Bulls

Bulls put on clinic, set record with 33-point win

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Bulls put on clinic, set record with 33-point win

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Posted 9:49 p.m. Updated 11:17 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
ATLANTA All Bulls, all the time.

At least thats how it felt Tuesday night in Phillips Arena, where the Bulls (51-19) dismantled the Hawks (40-31), 114-81, sparked by a first half in which they shot 73.8 percent from the field.

Derrick Rose (30 points, 10 assists, 6-for-8 from three-point range) and Luol Deng (27 points) served as ringleaders in the teams second consecutive blowout victory.

Bulls do something Rose has never seen before

Chicago emphasized its interior offense early, with Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus preference of penetration and post-ups being followed, as both Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah (eight points, seven rebounds) established themselves scoring the ball, as did Rose and Deng via the drive.

Boozer and Noah would depart the former was replaced by an energetic and productive Taj Gibson (nine points, eight rebounds, two blocked shots) - leading Rose and Deng to redouble their efforts to ensure the visitors maintained their advantage.

We came out ready to play. We had good balance. Carlos really got us going with his post-up early. Derrick very aggressive, Luol very aggressive. Great leadership from those guys, sharing the ball. Its good stuff, said Thibodeau, who joked Thats who we are when reporters asked him about the Bulls high point totals in back-to-back games, the first time the team won by 30 in consecutive outings since 1995.

We just want to be consistent with our approach, we want to be able to count on the defense, he continued. If we play the right away offensively, where we push the ball up the floor, get some easy baskets, go inside-out, share the ball and take care of the ball dont turn it over were going to be in position to win. I liked how unselfish we were. I thought the ball was hopping.

In fact, as Chicago buckled down defensively, Deng drove and finished at will and Roses blend of playmaking and scoring continued to baffle the Hawks with his former backcourt mate, Kirk Hinrich, guarding him.

Sometimes it gets hard, but to win games to win a championship it takes defense. Were just trying to stay together on defense, knowing that we cant take any steps back right now, stated Rose. I think that were moving in the right direction.

Echoed Deng: It starts with our defense. When our mindset is right on defense, we seem to work harder on offense. When were not as focused on defense, it kind of leads to our offense. Were kind of just going through the motions. It always starts with defense.

Dengs hot hand carried over to the second quarter, as he helped the Bulls second unit extend the teams advantage over their hosts. As productive as Deng was he scored 16 points before a well-deserved rest the reserves didnt miss a beat after his exit, further extending the lead with their torrid shooting from the floor.

Luol is Ive said this all year you cant say enough about what that guy does for our team and often times, it goes unnoticed, but to none of us. The way hes playing is spectacular, said Thibodeau. Our bench is playing great. Cant say enough about the bench, all of them C.J., Ronnie, Kyle, Taj was great, Omer, Kurt did a great job in limited minutes but everybody on the bench played great for us.

Every Chicago basket seemed to demoralize Atlanta who wasnt shooting poorly, but simply couldnt stop the Bulls and the gap continued to widen, as Bulls starters and reserves alike appeared to be incapable of missing a shot.

Rose and understudy C.J. Watson (eight points, six assists) had their way off the dribble as did Deng when he wasnt knocking down three-pointers, along with Kyle Korver Boozer took advantage of his bulk to abuse Hawks defenders and Gibson did the dirty work with flair.

Behind a team-wide unselfishness (16 first-half assists) leading to 73 percent shooting from the field, the Bulls, in their refusal to take their foot off the gas, took a commanding 72-43 lead into the intermission.

Perhaps the strongest indication that the Bulls had it rolling was the final play of the half. Following an Atlanta turnover with 4.3 seconds remaining, Rose took an inbounds pass full speed, stopping at the three-point line to size up Hinrich, then stepping back to bury his fourth triple (in four attempts; three in the period) of the half at the buzzer, tying him with Deng for a team-high 20 points at the break.

Im happy to be on the team thats doing it. Its better than being on the other side. Its just one of those games, said Rose of the quarter, in which the Bulls shot 81 percent from the field, missed only four shot attempts and scored 41 points.

