LAS VEGASIt was ugly at times, as these things tend to be, but the Bulls 2012 summer-league debut ended with an effort that typified the regular-season teams effort over the past few seasons, as they rallied from a large deficit, but ultimately lost to the Boston Celtics, 79-74, Tuesday night at Cox Pavillion on the campus of UNLV. Swingman Jimmy Butler, the teams only returning player on the summer-league squad, led the way with an eye-opening 25-point outing in the defeat, which was observed by Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Gar Forman.
After first-round draft pick Marquis Teagues transition layup to open the contests scoring, followed by a three-point play by Butler, it appeared that the mostly anonymous Bulls summer-league squad had the chops to battle Boston, one of the more impressive teams in Las Vegas. But after a competitive first quarter, the Celtics, featuring several young players who could be in the rotation during the regular season, opened up a wide winning margin and dominated the action in the middle two quarters, as the backcourt of ETwaun Moore and Dionte Christmas was stellar.
There were bright spots, however, particularly Butler. Yet to enter his second NBA season, the swingman made up for lost timethe Marquette product didnt have a summer league before last season, as the lockout wiped that aspect of rookie development outas he was aggressive from the games outset. Butler showed off the skills hes honed during Berto Center workouts, both during a debut campaign in which he received scant playing time and since the Bulls season ended, and while it wasnt a true NBA game, he appeared to be prepared for an increased role, as he
Teague, on the other hand, struggled with outside shooting, ball-security issues and defense, as Moore, a second-year Celtics guardand ironically, an Indiana native, like Teaguemade his life difficult on both ends. While Teague was impressive in his ability to push the ball and get to the rim, it was also evident that there will be an adjustment period before he can be expected to make a major impact, though this is summer league and things often arent as good or as bad as they seem initially.
Of the players who arent guaranteed roster spots or even training-camp invites, power forward Malcolm Thomas was perhaps the Bulls most notable performer. The San Diego State product, who had a cup of coffee with the Spurs last season as a rookie, was extremely active from the start to finish on both ends of the court, using his length and athleticism to be a force on the interior.
Chicago would cut a double-figure deficit to just a two-possession game late in the affair, but in the end, the gap was simply too much to make up, as the rebounding of Celtics first-round draft pick Jared Sullinger and second-year forward JaJuan Johnson, as well as the outside shooting of the aforementioned Christmas and Moorenot to mention former University of Illinois guard Jamar Smith off the benchensured that Boston held on. Still, for a roster with low expectations compared to many others, the showing was more than respectable.