Bulls

Rose still bothered by toe, weekend status unknown

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Rose still bothered by toe, weekend status unknown

All Tom Thibodeau wants for his birthday is a win.

If that happens, it will have to come without the benefit of having Derrick Rose, as the point guard will sit out Tuesdays game against the Suns at the United Center, the second consecutive contest hes been sidelined.

Hes not playing tonight, Thibodeau said before the game. It was a collective decision. We gathered the information, we looked at where we are in the schedule and we all decided its in the best interest of everyone to sit this one out.

Where he is with the injury, all that played into it.

Roses injury suffered last Tuesday in Minnesota, has been alternately described as a sprained left big toe and turf toe.

I was looking on some clarity on that myself. You can say its a sprain or turf toe. I guess theres some similarities between the two, but its sore and thats the bottom line, so we just want to make sure we take care of that. So, we just felt its best to have him sit this one out, explained Thibodeau. This ones more on the top of the toe, so thats what makes a difference. Hes got some swelling, so weve got to get that out.

Fortunately for Rose, after an off day Sunday following Saturdays home win over the Raptors, then missing Mondays loss in Memphis, hell have plenty of rest, as the Bulls dont play again until Friday at Cleveland.

Hes usually a pretty quick healer, so hell get his treatment, then we have a couple days off, so well see where he is after that, said Thibodeau, who will start C.J. Watson Watson himself just returned to the lineup Monday after spraining his left elbow in the New Years Day home opener in place of Rose. He usually responds pretty well to treatment.

You base your decisions on the information that you have at that particular time. He felt that he was feeling better. Weve played a number of games in a short amount of time, so we just want to be smart. A lot of guys are hurting right now. We dont want to take any chances, continued Thibodeau, who indicated that he had no regrets about playing Rose in back-to-back wins over Boston and Toronto. Hes fine. Hes going to do whats in the best interest of the team and thats where it is. He certainly has a lot of input in it, but we all have to weigh in. We talked to our doctors and to Bulls team trainer Fred Tedeschi.

I think that once hes healthy and thats something we talked to the medical staff first is what can he handle. Hes been through different injuries. Once the swellings out of there and the pain goes down, hell be fine.

While the Bulls will be missing the reigning league MVP, the other half of their starting backcourt will be back in the lineup Tuesday, as veteran shooting guard Rip Hamilton will start after missing eight consecutive games with a nagging groin injury.

Were going to see how he feels, Thibodeau said, prior to the decision. If he goes through his warmup and he feels OK, well give it a shot.

Thibodeau was pleased with the play of Watson in his return Monday, as the backup point guard logged 28 minutes, scored 17 points, sparked an aborted Bulls comeback and perhaps most importantly, played aggressively, with no hesitation

He said he felt pretty good. theres some soreness there, but thats normal and again, we were watching him during the game and the way he was driving the ball, and he went after some loose balls and stuff, so he got hit quite a bit. He said he felt pretty good today, so that was encouraging, said the coach about Watson. He did really well and its a tribute to his professionalism. He did a lot of conditioning when he was out and he was able to handle those minutes.

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.