You feel it as a player. Everything is going right, especially when youre playing defense. I think our defense really gets everything started the fast break, easy points then, weve got a lot of players on our team that when they get going, it can really take us to another level.

Thats what they were giving me. I told you, Im not going to stop shooting, no matter what, he continued, describing his individual efforts from long range. If they go under a screen or if Im open, Coach tells me to shoot the game tells me to shoot so Im putting a shot up.

Chimed in Deng: Just the way that the game went, I thought all of us did a good job with being smart, driving. We just did a good job of really moving the ball. They did a lot of switching out there and we had a good game plan for that.

Chicago didnt let up in the third quarter, as Roses individual three-point barrage persisted and the Bulls made a concerted effort to get Noahs offensive game going early in the period.

Although their ridiculous percentage dropped a tad, the Bulls lead - which surged above the 30-point mark, gradually grew. Roses penetration, Dengs versatile scoring and Noahs activity on the boards enabled the visitors to keep their substantial winning margin intact, by the count of 98-60 at the conclusion of three quarters.

The onslaught continued in the final stanza, as Chicago s bench kept pouring it on against a shamefully effortless Hawks squad. The extended garbage time rendered what was left of the Phillips Arena crowd lifeless, as they were well aware that unlike the Bulls last trip to Atlanta on March 2, there was no remarkable comeback in store.

When we came in, we knew that we were going to have to come in and play. Right when we got the lead, we were just telling each other that its not going to happen again, recounted Rose. When we get the lead, thats when we have to be tough.

Added Deng: Weve been there before. Its not the first time we had a huge lead. The main focus was to really come out in the beginning of the third quarter and just play, dont look at the score. Tonight we didnt play to our opponent. We just played Bulls basketball, just like we do in practice. Play defense, move the ball and execute.

At this time of the season Coach keeps talking about it its time to really get better. Its time for everyone to lock in, he continued.

We know the playoffs are coming up and were trying to do great things in the playoffs.

Box Score

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.

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

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AP

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

Los Angeles—Lauri Markkanen called himself “The Finnisher” when asked what the movie of his life would be called.

Apparently, that moniker didn’t apply to the All-Star Skills challenge as he took down the best big men but couldn’t close against a former Bull, Spencer Dinwiddie, in the final.

The contest highlights players’ ability to dribble around cones shaped like NBA logos, throwing a chest pass into a net while having to complete a layup and then 3-pointer before their opponent does.

Markkanen took down Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before facing off with Dinwiddie. He held a pose after hitting a triple to beat the uber confident Embiid, in what will likely be used as a memorable gif following the weekend.

His confidence doesn’t come across as blatantly as Embiid’s, but that snapshot shows he’s no humble star in the making. He didn’t even practice for the contest, by his own admission.

“I heard some of the guys did,” Markkanen said. “I didn’t do much, just before the competition, I did a little warm-up.”

Missing on the first pass attempt into the circular net in the final, it gave Dinwiddie the advantage he wouldn’t relinquish, hitting on his second 3-point attempt before Markkanen could make it downcourt to contest.

“It’s a lot harder than I’ve seen,” Markkanen said. “I thought it was gonna be super easy but it was kind of tough. Maybe I need to hold my follow through (on the pass).”

“I saw he missed (the first shot) and I started going. I thought he would’ve missed it too. I think I would’ve gotten it on the third shot.”

Being one of the multi-dimensional big men in today’s game who can be adept on the perimeter as well as the interior, it almost seems like the contest was made for Markkanen. Although he doesn’t do much handling in Fred Hoiberg’s offense, it’s clearly a skill he will develop as time goes on.

The last two winners of the skills challenge were Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, and Markkanen was well aware of the recent trend.

“The last two years the bigs have won,” Markkanen said. “I’m kind of pissed that I couldn’t keep the streak going after (those two). I think there’s a lot of guys who can do that now, it’s why they changed the format to bigs versus smalls.”

For Dinwiddie, who was discarded by the Bulls last season after a promising start in the preseason so they could pick up R.J. Hunter, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity with Brooklyn.

“I think for Chicago it was just another series of unfortunate events,” he said. “They were in win-now mode. I was an unproven guard on a non-guaranteed contract and they felt Michael Carter-Williams gave them a better shot to win.”