Bulls

Pacers to use 'Rose plan' against Bulls

Pacers to use 'Rose plan' against Bulls

Saturday, April 16, 2011Posted: 12:05 PM
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

With the whiteboard in the United Center visiting locker room reading Rose Plan under the Pacers defensive keys, Indiana leading scorer Danny Granger didnt exactly back away from his comments about Derrick Rose being a virtual one-man gang, although he did acknowledge some of the other weapons on the Bulls.

Luol Deng has always been a great player. I think he really thrives because he gets a lot of stuff off Derrick Rose. A lot of people pay so much attention to Derrick RoseI could also mention Carlos Boozer, although I think Derrick Rose is the primary force, Granger said before Saturdays Game 1 of the Bulls-Pacers first-round playoff series. He does a lot for them, as far as scoring and setting up everybody else on the offensive end, and weve got to do our best to slow him down.

I didnt use the word rules specifically because I didnt want the comparison, said Frank Vogel, who became the Pacers head coach after Jim OBrien was firedironically, a day after losing to the Bulls. We know what we have to do against him. Weve just got to execute it.

Were thinking about a planfull-court man-to-man press, half-court zonethings weve never played before, joked the 37-year-old, who would only reveal that starting point guard Darren Collison would begin the game guarding Rose. We believe in what we do. Were going to play our defense with a few different wrinkles for him. Were here for a reason. Were a good basketball team.

Without being too specific, were going to have a couple different guys go at him at different times and really just have to guard him with five guys. We understand that no one guy can stop him and its got to be a team effort.

Indianas young coachthe youngest in the leagueand star player arent concerned with the perception that theyre outmatched and plan to stick with what got them into the postseason.

Basically, we started playing together a little bit more. Were young so we make a lot of mistakes, but were always trying to be unselfish, playing together, moving the basketballthat helped us win a lot of games, said Granger about the teams in-season turnaround. We didnt come here just to play a few games and lose. We came here trying to win and I think everybodyI dont care what seed you areif you dont come into the playoffs with that mindset, bad things are going to happen.

Our youth is definitely a disadvantage, but in the same instance, weve got to start somewhere. It starts here for a lot of our young players and itll be a good learning experience. The pressure, honestly, is on them. Everyone thinks were going to lose anyway, so we can come out and play free, and try to get a win.

Concurred Vogel: Predictions that the Bulls will sweep the Pacers are irrelevant to us. We believe in ourselves.

Weve proven we can score 115 against a team like this, he continued, referring to the Pacers overtime win over the Bulls in March. We can be fruitful offensively. We have confidence we can score on anybody and were confident we can defend, as well.

Weve gotten here by playing together, playing as a team and thats how were going to continue to playYou cant win in the playoffs without playing physical basketball.

Granger also referenced the overtime upsetin which Rose scored a career-high-tying 42 points, but fouled out in the extra sessionand says the Pacers will try to implement some of the successful aspects of that game plan to the postseason matchup.

We did a good job of attacking their defense. They have the best defense in the league and we used some schemes to attack them. We were successful that time. Were going to try to carry that over to this series.

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.