Bulls

Happy Left-Handers Day: The best lefties in Bulls history

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AP

Happy Left-Handers Day: The best lefties in Bulls history

It's International Left Handers Day (which is actually a thing) today, which got us thinking: Who are the best lefties in Bulls history?

The current roster has just one lefty, point guard Cameron Payne, and the last lefty before him was Acie Law in 2010. Before Adrian Griffin became an assistant for the Bulls he played for them in 2008. And both lefties Othella Harrington and Randy Holcomb played for the 2005-06 Bulls.

None of those players make the cut for the five best Bulls lefties in franchise history. But here's who does:

5. Bob Weiss (1968-1974): Perhaps not as familiar a name as the other players on this list, Weiss holds a special place in Bulls lore. He was the second piece of a trade with Milwaukee in 1968 that brought Bob Love to the Bulls in exchange for Flynn Robinson. Weiss was both a reliable scorer and passer for the Bulls in the early 70s. He played six of his 12 NBA seasons in Chicago, where he averaged 9.5 points, 4.3 assists and made better than 83 percent of his free throw attempts. He's 8th all-time on the Bulls assist list with 2008 helpers. He was reliable, too, missing just three games in the five full seasons he played in Chicago.

4. Jalen Rose (2001-2003): The second player on our list is likely remembered for the time he spent with the Pacers, where he helped lead Indiana to a Finals appearance in 2000, or Toronto, where Kobe Bryant dropped 81 on him. But Rose's best statistical seasons came in Chicago. The Bulls acquired Rose at the 2002 trade deadline, a deal that sent Ron Artest, Ron Mercer, Brad Miller and Kevin Ollie to the Pacers. The Bulls also receive Travis Best and Norm Richardson. Rose averaged 23.8 points in 30 games for the Bulls post-deadline, then averaged 22.1 points the following season for a 30-win Bulls team. The Bulls then dealt Rose to the Raptors the following year, acquiring Antonio Davis and Jerome Williams in the deal. In 128 games, Rose averaged 21.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists in nearly 40 minutes per game.

3. Toni Kukoc (1993-2000): The only player on this list with a Bulls championship ring, Kukoc will go down in NBA history as one of the top international players of all-time (he and Manu Ginobili can argue about the top international lefty). All Kukoc did in seven Bulls seasons was average 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists out of primarily sixth man role. He was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 1996, and he was instrumental in the Bulls' second three-peat. He's littered across the Bulls all-time record books, including 3-pointers (9th), assists (10th) and steals (10th).

2. Guy Rodgers (1966-1968): Rodgers only played two seasons with the Bulls, but he made them count. In 85 games he averaged 17.6 points and 11.0 assists. He led the NBA in assists per game in 1967, when he was named to his fourth All-Star team. He recorded 908 assists that season, at the time an NBA record, and currently the Bulls' single-season record. His record stood in NBA history until 1972-73, when Tiny Archibald (another lefty) recorded 910 assists. Rodgers was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.

1. Artis Gilmore (1976-1982, 1987-1988): Who else? The A-Train remains the greatest center in Bulls history, having averaged 19.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks over seven seasons. The first overall pick in the 1976 ABA dispersal draft was named an All-Star in four of those seasons, led the NBA in field goal percentage twice and helped the Bulls to two playoff appearances. He was traded to the Spurs in 1982 for Dave Corzine and Mark Olberding, but Gilmore returned for 24 games in 1988, averaging a modest 4.2 points and 2.6 rebounds at 38 years old. He became a Hall of Famer in 2011. Quite the lefty.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.