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SportsMonday: Dunks, Hat Tricks & Big Blue

Happiness is Stacey King describing a replay of a big Bulls dunk. And the home team threw down just enough of those and dropped in just enough three-pointers to squeak by the Pistons 95-94 on Sunday night.

It was a victory that is admissible as powerful evidence on my side in an argument I have too damn frequently: The pro game, even between mediocre teams in the midst of a long and grinding season, is far more enjoyable to watch for true basketball lovers than the college game even at tournament time.

In this case, the Bulls-Pistons match - a game both teams could have mailed-in - was 10 times more exciting than any of the Elite Eight games over the weekend.

Consider the play of Jimmy Butler. His big dunk came in the fourth quarter off of one of his game-high five steals.

It certainly wasn't flashy, and it certainly was uncontested, but it generated well-timed momentum. And the Bulls needed every last bit of momentum (and every last point) down the stretch against an extremely pesky Pistons squad.

Butler's slam was actually the only one of the fourth quarter for the Bulls. Fortunately for the fans, they did have at least one other big dunk earlier - Carlos Boozer's baseline throwdown - that was a big part of the home team staying close to the Pistons throughout the third quarter. They did so despite ever-present player absences due to injuries and the fact that they were playing far from their best ball.

Here are the highlights:

The win was especially satisfying because it came on the heels of an infuriating loss to Dallas on Saturday. The Bulls led by double-digits late in that one thanks to Nate Robinson's awesome display of distance shooting. The big little man shot seven times from beyond the arc during the first 47 minutes and made all seven.

But a fatigued Bulls team - in part because of injuries and in part because Tom Thibodeau refuses to accept that if he doesn't get his stalwarts a little rest early on they won't play well in the closing minutes - gave that lead away and then watched as Dirk Nowitzki drained a game-winning three with less than three seconds left.

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Hawk Tawk
The Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators tonight and guess what? It's Floppy Hat Night! Pray for a hat trick.

It's certainly possible. The Hawks are coming off a satisfying 7-1 win over the Red Wings on Sunday. Here are the highlights:

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Patrick Sharp has not returned, as I expected, and Marian Hossa remains out. Here's Patrick Kane talking about the team's injuries:

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Big Blue Blues
Michigan advanced to the Final Four over the weekend so we'll all have to suffer while the city's many Big Bluers smugly go about their business until Syracuse sends them home on Saturday.

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For Openers
* Letter From St. Louis: Letter From Spring Training
* The Cub Factor: Spite TV
* The White Sox Report: Cold Open To A Mediocre Mystery

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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