Bulls

Bulls: Dwyane Wade's top five performances at the United Center

Bulls: Dwyane Wade's top five performances at the United Center

Dwyane Wade has always been one to put on a show, and doing so in his hometown has been no exception during his 13-year NBA career. Now Wade will play half his games in Chicago, after agreeing to a two-year, $47.5 million deal on Wednesday. He’s bound to put up masterful performances inside the United Center, so here’s a look back at his five best to date:

5. Feb 2008: 30 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 11-21 FG

In the midst of the Heat’s worst regular season in franchise history – one that landed them the No. 2 pick and Michael Beasley – Wade did his best to lead a second-half charge on the road against a Bulls team that would wind up picking first the following year (drafting Derrick Rose). The Chicago native scored 19 points and dished out three assists in the second half, playing all 24 minutes. Ultimately his efforts came up short in a seven-point loss.

4. May 2011: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals

Wade’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals he and LeBron James led an incredible comeback in the fourth quarter to close the series. Miami trailed by 12 with 3:14 to play on the road, the Heat closed on an 18-3 run that included eight points from Wade, including a crucial four-point play. He also assisted on a LeBron James triple the previous possession, and two Chris Bosh free throws gave the Heat an 83-80 lead before James blocked Derrick Rose on the final attempt. Wade wasn’t great for the first 45 minutes, and he committed nine turnovers, but his talent was on full display down the stretch.

3. March 2012: 36 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 16-26 FG

Wade’s highest scoring total at the United Center came in a loss, but he almost turned it into a win with a ridiculous fourth quarter. Miami trailed by 11 heading into the final stanza when Wade turned it on, scoring 19 points in a 21-point span for the Heat (LeBron James scored the other two) that cut the deficit to four with 1:22 remaining. He missed a triple in the closing minute that would have cut the deficit to just one, and Kyle Korver free throws essentially iced the game.

2. January 2016: 28 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists,

With the Heat having lost six straight, and missing Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic, Wade put the team on his back in an important win. With Miami trailing 82-81 with 3:31 to play, Wade scored or assisted on the Heat’s final eight points to push them to a five-point win. His 28 points were more than he had scored in a month, and he committed just one turnover in 35 minutes against a Bulls team that had just gone wire-to-wire in a win over the Cavaliers.

1. January 2011: 33 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4-7 3FG

The two Chicago kids went at it in the fourth quarter of a game where the Heat were without LeBron James and lost Chris Bosh in the second half. Derrick Rose and Wade went back and fourth in the final minutes, beginning with a Rose layup to give the Bulls a five-point lead inside two minutes. Wade connected on a 3, with Rose answering with a three-point play after getting fouled on a jumper. Wade then hit two more triples on consecutive possessions to give Miami the lead with 37 seconds left. A Kyle Korver triple allowed the Bulls to escape with the win, but Wade’s solo act in the final minutes were yet another reminder of just how deadly he can be down the stretch. Now he’ll get to do the same for his hometown team.

 

Bulls are unlocking something with Zach LaVine: 'He was terrific'

Bulls are unlocking something with Zach LaVine: 'He was terrific'

MINNEAPOLIS—The applause was thunderous on the welcome back for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, two Timberwolves draft picks sent away when the chance to acquire Jimmy Butler came along.

But some of the air was taken out the Target Center due to the absence of Jimmy Butler, who’ll miss the next several weeks after deciding to have surgery on his right meniscus following an injury Friday night.

So while there was no rematch of the thrilling contest the two teams had in Chicago, some things were very much the same.

Lauri Markkanen’s struggles continued.

LaVine showed more flashes of his complete game and Dunn had a couple moments of his own.

And on the other side, Tom Thibodeau kept his starters in the game with victory secured and his team up 20 points in the Timberwolves’ 122-104 win over the Bulls Saturday night.

The Timberwolves broke the game open in the fourth quarter with some key shot-making from veteran Jamal Crawford, as he was one point short of the Timberwolves having four 20-point scorers on the night.

Jeff Teague, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins combined for 70 points in their first game of many without Butler.

LaVine was a main reason the Bulls stayed afloat in the first 36 minutes, finishing with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds in his first game back in front of the Minneapolis crowd he spent his first few years playing for.

Going head-up with his former teammate Wiggins for a stretch, the two seemed to relish their practice matchups. Wiggins was doing a lot of pure scoring while LaVine seemed to enjoy probing the defense and making plays for teammates, taking more of a ballhandling role as opposed to floating around the perimeter for 3-point attempts.

“He’s doing a much better job not settling for tough shots,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s attacking the basket much better than he was. You can just see him getting his legs, getting more comfortable. It was good to see him as a playmaker, he was terrific.”

Perhaps the Bulls are unlocking something with LaVine, getting him the ball in different places and on the move, where he made some nifty passes in traffic, exercising patience and maturity.

