Bulls

Rose displaying unselfish play, trust in teammates

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Rose displaying unselfish play, trust in teammates

By Christopher Cason
CSNChicago.com Contributor

The maturation of Derrick Rose has been on full display during these first few games of the season.

Winning last seasons MVP, Rose knew that coming into this season, opposing defenses were going to key in on him even more so and while he talked openly about improving his conditioning, adding a post game and fine-tuning his shooting; the one thing thats been evident in the Bulls 8-2 start is a more balanced floor game and his trust in his teammates.

Hes turning into one hell of a point guard, said a delighted Carlos Boozer when asked about his Roses patience on offense this season. Last year, he would take on the double and triple team and he would score most of the time. This year, hes doing a great job of trusting us. Hell see a double team and hell pass the ball to the right person and let them make the play and I like it when hes aggressive but hes playing incredibly smart. His assists are going up every game, hes doing a great job of getting everyone involved and hes kind of maturing right in front of our eyes.

Rose is averaging 20 points and 8 assists. His field goal attempts are their lowest since his rookie season (14.9) and while hes seemed more passive offensively to most, for opposing teams that has only made him even more of a threat.

Hes just picking his spots and that can be even more dangerous because hes less predictable, Detroit Pistons guard and former teammate Ben Gordon told CSNChicago. The thing Ive definitely seen from him is the maturation of his game from the standpoint, where hes picking his spots and trying to be more efficient. He doesnt have to shoot the ball 30 times to get his numbers and when he doesnt do that, hes even more of a handful because you dont really know when hes about to pick his spots.

The Bulls are second in assists per game at 22 per contest.

The ball movement has not only created easier shots for Roses teammates but has also kept them more engaged offensively which has caught opposing defenses, whos game plan is to stop him at all cost, off guard.

As spectacular as his exploits were last season, Rose appeared to tire in the postseason as the burden of carrying the offense fell on him even more so with Boozer playing through a turf toe injury.

He came back this year a better point guard, said Boozer. And I think his scoring ability isnt going anywhere and we know in the fourth quarter, were going to go to him until defenses stop him which I havent seen in my two years here. It is pretty amazing to be so young and learning how we can win games easier. I think its also less wear and tear on his body.

In just his fourth year, the thought of competing for a title is a very real one for Rose and the Bulls and to reach those heights, hes going to have to conserve his best for when its needed most.

Something it seems, he realized after his struggles in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, a series in which he has taken all the blame for.

President Barack Obama, a well-known Bulls fan, welcomed the Dallas Mavericks to the White House on Monday and while he congratulated the team for their accomplishment, he let them know who he expected to be welcoming next year.

This was a remarkable run, a great victory," by Dallas, Obama said. "It's too bad that next year, it'll be the Chicago Bulls here.

When told of the Presidents comments, Rose grinned and replied;

Thats my guy, said Rose of President Obama. If we make it to the Finals, he promised me that hell be there so Im going to hold him to that promise.

As if he needed anymore motivation.

Robin Lopez taking demotion in stride, wants to return to Chicago

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USA TODAY

Robin Lopez taking demotion in stride, wants to return to Chicago

Only an errant punch that missed the face of Serge Ibaka prevented Robin Lopez from suiting up for the Bulls since arriving in the summer of 2016, but his availability streak will come to an abrupt end as the Bulls are sitting and Justin Holiday for the foreseeable future.

Lopez didn’t dress for the Bulls’ game against the 76ers, as he and Holiday were replaced by Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba. Although he was jovial, cracking a few jokes when meeting with the media in pregame, it was clear he was disappointed.

“It was rough for me. I get it. I understand it,” Lopez said. “I always want to be out there playing on the court. That’s what I enjoy, especially playing with these guys. But I’m excited to watch these guys give it a go from the bench.”

With the Bulls being eighth in the lottery standings, Lopez understands the long-term objectives of the organization and said the conversation with the front office went as expected.

“I think pretty much what everybody else has heard,” Lopez said. “I was pulled aside. They told me they wanted to evaluate a few other guys, a few of the young guys. So I get it.”

Starting 138 of 139 games makes his streak ending a bit tougher to stomach, especially considering he didn’t find out about his certain inactivity until right before leaving for the United Center.

“I suppose that’s a little selfish of me, but a little bit,” said Lopez of sadness concerning the streak. “I looked in my closet today and thought I would have a glut of jackets. And I only found two. I didn’t realize this was an issue until about 5 minutes before I had to leave. So I got kind of a ragtag outfit for tonight but hopefully I’ll be better prepared in the games to come.”

Not only will he be armed with better wardrobe but he’ll be bringing a positive disposition to the sidelines that made him loved amongst his teammates.

“All my teammates, whether they’ve been playing with me or sitting on the bench and not dressing, they’ve all supported me,” Lopez said. “I don’t think I’d be too good a person if I didn’t do at least the bare minimum of the same.”

Lopez represented stability and veteran leadership in a tumultuous season, a solid performer when losing was the early norm and upheaval has been constant. It was a reason the Bulls hoped he would garner some interest in the trade market but after hitting for a draft pick in the Nikola Mirotic deal, they had no such luck with Lopez.

Naturally, he was asked about the prospect of being traded over sitting as a healthy scratch.

“That’s hard for me to talk about because I don’t know what situation I could have potentially been in once I had been traded,” Lopez said. “Yeah, it’s … I want to be playing obviously, but we’ve got a great group of guys right here.”

Considering how uncertain things will be for the future, it isn’t a guarantee Lopez won’t be around for the 2018-19 season.

“Yeah. It seems like they still like me. How could they not?,” he joked.

He’s due $14.3 million next season, the last of a four-year deal he signed with the Knicks in 2015. Averaging 12.3 points and shooting 53 percent from the field, he’s productive and valuable on the floor. He’s easy to dismiss with the hoopla surrounding the youth on the roster and the way things clicked when Mirotic stepped on the floor, but seven footers like Lopez aren’t easy to find—even as the game changes.

“I’m a team player. I like to think my play is tied to how the team plays,” Lopez said. “I think we had some really great stretches. The young guys really developed and found a rhythm once we all got healthy. I think we played pretty well.”

With 25 games remaining, he’s unsure of how long his inactivity will last but it’s hard to see him missing the remainder of the season. It would be a bad look for the Bulls and the league to have a healthy player miss two whole months, and Lopez claims no knowledge about that ugly “T” word.

“I’m not familiar with military artillery,” he said.

At least he’s keeping his sense of humor.

Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame

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NBC SPORTS

Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame

Kendall Gill can add another bullet point to his resume.

NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls analyst was announced as a member of the University of Illinois' Athletics Hall of Fame for the Class of 2018. Gill enters in the same class as his coach at Illinois, Lou Henson, and former Bulls broadcaster Johnny "Red" Kerr.

Gill was a part of Illinois' 1989 Final Four team and earned consensus Second-Team All-America honors the following year as a senior when he led the Big Ten in scoring (20 points per game). He is third in program history in steals with 218.

He went on to have a 15-year NBA career, which included a stint with the Bulls.

Last year was the inaugural class for Illinois' hall of fame.