NBA

Coverage of pro basketball, with emphasis on the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.

 

Thibs
Derrick Rose came ready to play on Thursday night and prove to the national audience watching on television that he is still one of the best point guards in the league.

Entering Thursdays matchup against the San Antonio Spurs Rose had averaged 24.0 ppg on .484 shooting in his previous six games. The Bulls on the other hand were not playing so hot-losing six of their last eight. However,Thursday night just may have been the breakout game Chicago needed, and the proof that Rose can still lead a team that the critics needed to see.

Rose led the Bulls with 22 points on 9-15 shooting and ignited the early spark by getting to the rim, rather than settling for jump shots in the first half. The result? The Bulls beat the defending champion, San Antonio Spurs (27-17) 104-81 and played arguably their best game of the season.

The win could not have come at a better time for Chicago (28-16), who lost on Monday night in Cleveland, which resulted in Rose calling out his team, and a player-coach-meeting with Tom Thibodeau.

“I said what I had to say, and I think my teammates took it to heart” Rose said after Thursday nights win. “That was my first time ever doing that, and it showed tonight that guys were a little bit composed.”

It was not only Rose who came to compete against San Antonio. All five starters would score in double figures and Aaron Brooks came off the bench to score 15 points in 24 minutes. While it was a nice win- to get the Bulls back on track, coach Thibodeau still had to address the rumors of being on the “hot seat” after the Bulls recent struggles, and reports he may have lost the locker room.

“As I told you yesterday, I could care less, couldn’t care less, and I don’t think our team couldn’t care less about that stuff,” Thibs said.

Well, maybe Thibodeau did not have much to say about the issue, but Rose stuck up for his coach after the game.

“This don’t have anything to do with Thibs at all,” Rose said. “The way that we’ve been playing don’t have anything to do with Thibs. He’s preparing us right. He’s doing everything and did everything possible to prepare us as a coach. It is up to the players to give that effort.”

Even Spurs head coach Greg Popovich had to answer questions about Thibodeau.

“He’s not gonna lose any team,” Popovich said before the game. “I think you guys just have to have stories. So somebody loses a few games, there’s got to be a reason. I guess that’s the one that was picked. Sometimes players listen to me. Timmy stopped listening to me a long time ago. I don’t even coach him. You guys think I’m kidding. He just plays. I talk to him once in a while, but sometimes some guys don’t want to hear it”

Popovich clearly did not want to talk about problems in Chicago when he has his own team to deal with and a NBA Title to defend this season. Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 16 points but was held scoreless in the second half. Leonard also had the tough task of guarding a focused Derrick Rose and struggled to keep up with the former MVP who would score 14 of his 22 points in the paint.

Jimmy Butler also had a nice bounce back game after a two week slump, scoring 17 points and Pau Gasol— who was named a starter on the Eastern Conference All Star Team added 12 points and 16 rebounds. The Bulls will travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks Friday night.

Post Game Audio below.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

It only took me two classes in high school to realize that science was not for me and my time would better be spent on other subjects… like girls or sports.

I would go thru the motions because it was a necessary evil and there was nothing I could do about it. If I knew that my Trivia Crack score in the science category would be so low, I would have made more of an effort learning about E = MC².

My gaming woes and pure scientific ineptitude is not the purpose of this article but the lackluster enthusiasm I had for science is equivalent to the Bulls attitude towards their match up against the Orlando Magic.

From the opening tip, the Bulls appeared to be going thru the motions and didn’t have the intensity fans are used to seeing from a Tom Thibodeau coached team. The Magic jumped out to a 29 – 21 lead, on 61% shooting and dishing out 8 assist as a team.

Derrick Rose scared the crowd for a couple of seconds when he went down after a Victor Oladipo foul in the 2nd quarter. Rose was quiet for most of the night but had some explosive plays in the 4th quarter to finish with 18 points and 7 assists.

Rose still hasn’t played a complete game but shows spurts when he gains some confidence after hitting a couple shots. If the Bulls want to make a run for a title, Rose will need to be attacking for 48 minutes when it is June.

Nikola Vucevic was determined on being the best Nikola in the building tonight, as he finished with 33 points, as he was 16 – 24 from the floor and added 11 rebounds. Vucevic was completely destroying Pau Gasol on the offensive side of the court all game and capped off the 3rd quarter with a massive dunk over Gasol.

