Marcus Thornton added 23 points for the Kings, who made things extremely interesting down the stretch.Two free throws by Evans with 19 seconds left made it 115-112. Korver answered with two of his own, but the drama wasn't over.Thornton nailed a 3 to make it a two-point game with 14.8 seconds left, but Korver immediately hit two more foul shots to boost the lead to 119-115. Deng then hit two free throws with 8.8 seconds left to seal the win."I've yet to fear this team being down," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "This team has shown throughout the year that they have the ability to get back in games."Winning them is a different story. Sacramento is last in the Pacific Division at 10-18 and is just 3-13 on the road.This seemed like a mismatch despite Rose's absence, but the Kings hung with the Eastern Conference leaders even when it looked like Chicago had put this one away.Sacramento was within eight in late in the third when Deng buried a corner 3 with just under a minute left. That started a 12-1 run that bumped Chicago's lead to 97-78, but the Bulls couldn't breathe too easily.They did, however, let out a big sigh of relief in the end."They're a tough team," Evans said. "They play together. They run that high pick-and-roll good with the bigs. They ran it all night on us and got a lot of fouls. That's what killed us."The dramatic win came on the heels of a 6-3 trip that matched their longest since the 1992-93 season, and they did it without their superstar point guard."I think our team has gotten used to guys being out," Thibodeau said. "It happened last year with our big guys and this year, it is more perimeter guys, so we have that all covered. We feel very good about our depth, and when we are down a man, the next guy steps up and does the job."The question is: Will the injuries take a toll eventually?Rose didn't have a target date for his return. Boston visits Thursday, and he wasn't sure if he'd be ready to play against Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. One thing was clear, though. Rose was certainly breathing a little easier.A specialist confirmed Monday that there was no structural damage, and that was a big relief for him and a team eyeing a championship. This hasn't been an easy season for Rose even though he's averaging 22.0 points and 7.8 assists. Between the bad back and a problem with his left big toe, he's missed eight games this season after sitting out six over his first three years."I think the best thing you can do is try to get better from it," Deng said. "If we had a choice, we wouldn't want him to be hurt, but that's the situation. We really think that it will help us. Guys are stepping up. Guys are getting playing time. We'd rather have this problem now than later in the year."Notes: Veteran G Richard Hamilton, who remains sidelined by a right thigh injury, rejoined the Bulls after tending to a family issue. He posted on Twitter that his grandmother died. ... G Mike James signed a 10-day contract. He appeared in three games for Chicago before being waived on Jan. 28. ... Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette, nursing an upset stomach, did not play.

Cousins eliminated in first round of Skills Competition by eventual champ Porzingis

Cousins eliminated in first round of Skills Competition by eventual champ Porzingis

Big men continue to reign supreme in the NBA All-Star Saturday night skills competition.

New York Knicks 7-foot-3 forward Kristaps Porzingis won it, beginning his journey by beating Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and ending it by besting Utah's Gordon Hayward.

Those vanquished in earlier rounds included guards John Wall of Washington and Isaiah Thomas of Boston, both because they couldn't make their initial 3-pointers required to close out the course before Hayward did.

Porzingis emerged from the big-men's division that included the Pelicans' Anthony Davis and Denver's Nikola Jokic.

Porzingis and Hayward were neck and neck until the end of the course, but Porzingis hit his 3 first to end it.

The three-round, obstacle-course competition tests dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills.

Former Warriors, Kings forward Webber named Basketball Hall of Fame finalist

Former Warriors, Kings forward Webber named Basketball Hall of Fame finalist

NEW ORLEANS -- Chris Webber and Rollie Massimino are one step from the Hall of Fame.

The career 20-point-per-game NBA scorer and the coach who led Villanova to a stunning upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship game were among the 14 finalists unveiled Saturday for this year's Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.

Webber played 15 seasons with five franchises, plus was part of Michigan's famed "Fab Five" group that headlined college basketball in the early 1990s.

"I don't know what I'm most proud of," said Webber, who averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in his career and was a five-time NBA All-Star. "I'm proud to be in the room with all these great individuals."

Other first-time Hall of Fame finalists include longtime NBA referee Hugh Evans, Connecticut women's star Rebecca Lobo, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief, Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, Kansas coach Bill Self, and two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

"I still can't believe I'm here," McGrady said. "This is not even a dream come true."

Previous finalists returning to the ballot include star point guard and Olympic gold medalist Tim Hardaway, winningest all-time boys high school coach Robert Hughes, Notre Dame women's coach Muffet McGraw, former Wisconsin coach and four-time Division III national champion Bo Ryan and 10-time AAU women's national champion team Wayland Baptist University.

"We are grateful to the 14 finalists in the Class of 2017 for the impact they have had on the game we cherish," Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo said. "To be named a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment."

Inductees will be announced at the Final Four on April 3. Enshrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts are scheduled for Sept. 7-9.

Massimino, now an 82-year-old cancer survivor who is still coaching at NAIA school Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida, is a finalist for the first time. His Hall of Fame hopes have been backed by plenty of current and former coaches in recent months - including current Villanova coach Jay Wright, who presented Massimino with a championship ring from the Wildcats' 2016 NCAA title.

"Some days, we do take him for granted," Keiser guard Andrija Sarenac said. "But then you see him on TV so much, you see all these videos made about him, the movies about Villanova and everything, and it just hits you. You realize that he's a legend. I mean, your coach is a walking legend. With the energy and everything he comes in with, it's inspiring."

Finalists need 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee to be enshrined. Among this year's candidates who did not make the finalist group: Muggsy Bogues, Ben Wallace, Kevin Johnson, Maurice Cheeks, Mark Price, Lefty Driesell and Eddie Sutton.

Former New York Times sports writer Harvey Araton and former Turner Sports broadcaster Craig Sager will be recognized during Hall of Fame weekend as this year's Curt Gowdy Media Award recipients.

"A tremendous honor," said Sager's wife Stacy.

This year's lifetime achievement award recipients are former UConn coach Donald "Dee" Rowe and Michael Goldberg, who spent nearly four decades as executive director of the NBA Coaches Association. Goldberg died earlier this year.

"He bridged the gap between ownership and coaches," said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, who spoke about Goldberg on Saturday while wearing a bow tie - one of the signature wardrobe accessories that Goldberg donned for years. "He was just such a great guy."