Bulls

Despite loss, Rose enjoyed All-Star experience

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Despite loss, Rose enjoyed All-Star experience

Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011
Posted 10:40 p.m. Updated 11:46 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

LOS ANGELES Derrick Roses modest stat line Sunday 11 points, five assists, three rebounds and a steal didnt come close to approximating the Bulls point guards typical performance, but despite his relatively quiet evening and the fact that his East team lost, 148-143, the third-year superstar wasnt overly disappointed.

Not at all, answered the ever-competitive Rose when asked how if he felt badly about the defeat at the hands of the West. The regular season, Id die for one of those games. Those are very important, but this is for the fans.

Just being able to see the fans, he continued when asked about his favorite part of the weekend. The fans here are great, came out to support us. I hope they had fun. Ive got a lot of fans here cheering me on, cheering the team on. I wouldnt take it back for anything. It was exciting.

As for the game itself, the West team hopped out to an early lead, buoyed by the scoring of hometown favorite Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Oklahoma City small forward Kevin Durant (34 points). Bryant (37 points) won the games MVP award, the fourth occasion hes taken home the honor in the leagues annual affair.

Both teams were really going at first, then the West got up by a large amount. But we fought our way back in, made it kind of a tough game, said Rose. It was too late. It was definitely too late. Thats what we get for waiting that long.

Its an All-Star game. Its not like everybodys playing their top defense, he continued. Youre not on your team, so other than talking and communicating with each other, its real hard to tell people to play a certain type of defense.

Although Roses East teammate, Miamis LeBron James, recorded a triple-double (29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists) and sparked the conferences near-comeback, Rose came away most impressed with Bryants performance.

I have to say Kobe. He was out there doing his thing and thats what he normally does. He loves games like this. Thats why hes one of the best players in the NBA, marveled Rose. He played great. You kind of knew that he was going to try to show out tonight, especially being in his hometown. The Lakers are here, the fans are here. You kind of knew he was going to come out and go for it.

Rose, whos used to having the ball in his hands as a dual scoring-playmaking threat, also discussed the difficulty of keeping his high-powered teammates happy in the exhibition contest.

These games are hard, man. Theyre definitely hard for me. Its just one game, youre out there and youre just playing, playing with great players and Im a point guard. So, getting people the ball, trying to feed people, find people in the open court thats what point guards are basically used for in this type of game, he explained. If Im shooting too much what other guys are thinking and stuff like that it comes into play, especially playing on a team with people youve only been practicing with only one time.

Still, he did appreciate the fact that the likes of the aforementioned James could also share ballhandling responsibilities.

Rose stated: If anything, you get rest. You see how rested you get when you dont have the ball in your hands all the time. Coach Thibs only has a couple plays where the ball isnt in my hands when Im in the game, so Ill probably have to tell him to put some more in.

However, Rose did admit to being slightly disappointed in his outing, specifically his slow start, as he scored only two points in the first half.
Benny the Bull caught "Bieber Fever," after spotting pop icon Justin Bieber sitting courtside for the NBA All-Star game on Sunday. (AP)
Not being prepared for the game. I didnt shoot in a couple of days. Not practicing when we were supposed to practice, said Rose. All that comes into play, so Ive got to get back in rhythm, get back to my routine and hopefully do well in the next game that we play in.

All about the shoes

Rose created a minor fashion stir by first wearing a yellow version of his signature shoes, then switching over to the latest update of the model, Adidas adi Rose Zero 1.5, which hell wear for the remainder of the NBA season.

I heard about it the yellow shoes the whole game, said Rose of his eye-catching footwear, which were themed after the colors of his alma mater, Simeon Career Academy. Other players teased him Why did adidas put you in those shoes and stuff like that, but it was all fun and games. Theyre my shoes, so I love them.

I came up with the idea about wearing the yellow ones, then wearing my new shoes that Im going to wear the rest of the year and adidas kind of listens to everything I tell them, he continued. Shout out to Simeon because I didnt wear No. 25 (the number he wore in high school; Simeons top player traditionally wears that number in memory of slain 1980s Simeon star Ben Wilson) they thought that I was going to wear No. 25 when I came into the NBA, but I went with No. 1 so the yellow shoes are definitely for them.

Back to business

Even with the light-hearted nature of the weekend, Rose turned serious when discussing the Bulls season, which he has even higher hopes for with the impending return of center Joakim Noah from injury.

Just keep winning. Stay focused, keep winning and play with an edge. It seems like every time we play with an edge, we always have success, so thats what were going to try to do, said Rose. Weve got to keep balling. We cant take any steps back where its hurting us. If anything, I think itll help that Joakim is coming back because he brings energy and hes a great guy.

His conditioning looks all right, but its nothing like game condition. We have a lot of confidence in him when he comes back, he continued. Hes shooting the ball well right now. Hes got the cast off now and is shooting well. I think when he comes back, hell probably shoot a jump shot in a normal game because hes been working on it.

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.

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

In the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Kendall Gill recap the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, look at the continued growth of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, and discuss if Bobby Portis is part of the Bulls’ long term future.

They also check in on LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, discuss whether or not the Golden State Warriors can make another title run and the latest on the status of San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard. The guys also discuss how Oklahoma guard Trae Young could look in a Bulls uniform if he’s available for them in the draft.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.