Magic C Nikola Vucevic

Magic C Nikola Vucevic

Please find the highlight on the internet… it’s that good… search Vucevic makes Gasol look like a small boy and it should pop right up.

Entering the 4th quarter, the Bulls trailed by 15 and were never able to overcome their 1st half deficit. Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson did their best to breathe some life back into their team but it was too little too late.

The Bulls have an unhealthy reliance of coming back in the fourth quarter and this time they fell short.

I was able to pass my science class and move on from the mind numbing world of neutrons and electrons. For the Bulls, they have to contemplate the theory of relativity of the NBA season for a couple more months.

See what I did there?

Tom Thibodeau questions his teams edge after the Bulls Magic game

@WesEvans24

 

 

Gasol

The Chicago Bulls came into Saturdays home matchup against the Boston Celtics short handed and uncertain on who would be in the starting five. Wings Mike Dunleavy and Jimmy Butler both missed Saturdays game but lucky for Chicago, Pau Gasol showed up as usual.

Gasol scored 29 points and added 16 rebounds and 5 blocked shots and reserve forward Nikola Mirotic chipped in ten points and 8 rebounds to help the Bulls escape the Celtics 109-104 in overtime.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would not name the Bulls starters until about an hour before tipoff and when he finally did it was announced Mirotic would be making his first start at the small forward position.

” I thought overall ( Mirotic) did very well. Thibodeau said after the game. ” He didnt shoot the ball great, but he made alot of great plays. He spaced the floor well. He has been working hard in practice and has been developing confidence there. I thought he made alot of good plays to get Pau going too which helped us get established inside.”

Besides Mirotic moving over from his original power forward position to make an impact saturday, Gasol was his usual self, playing 38 minutes and shooting 9-16 from the floor.

” ( Pau) is unbelievable. We see it night after night” Thobodeau added. “All the things he does on both sides of the court. He had a 9 blocked shot game, then to follow it up with a 5 blocked shot game. He got many rebounds, and got to the free throw line. The way he plays it gives your team alot of confidence”.

In what was a sloppy game by both teams, The Celtics hung around late in the fourth quarter thanks to Chicago native, Evan Turners game high 28 points on 12-20 shooting— including 4-5 from 3 point land. After trading buckets, the Celtics would tie the game at 99 with 2.6 seconds to play off a Jared Sullinger ( 16 points, 13 rebounds) put-back basket. Chicago would call a timeout and draw up a perfectly executed open shot for Aaron Brooks, that would fall just short. Despite the hot shooting of Turner, the Celtics (11-20) would not be able to hang with the Bulls in the extra period.

” We left too many situation points on the floor. We got out-rebounded and I made a mistake and threw the ball away” Turner said when asked what went wrong in overtime. I misjudged Green and Hinrich ran right past it. It was my fault. ”

Despite the loss, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from Turner and the effort his young team put up against one of the Eastern Conferences powerhouse units.

” The best part of ( Turners) game was that he did not have a good first half and he had a great second half” Stevens said in his post game press confrence. ” He put us on his backs for a little bit in the second half”

Speaking of putting his team on his back, Gasol, who was once again brillant— has not only become a force on the court, but in the locker room as well. Thibodeau said after the game that Gasol’s ” actions speak louder than words”

” Pau has been great” Joakim Noah added on saturday. ” He has been huge for us all season. He is one of the constants every-night. His offensive game is really big for us.”

Through 31 games, Gasol is averaging 18 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and the Bulls are 24-10 and in first place in the Central. However this season the Bulls have their sights on more than just regular season accolades.

Notes from Saturday nights game…

– Jimmy Butler ( bereavement leave) and Mike Dunleavy ( right ankle) sat out

– Aaron Brooks scored 19 points of the bench. He has now scored in double figures eight of his last ten games.

– With Saturdays win, the Bulls have now won nine of their last 10 overall and eight of their last nine home games.

– Chicago pulled down a season high 24 offensive rebounds and out rebounded the Celtics 59-45.

