Bulls

Boozer-less Bulls bow to Bobcats once again

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Boozer-less Bulls bow to Bobcats once again

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011Posted: 9:40 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

A second bite at the apple wasnt enough for the Bulls (28-14) to overcome the Bobcats (16-24), even at home, as visiting Charlotte defeated Chicago, 83-82, Tuesday evening at the United Center, despite Derrick Roses 33 points. For once, Rose couldnt muster any last-second heroics, failing to hit a game-winner for the Bulls and giving the Bobcats their second win over the Bulls in a less than a week.

Thats a great accomplishment for us because this team has not been known to win against winning teams and as a matter of fact, theyve been getting blown out," said Bobcats head coach Paul Silas, a midseason hire. "Tonight was just the opposite. We hung in there and gave ourselves a chance to win. Weve been doing that the last few ballgames, but tonight was very special because they are a very, very good team. Im not going to say weve got their number, but were playing them well and thats what counts.

An active Taj Gibson (nine points, nine rebounds, six blovked shots) helped Chicago get off the marks in a positive fashion, but Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin (15 points, five assists), power forward Boris Diaw (12 points) and center Kwame Brownthe first-quarter scourge of the Bulls last week in Charlotteprovided the visitors with scoring balance. Despite Roses (33 points, five rebounds, four assists) scoring punch, the United Centers efficient-shooting guests from the Tar Heel State erased the Bulls early winning margin and overtook their hosts to take a 27-24 lead into the second quarter.

In the first quarter, I thought our defense was very poor and then I thought it caused us to start pressing, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team committed 14 turnovers, in addition to shooting a season-low 39 percent from the field. Youve got to make simple plays against this team. You try to thread the needle and you try to go too much one-on-one, that doesnt work against this team.

You cant turn the ball over against this team, he continued. We created our own problems. Another big first quarter for them, similar to the game down there. You cant win like that.

After reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer (12 points, five rebounds) began the subsequent period with two consecutive jumpers, Chicagos offense got stagnant, as the recently reliable second unit couldnt manufacture offense consistently. With the reinsertion of Rose, that changed.

Sharpshooter Kyle Korver knocked down his first shot attempt, then found Brewer on a nifty backdoor feed for a running, one-handed reverse dunk baseline. Korver maintained his hot handperhaps carried over from his prolific scoring afternoon in Memphis the day beforeto hit a triple, prompting new Bobcats head coach to call a timeout with the home team making up ground swiftly.

Although the Bulls clearly had momentum, the end of the half didnt go in their favoran apparent Augustin travel was missed by the officials, much to the fans displeasureand they trailed, 47-44, at intermission.

Rose, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, went on one of his trademark individual spurts, almost singlehandedly lifting Chicago past the visitors to start the third quarter. Following the Bulls initial pushthey started the quarter on a 13-4 runthings werent as one-sided, as Charlotte recovered, putting its fate in Augustins hands.

In the battle of floor generals and close off-court friends, Rose struck the quarters final blow, draining a 3-pointer just before the period ended, to give Chicago a 66-64 advantage heading into the final stanza.

Bulls head coach Thibodeau kept his rotation short on this eveningGibson, starting in place of injured starting power forward Carlos Boozer, played nearly the entire contest and responded with a second consecutive big defensive outingand by starting Rose in the fourth quarter (instead of backup point guard C.J. Watson, who typically enters the contest at that juncture), the message that he wasnt taking any chances with the games outcome was sent, despite sending in Watson to give him a brief rest.

Without Rose in the contest for the time being, the Bulls maintained their slim advantage through solid defensive play and timely scoring from the likes of Brewer and veteran Kurt Thomas (six points, 10 rebounds, two blocks), who combined with Gibson and Luol Deng (10 points, eight rebounds, four assists) to give the home team an edge on the boards.

An interesting off-the-ball sequence in which Thomas and former Bull Tyrus Thomas antagonized each other until the latter was finally assessed a foul was followed by a bizarre incident where Brewer and Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace (13 points, 16 rebounds, four assists) got tangled up. Brewer upended Wallace, causing Wallace to apparently tweak his ankle, then kick Brewer in retaliation, drawing a technical foul.

At the end of the game, Wallace got going, observed Deng. He was crashing, getting second-chance looks, but thats the kind of player he is. Youve got to take that away from him."

