Bulls

Despite loss, Rose enjoyed All-Star experience

392647.jpg

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.

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

1020_bobby_portis.jpg
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.”

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

quincypon.png
USA TODAY

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

Quincy Pondexter’s trade to Chicago makes him a newcomer. His birth certificate makes him a veteran. But it’s his story that makes him worth listening to.

Even in the eye of team chaos, Pondexter’s debut with the Bulls had such a special meaning that when he entered the game to start the second quarter, he thought he would come to tears.

Having been out of basketball the last two years after knee surgeries went bad, Pondexter came close to dying in a New York hospital in January when his organs began to fail after a MRSA infection.

Catching MRSA can often lead to death.

“It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. I prayed. My family was there close to me. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. It’s all God. This journey has been amazing.”

His journey took him from being in New Orleans, where his knee troubles started, to being an addition to the Bulls in a trade months ago when the Bulls picked up cash and a second-round pick from the Pelicans.

Pondexter joined high school teammate and close friend Robin Lopez on a team needing some leadership, and due to the punch Bobby Portis threw to Nikola Mirotic Tuesday afternoon, it put Pondexter in position to get on the floor as a backup power forward behind rookie Lauri Markkanen.

If the Bulls were smart, they’d probably put Pondexter in a room to talk to his teammates about his struggles, especially the two teammates who may have to share the same floor in several weeks.

“The competitive nature of our team has been really terrific and we wouldn't want to trade that for anything,” Pondexter said. “It hurts those two guys aren't here right now. But we love them and we love what they brought to this team.

“I think my age on my ID solidifies me as one of the veterans. When you do things the right way, that's what it means to be a veteran. Show up first, last one there. That's what it means to be a veteran. Establishing myself there and doing things that are right, the guys have followed and listened and embraced me and I love it.”

No word on whether Pondexter got teary-eyed when he got a breakaway steal and dunk for his first points since the 2015 playoffs, when the Pelicans were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Warriors.

“I know I’m going to get emotional on the court later on and probably tear up,” Pondexter said after the morning shootaround. “I told Robin that a thousand times. People don’t know what you’ve been through. There are a lot of times they’re not there besides your close family and friends. I appreciate them carrying me through this whole process.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg can relate to Pondexter, with Hoiberg’s heart ailment cutting his career short. When the Bulls coach speaks about the frailty of the game and how precious things are in the NBA, Pondexter is living, breathing proof.

“I’m really really happy for Quincy. For a time there, his life was in danger with his infection. I know he’s really excited to get his career going again,” Hoiberg said. “I never got that opportunity to get back out there. I tell these guys to cherish it ever day. You never know when it can end. All of a sudden. For Quincy to get this chance, it’s awesome.”

Pondexter, with the straightest of faces, called basketball his “obsession” and he felt happy to get back on the floor, if even for a few minutes.

“I love it to death. It’s my life,” Pondexter said. “Basketball is what got me through it---my family and basketball. It was like, ‘How can I make this story even better? Do I quit?’ No. I watched so many inspirational movies, 'Hacksaw Ridge.' They get you through tough times because you say, ‘That’s going to be me.’ I’m going to be able to inspire someone down the road. That’s really helped me.”

A hamstring injury slowed Pondexter in training camp, which would explain his lack of explosive lift in the season opener.

No one was really sure if the Bulls would hold onto him for the season, but it’s clear he holds value beyond the box score. When he finished his media session, Lopez turned to Pondexter and said, “Now you’re stuck with me”, putting his arm around his teammate.

“Being able to play after two and a half years, it feels like hundreds of surgeries, getting traded to this organization. It's been a lot,” Pondexter said. “I wouldn't trade any of that for this moment right now and how I feel in my heart. I can't wait to get on this floor and play with my teammates and try to do something special. The journey is worth it.”