Mike Dunleavy meets with the media

Mike Dunleavy meets with the media

Since Tom Thibodeau has taken over as head coach of the Chicago Bulls, they have never been a team to look back and wonder, “What if?” — not that anybody would blame them if they did. Two major knee injuries to Derrick Rose have robbed Chicago from a legitimate chance to compete for a title, and the Bulls again failed to land their main free agent target this offseason in Carmelo Anthony.

“I don’t want to look backward,” Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s practice. “It didn’t work out then, but it worked out for everybody in the end. We feel very good about having the opportunity to get Pau.”

Indeed the Bulls definitely hit the jackpot signing a rejuvenated (and healthy) Pau Gasol, and rookie sensation Nikola Mirotic, (who continues to improve every time he steps on the court). Chicago has yet to reach full potential, mainly due to injuries, but still find themselves 15-9 and 1st in the central division heading into Thursday night’s matchup against Carmelo’s New York Knicks.

Meanwhile Melo might be wondering “What if?” in New York, where his Knicks are a putrid 5-22. Anthony has recently stated that he, “was close to signing with the Bulls,” but in the end chose to remain in New York, where he signed a five-year, $124-million deal.

Joakim Noah, who spent the offseason trying to persuade Anthony to come to Chicago, also does not dwell on the what ifs.

“I am a live-in-the-moment kind of guy,” Noah said Wednesday when asked if he wonders what life with Melo could have been like. “I don’t try to dwell on what could have happened. I’m really happy with what we have right now. Were a deep team, and we are striving for something pretty different for what they’re striving for in terms of goals this year.”

Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy knows things could have been much different for him this season and was asked if he every wonders where he would be if Anthony had become a Bull.

“Not really, I would be playing basketball somewhere,” Dunleavy answered. “Obviously I am really happy to be here. Sometimes It’s nice to have a Bentley, but a Honda Accord will get you there as well.”

So while Melo may be a flashy, explosive Bentley the Bulls just couldn’t afford, they seem to be just fine settling for the less glamorous “Honda” Dunleavy had mentioned. Gasol is averaging 18.7 points and 11.9 rebounds so far this season and more importantly is already becoming a great teammate.

“He definitely brings a good attitude, a positive attitude to the team,” Noah said Wednesday. “He’s just a good guy to have around, somebody who has seen it all. Its good to have a new voice in the locker room.”

Click below for more coverage of Weds practice.

Joakim Noah talks to the media after Tuesdays practice.

Joakim Noah talks to the media after Tuesdays practice.

The Chicago Bulls have definitely improved offensively so far this season.

With the addition of Pau Gasol, and departure of the smaller/less effective Carlos Boozer, the team has upped their points per game average from 93.7 to 102.6. Strangely enough, it has been the defense that has struggled at times.

The Bulls (12-8) are allowing an uncharacteristically high 100.5 points per game and have struggled to stay healthy in the first chunk of the season. Joakim Noah is not worried just yet, however.

“We are 20 games in now, and I still believe we can get a lot better.” Noah said on Tuesday. “Guys are working hard and I just believe that we will be a lot better.”

The Bulls center sat out Tuesday’s practice with a knee injury and is not expected to play in Wednesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Bulls have been hampered by injuries in the first few months of the season and have struggled to “gel” on the court.

Luckily for the Bulls, the Brooklyn Nets also have some big man injuries of their own. Brook Lopez is out at least a week with a strained lower back. Lopez is averaging 16.1 points per game along with 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.

While Noah will most likely miss Tuesday’s game, Derrick Rose will play and hopes to break out of his own recent struggles.

Rose scored only 9 points on 2-11 shooting in Saturday night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors, and has become reliant on his jumper rather than attacking the rim since his return from injury. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is hoping Rose can return to elite status again soon.

“He has to attack,” Thibodeau said on Tuesday. “That’s the bottom line. Some teams are going under [picks] and some teams will adjust to a blitz. All I know is when he’s pushing the ball up the floor and attacking, that’s who he is. He can’t defer. He can’t pace himself. He’s got to go. That’s the big thing. He’s got to go.”

The Nets will enter Tuesday’s matchup with an 8-11 record and will be missing two of their top scorers in Lopez and guard Joe Johnson (Illness). The Brooklyn Nets could be just what the doctor ordered for a team looking to get back on track.

Click below for audio from Tuesdays practice