Added Silas: Gerald, he was just terrific tonight, offensively and defensively. Thats what hes got to do all the time.

Wallace responded with his play, throwing down a monstrous follow-up dunk over Korver on the subsequent Charlotte possession. This was followed by a typically exciting Rose lightning-quick drive and finish, after which Wallace, now in attack mode offensively, went directly at Korver, drawing a foul.

The events basically repeated themselves, with Rose hitting a floater and Wallace responding on the other end with a tough finish, plus the foul for a three-point play, giving the Bobcats a one-point lead. After a timeout, Rose got a layup rejected, but gathered the ball and finished his next attempt.

With 47.5 seconds remaining, Bobcats swingman Stephen Jackson (12 points, five rebounds, three assists) answered, hitting a turnaround to give the visitors an 81-80 lead. Following a timeout, Rose found Brewer under the basket and he kicked it out to Deng, who missed an open 3-pointer.

I thought we had good looks. I had the best lookwide-open at the 3-point lineI thought when it left my hand, it was good, said Deng. Nothing went our way.

Added Brewer: When D-Rose threw me the ballas a basketball player, you always try to be aware of your surroundingsand when I had it, I knew Gerald Wallace is an above-average shot-blocker.

I felt him coming down aggressively, so I tried to pivot and I saw Lu wide open on the 3-point line. Thats kind of his bread-and-butter shot and it was a good look.

Jackson corralled the rebound and was fouled with 36.3 seconds left. He nailed both free throws and on the ensuing trip, Rose dropped in a floater.

Charlotte milked precious time off the clock before calling timeout with 10.3 seconds to go.

Explained Gibson: "Weve been in that situationand we fouled too quickly, so we wanted to just trust our defense first, let our defense sort it out.

Watson deflected the Bobcats inbounds pass and after initially being ruled Charlottes possession, an official review reversed the call, giving it to the Bulls with 8.2 seconds on the clock.

Charlottes Thomas blocked a Korver layup attempt out of bounds with 3.1 seconds left, giving Chicago one final chance underneath their own basket. The inbounds came to Rose, but his closely-guarded, fading jumper from the top of the key fell short with no time remaining.

When I came off, I was just trying to get to the middle as quick as I could and just try to get something off, but it was short, Rose explained afterwards. It was a good look, but short. Just learn from it. Next time Im in that position, Ill just shoot it as high as I can.

It was a lack of energy tonight. We didnt play that hard. This is whats going to happen if you dont go out there playing aggressive and with intensity.

Added Thibodeau: There were a few different options off of it. We knew Derrick would get a lot of attention on the play. They made a good play.

Derrick was the first option on the play, he continued. What happened is, on the back pick, they had two go with Derrick and Kyle was wide open. It was the right play and they made a good reaction from the weak side and got the block.

In the end, when you lose a game by a point, theres a lot of plays that lead up to it. Hey, weve got to do better.

Concluded Deng: Honestly, its one of those games. I dont know what it is. I dont want to take anything away from them. I just think were better than we played against them twice. At the same time, I just think theyre athletic, they play hard...it wasnt really one of our best games, for whatever reason it is. I thought we played great with a lot of energy. Today, just the little things werent going our way.

It was just one of those nights. We tried to get it going; nothing was going.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls' Bobby Portis publicly apologizes to Nikola Mirotic: 'I'm wrong for what I did'

Bulls' Bobby Portis publicly apologizes to Nikola Mirotic: 'I'm wrong for what I did'

Bobby Portis publicly issued an apology to Nikola Mirotic for the punch that broke two bones in Mirotic’s face and caused a concussion earlier this week.

Portis was suspended eight games by the NBA while Mirotic will be out 4-6 weeks after he goes through concussion protocol, following an incident in Tuesday’s practice where the tensions boiled over between the two power forwards.

“I'm wrong for what I did. I want to publicly apologize to Niko,” said Portis outside the Bulls locker room at the United Center, hours before the home opener against the San Antonio Spurs. “I feel like I let my fans, the Bulls organization, and most importantly my teammates down. This is not who Bobby Portis is.”

Sticking to clear talking points, repeatedly saying “we were competing” as a way to describe the incident, it was a more toned down version of Portis. Portis is usually colorful and engaging when talking to the media.

