Noah joins Rose as Bulls' walking wounded


Noah joins Rose as Bulls' walking wounded

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
11:22 AM
By Aggrey Sam

TORONTOHeading into Wednesdays game against the Raptors, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose was still unsure if he would play, as he recovers from injuries suffered in Mondays win over Indiana.

Ill have to see. Later on tonight, Ill make the decision. But if not, I have confidence in my team where I think we can still win this game, Rose told CSNChicago.com before the teams morning shootaround at the Air Canada Centre. Im still sore. My hip and my elbow are very sore right now, but thats basketball. Youre not always going to feel good, but youve still got to go ahead and do your job.

My wrist is fine, my ankle. Its just my elbow and my hip that are really bruised.

Rose, ever the competitor, would be chagrined at having to miss the contest, especially since the Bulls are in the midst of a six-game winning streak.

It would be tough, man, said the All-Star. Knowing that were on a roll right now and for me to sit out now because of a stupid injury, it hurts.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau gave his standard response about Roses situation prior to the shootaround.

Well see this morning after he goes through the shootaround if hes fine. He said he was feeling better, but we want to make sure he goes through the shootaround, said Thibodeau. If he doesnt have any problems, yes. He said yesterday he was feeling better and I talked to him last night again and he said he was feeling better then, so if everythings good, hell go.

Rose told CSNChicago.com that the notion that he should start playing with more caution bothers him a little bit.

In basketball, its going to be aggressive sometimes, Rose explained. Theres going to be times where you take hard fouls or youre going to fall hard, but youve just got to play through it.

If he doesnt suit up, Rose is confident that backup point guard C.J. Watsonwho scored 33 points in a last-second November loss at Denver in Roses absencewill fill in admirably.

Hes an aggressive point guard that can score the ball and run the team, so I have a lot of confidence in him. I remember I hated playing against him when he was in Golden State because he was always able to attack, so thats all I tell him, Rose told CSNChicago.com. Just play his regular game and everything will come to him.

Rose isnt the only Bulls player dealing with complications from an injury. Center Joakim Noah is dealing with soreness in his right hand.

Were going to diagnose it tonight, said Noah, who indicated that he would attempt to play through what was described as bruised tendons by a team source to the Chicago Tribunes K.C. Johnson, who first reported the story.

His hand is nicked up. Hell go through shootaround and if hes fine after going through shootaround, he plays, explained Thibodeau, who said any decision on whether Noah plays Wednesday will be made by the teams training and medical staffs, as well as Noah himself. I dont know specifically what it is. Two knuckles, his thumb. Those are the two areas where hes experiencing some soreness.

Basically, all the big guys in the league go through this. Their hands are constantly being raked. Its hard to recover from it because it continues to happen when youre rebounding the ball or going up for shots and they continue to strip. His shooting hand is nicked up.

Despite the maladies of two key Bulls, the teams mentality of the entire roster being able to fill in for a sidelined teammate will possibly be tested, as Rose and Noah are perhaps the most indispensable members of the team. Not that Thibodeau sees a major issue if they sit out, current winning streak or not.

Theyre going to go through shootaround. If they go through shootaround and there arent any problems, they play. If they go through shootaround and there are problems, they sit, Thibodeau explained. Thats the way it is and if thats the case, the next guy steps up and he does the job.

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.

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other


Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

It'd be a stretch to say that any rookie is having a better or more impactful season than Philadelphia's Ben Simmons. The Sixers are 9-7, and Simmons looks like a 10-year veteran with his decision making, athleticism and all-around feel for the game. He's the frontrunner for MVP, but there are two other rookies vying to catch Simmons and win that title. And they'll face each other tomorrow night in Los Angeles.

Lonzo Ball was the second pick in June's NBA Draft, and fellow Pac-12 freshman standout Lauri Markkanen went five picks later to the Bulls, who had traded up as part of the Jimmy Butler trade. Both players were drafted to rebuilding franchises - the Lakers still working out the kinks in the post-Kobe era, and the Bulls beginning their rebuild after dealing Butler - and were expected to make immediate impacts on their franchises.

Ball's was more pronounced, as the Lakers dealt D'Angelo Russell to the Nets on draft night to free up space at the point for their prized No. 2 pick. Markkanen's came more abruptly, as the 20-year-old was thrust into the starting lineup after Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic's fight put Mirotic in the hospital and Portis on paid leave. However they got there, both players have been impressive in their early NBA careers.

Starting with Markkanen, the Bulls knew the 7-foot stretch forward was a perfect build for the modern NBA. He set freshman 3-point and rebounding records that, since 1992, only some guy named Kevin Durant had reached. After a successful summer in Eurobasket he was set for a large role with the Bulls, and he's succeeded in just about every aspect. His 15.6 points per game are third only to Simmons and the other Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, and his 8.1 rebounds are second to Simmons. And his 2.6 made 3-pointers per game are most among rookies, and well past No. 2 on the list (Utah's Donovan Mitchell, 1.9 per game).

In fact, Markkanen would become the only rookie in NBA history to average at least 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers per game. The 2.5 3-pointers would break a rookie record currently held by Damian Lillard (2.3 per game). The closest a rookie has ever come to reaching those marks was Stephen Curry, who averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 3-pointers per game as a rookie. Allen Iverson also met the 4/2 threshold, but that's a far cry from Markkanen's 8/2.5 mark. Paul Pierce's rookie season saw him average 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers.

But that's not all. If he kept those averages up he would be just the fifth player EVER to accomplish those thresholds. The others are James Harden, Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Antonie Walker, who naturally did it twice.

So, yeah, Markkanen is having quite a rookie year.

So, too, is Ball. While he's had some real issues with efficiency, slashing .313/.228/.462 and has committed 2.6 turnovers per game, his counting stats have been outstanding. Ball is averaging 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists, and that puts him in equally impressive company.

Simmons has reached those numbers this season, too, averaging 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists. You may have heard of the other two players, named Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

The two future Hall of Famers averaged these numbers:

Robertson: 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.7 assists (missing averaging a triple-double for the season by 20 assists)

Johnson: 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists

Ball is also averaging 0.9 blocks, and no other rookie guard has ever accomplished that. It might not always look pretty for Markkanen and Ball as they feel their way out in the NBA, but just remember watching these two that they're in the midst of making history in the new era of the NBA.

Lauri Markkanen has career-high 26 points in loss to Suns

Lauri Markkanen has career-high 26 points in loss to Suns

Lauri Markkanen continues to impress.

The 20-year-old rookie had a career-high 26 points in the Bulls' 113-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. He also picked up 13 rebounds.

After the game, in which the Bulls fell to 3-11 on the season, coach Fred Hoiberg had high praise for the Finnish.

"I thought Lauri was phenomenal," Hoiberg said. "But when he is open, we gotta get him the ball. When he's got it rolling like he did tonight, guys were switching and we had him a couple of times with the point guard buried in his back and we didn't get him the ball."

Watch what Hoiberg had to say about the Bulls' tight loss in the video above.