“I liked it. Hopefully we get a little bit more of it,” LaVine said. “But it’s working. Should’ve stuck to it.”

They didn’t, as the Bulls didn’t look as organized as they have previously. Dunn looked extremely motivated and aggressive but it seemed to work against him at times as Teague took advantage of Dunn being too quick for his own good. So hyped up, Dunn blew a breakaway dunk in the first half, but luckily Nwaba was right behind him for a putback.

That type of energy was expected for Dunn and LaVine, maybe even moreso for Dunn considering his underwhelming rookie year where he didn’t get much chance to play as a top-five pick.

Dunn finished with 10 points on four of 12 shooting while Cameron Payne scored 11  in 19 minutes, but the decision making from both point guards left plenty to be desired—which is to be expected given the lack of veterans on the floor.

Their starting unit again struggled as Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez again sat as the evaluation of the younger players continued.

Cristiano Felicio had a better outing than his foul-plagued game against Philadelphia, scoring 11 points but had his hands full on the other end. David Nwaba impressed for the second straight game as a starter, getting in the open floor to force the action, scoring 14 with nine rebounds in 34 minutes.

“The second quarter, I thought, was one of our better quarters of the year,” Hoiberg said. “As bad as we played in the first quarter, I thought we were down 20. We just didn’t sustain it. Against a great team like that, it’s gonna cost you.”

Nwaba, along with Bobby Portis, was a big reason why the Timberwolves couldn’t run away from the Bulls until well into the fourth quarter, even after taking a double-digit lead in the first quarter and sending Hoiberg scrambling for early timeouts.

“You can expect it because you haven’t played with that group before,” LaVine said. “We’re gonna get that chemistry down. We (only) had a couple practices with that lineup.”

Whether it’s the lineup change or just the rookie blues, the year has clearly caught up with Markkanen, who only made one field goal in 32 minutes.

“Gotta get some extra shots up. I see myself thinking too much,” Markkanen said. “That’s how it is. Of course it’s frustrating to not make shots but it is what it is. Gotta work through it.”

Markkanen has gone one-for-eight in each game coming from the All-Star break and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

“He’s shooting the heck out of the ball in practice,” Hoiberg said. “He’s struggling right now with his confidence, no question about it. As a shooter, you gotta keep looking to be aggressive, take the open ones. It takes one game to get that confidence back.”

Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg

Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg

MINNEAPOLIS — That feeling of having your knee buckle out of nowhere, Zach LaVine is all-too familiar with it.

That feeling of being on the sidelines and watching Jimmy Butler’s knee give out, Fred Hoiberg has been there, too.

Different perspectives, and different reactions but Butler’s knee injury produced a sick feeling to many who watched it Friday night. Butler turned to pivot in the Timberwolves’ game against the Houston Rockets and immediately collapsed on the floor, having to be carried off.

LaVine tore his ACL in Detroit over a year ago, while it was revealed Butler suffered a right meniscus injury. But it looked all the same and LaVine understood the uncertainty Butler must’ve been feeling before the MRI revealed it wasn’t an ACL injury.

“It’s scary,” LaVine said following morning shootaround at the Target Center Saturday afternoon. “I wish him the best. You don’t want to see that happen to anybody. Especially a player of his caliber and what he’s done for the team.”

When LaVine injured his ACL, he actually played a few more minutes before being removed and going to the locker room. The time between being evaluated by doctors and them coming back feels like a lifetime.

“It’s scary. You know you hurt yourself, you don’t know how bad,” LaVine said. “You think you’re good, you’re a tough minded person trying to get through it.”

“I saw him on the ground trying to get up, (Rockets guard) Chris Paul made him sit down. Jimmy’s a tough dude. Thoughts and prayers going out to him.”

Butler and LaVine were the centerpieces of the draft day trade involving the Bulls and Timberwolves. With Butler suffering the injury the night before playing his former team a second time, the timing produced a bunch of memories.

In Hoiberg’s first year with the Bulls, Butler went down in a somewhat similar manner in Denver, a non-contact injury. It looked just as bad, and Butler was taken off the floor in a wheelchair.

Thankfully it was a right knee strain that cost him several weeks but it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Considering the minutes he’s played over the last few years, Hoiberg was asked if Butler pushes himself too hard to be on the floor.

“Jimmy he wants to be out there,” Hoiberg said. “I remember the first year in Denver, he went down with what looked to be a serious injury. Thankfully he was back on the floor after 15-16 games.”

Actually, Butler missed 11 consecutive games before coming back for a nationally-televised game against the Rockets, playing 34 minutes in a Bulls win and missing the next three games for recovery.

“We really worried when he went down but it wasn’t something that ended his season,” Hoiberg said. “Jimmy’s a worker. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve seen. It’s a huge reason for the type of player he is, that work ethic to make him one of the elite players in the league.”