Saturday, he was muted, almost robotic in a sense. And he didn’t want to go into the incident in detail, one that many sources have said was instigated by Mirotic as the two were going back and forth physically during several possessions.

The play before, things intensified, causing assistant coach Randy Brown to step in and break things up. The next time downcourt, Mirotic apparently charged at Portis and Portis responded with one punch that sent Mirotic to the floor.

Gently choosing his words, Portis said, “We were competing and kinda went back and forth and things happened.”

When asked if he was shoved, Portis reiterated the two were competing although numerous accounts say Mirotic did push him leading up to the direct incident.

“Yes I was surprised by my own action,” Portis said. “That's not who I was, as I first stated. I'm a competitor at the end of the day but I never meant to hurt my teammate.”

Portis and Mirotic have not yet spoken, although Portis said he’s called and texted Mirotic with no response. It hasn’t been determined whether Mirotic will take legal action on Portis.

“Not concerned with that at this point,” Portis said. “At this point I’m just trying to publicly apologize to Niko and my teammates, and that I’m real sincere about the situation.”

Portis will be allowed to practice during his suspension, having returned Friday and Portis believes things can be mended with he and his teammate.

“Going forward I want to make sure that me and Niko are cool and we can be teammates again,” Portis said. “I'm pretty sure we can. We just have to repair this relationship.”

Justin Holiday said the issue will have to be addressed head on as opposed to being swept under the rug or letting the element of time naturally heal things. Whether that conversation is initiated by teammates or the coaching staff or front office, as long as both are wearing a Bulls uniform, it will be necessary.

“It hasn’t been arranged, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have to talk it out,” Portis said. “And I’m pretty sure it will be a gentle conversation. I’m pretty sure we can get past this.”

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

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AP

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

The mending hasn’t yet begun for the Bulls, but perhaps a good sign in moving forward from the Bobby Portis punch that delivered a concussion and broken facial bones to Nikola Mirotic is that it isn’t being ignored.

Fred Hoiberg is being tight-lipped about where matters stand, but he did at least say Portis returned to practice and apologized to the team Friday afternoon. Hoiberg wouldn’t reveal the contents of Portis’ apology and Portis didn’t address the media, but it’s clear things aren’t business-as-usual at the Advocate Center.

“Bobby was back at practice. It was good to have him back in here,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously, everybody’s looking forward to having Niko back in here, as well, hopefully soon.”

When asked about Portis’ spirit, Hoiberg deflected and preferred to talk about what adjustments the team will have to make in the immediate future, especially with rookie Lauri Markkanen having to go against Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge in the home opener Saturday night.

“That’s the biggest thing we have to do as far as preparing until we get our guys back, is throwing different lineups out there and hopefully getting better with our execution,” Hoiberg said.

Justin Holiday admitted that things aren’t normal, saying the actual games to start the season won’t serve as a welcome distraction because this isn’t something that can just be treated trivially.

He wouldn’t venture into getting into his teammates’ head, saying “Bobby came into today like Bobby. We’re not quite sure what he’s thinking mentally. We can’t assume that.”

But one thing that can’t be assumed is a sweeping under or pretending.

“I mean I don’t necessarily think this is a situation for us to get past,” Holiday said. “I think it’s a situation that obviously (needs) to be brought to the forefront. It’s a situation that needs to be taken care of for those two to be able to come together and be brothers again. I don’t think we’re trying to get past it.”

Holiday has been a leader during this early time, so his words and definitive tone were noticeable.

“They say sometimes you need time to heal,” Holiday said. “Again, we have to think about both situations in this. One guy is trying to get back healthy. And again, I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish we could just fix this the right way, but that’s not the case.”

It’s complicated all around, with no real precedent.

For Hoiberg, his handling has two faces. Since Portis is able to practice but has to sit out seven more games on a team-mandated suspension, he has to walk the line of incorporating Portis in daily drills and activities but also has to prepare a team that wasn’t prepared for two power forwards being out for an extended period.

That was on display Thursday as Quincy Pondexter likely played that position for the first time in his career, and it’s highly unlikely Paul Zipser practiced there at all with the depth the Bulls had until now.

“We have to get our guys ready to play positions that they haven’t played,” Hoiberg said. “We’re getting them in here early. We’re getting a group in to work on our execution. Quincy not only hasn’t played in two and a half years but I don’t know if he has ever played the 4.

“You just have to do the best with what you have.”