From Comcast SportsNetCHICAGO (AP) -- Tom Thibodeau sent a strong wake-up message to his team at a heated shootaround Monday morning. He got the response he was looking for.Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Luol Deng scored 18 points and the Chicago Bulls held Atlanta to a franchise-low 20 points in the first half of a 97-58 victory over the Hawks on Monday night."Early this morning, Tibs was going crazy on us at shootaround. Just waking up early in the morning and having Tibs just screaming at you and screaming at you and screaming at you," center Joakim Noah said, "we didn't want that to happen to us again."We were ready for this one. We had the right mindset, played with the edge and we rebounded the ball really well. Everyone came in and stepped up."Reserve forward Mike Scott scored 10 points to lead Atlanta as none of the starters reached double figures. Josh Smith and Kyle Korver had nine points each.Jeff Teague had a layup with 7.9 seconds left to prevent the Hawks' lowest scoring total in franchise history.Atlanta has lost five straight on the road and six of seven overall."This was very, very embarrassing," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "From where we were as a team to where we're at right now, we have lost all sense of team on both ends of the floor. And why that's happened I really can't put my finger on it."The Bulls held the Hawks to just five points in the second quarter and led 48-20 at the break. Ivan Johnson had a basket for the Hawks with 2:54 left in the first quarter, and Atlanta did not score again until Al Horford's tip with 5:15 left in the second. The Hawks missed 17 consecutive shots during the drought while getting outscored 14-0.They finished the 2 for 21 from the field in the second quarter, with Smith making a free throw and a jumper for Atlanta's other points. The Hawks shot 20.5 percent on 8-of-39 shooting in the first half. Josh Smith was 3 for 10 and Horford 2 for 8 in the opening two periods."The disturbing thing is the effort part. I shouldn't have to come out and coach effort every single night. Effort is what your being paid, to bring effort every single night. Maybe it's the chemistry right now," Drew said. "I'm going to have to do something to kind of jump-start us again."Right now we've flatlined. Not just from a physical standpoint. Mentally we have flattened. I've got to find a way to resuscitate this team."Boozer had 14 points and Deng eight to help the Bulls to their halftime lead. Noah had 12 rebounds in the half and finished with 16 boards and nine points.The Bulls set a record for the fewest points allowed, eclipsing the previous mark of 59 by Orlando last March 19. Atlanta's 20 points in the first half also set a Chicago record for the fewest allowed in a half, bettering the 22 scored by the Knicks in 1999. The Bulls also limited New York to five points in the second quarter of that game."We have to play a certain way," Thibodeau said. "When we came out I thought Joakim and Carlos set the tone."The Hawks' previous scoring lows were six points in a quarter (at Minnesota) in 1994, and 25 in a half -- accomplished three times, most recently against New Orleans in 2011.Noah wasn't surprise by the defensive performance."I wasn't shocked, but our mindset was more be ready for the first 5 or 6 minutes of that third quarter. We had been in positions where we were up by 25, 26 points and lost before. So we feel no lead is big enough," Noah said.Tensions heated up in the third quarter. After Hamilton was called for an offensive foul on Devin Harris, Harris pushed Hinrich hard to the floor as he was attempting a layup. Hinrich had to be restrained by teammates after he rushed toward Harris, who was called for a flagrant one. In separate incidents, Teague and Smith were called for technicals in the third quarter."We just couldn't buy a bucket and we weren't getting any calls going to the basket. I guess we've got to grind a little harder when it's more adversity hitting us in the face," Smith said.Taj Gibson, who had five blocks, got fans on their feet with a thunderous dunk over Anthony Tolliver to put the Bulls up 79-47 with 7:13 left.NOTES:The Bulls' biggest lead was 44 points. ... In the teams' last meeting, the Hawks beat the Bulls 92-75 in Atlanta on Dec. 22. ... Hawks G Anthony Morrow missed the game with a lower back injury.
Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies
BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:
"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.
"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.
"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.
"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.
* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.
* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.
* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.
* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games
* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.
* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.
* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.
* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.
* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.
1) Steven Wright
Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.
2) Travis Shaw
Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.
3) Blake Swihart
Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.
A day after the Bruins announced a much-maligned four-year contract extension for defenseman Kevan Miller, B’s general manager Don Sweeney held court with the media to equal parts explain/defend the $10 million deal. Sweeney pointed to the very high character of a hardnosed player in Miller, and the relatively low mileage given that he’s played only 159 games at the NHL level.
There was also mention made of the room to grow in Miller’s game, though it’s difficult to imagine a much higher ceiling for a 28-year-old player than what the former UVM produced showed in 71 games last season.
“Kevan brings incredible character. His signing provides us with the necessary depth on our defense that all teams need. His relative low-mileage, having just played 160 games, we identified that we think Kevan has room for continued growth and development,” said Sweeney. “We certainly saw that in his play this year when he had an expanded role. Relative to the free market place, very, very comfortable with where Kevan fits into our group, and this provides us with the opportunity to explore the marketplace in every way, shape, or form, in having Kevan signed.”
Here’s the reality: Miller is a 5-6, bottom pairing defenseman on a good team, and a top-4 defenseman on a team like last year’s Bruins that finished a weak 19th in the league in goals allowed. The five goals and 18 points last season were solid career-high numbers for a player in the middle of his hockey prime, but he barely averaged 19 minutes of ice time per game as a front top-4 defenseman. Miller struggles with some of the fundamental needs in today’s NHL if you’re going to be a top-4 D-man: the tape-to-tape passes aren’t always accurate, there’s intermittent difficulty cleanly breaking the puck out of the defensive zone and Miller was exploited by the other team’s best players when paired with Zdeno Chara at points last season.
Certainly Miller has done some good things racking up a plus-55 rating during his three years in Boston, but executives and officials around the league were a bit surprised by the 4-year, $10 million contract extension. It’s viewed as a slight overpay in terms of both salary and term, but it’s more the redundancy of the contract that’s befuddling to some.
“Miller is certainly a rugged guy, but you already had one of those at roughly the same value in Adam McQuaid. I believe that you can’t win if you have both McQuaid and Miller in your top 6 because they are both No. 6 D’s in my mind,” said a rival NHL front office executive polled about the Miller contract. “You look at the playoffs and the direction that the league is headed in, and you need to have big, mobile defenseman that can quickly move the puck up the ice. You have too much of the same thing with Miller and McQuaid, and I think you can’t win with that in this day and age.”
The one facet of the four year Miller contract that might make it okay for some Bruins fans: the tacit connection to the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. According to several sources around the league, the Bruins taking care of Miller now will very likely have a positive impact on their chances of landing Vesey when he becomes a free agent on Aug. 15, and makes them the front-runner for the Harvard standout’s services. Both Miller and Vesey are represented by the same agent in Peter Fish, and those are the kinds of behind-the-scenes connections that many times factor into free agent signings and trades around the NHL.
So many, this humble hockey writer included, may owe Sweeney a slight apology if paying a $10 million premium for a bottom-pairing defenseman in Miller now pays dividends in landing a stud forward like Vesey that’s drawing interest all around the league.