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Rose's 42 can't prevent Bulls 'step backwards'

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Rose's 42 can't prevent Bulls 'step backwards'

Friday, March 18, 2011
Posted 9:24 p.m. Updated 10:57 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS All good things must come to an end, as the Bulls (49-19) learned Friday night, following a 115-108 overtime loss to the Pacers (30-39) at Conseco Fieldhouse, ending their eight-game winning streak.

Despite an improbable comeback, led by Derrick Roses MVP-solidifying and career-high-tying 42-point performance, Chicago lost its first contest to Central Division competition this season.

You usually get what you deserve, a melancholy Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau stated cryptically. This is a step backwards.

Rose, who used a career-high 18-for-21 free-throw outing to get the Bulls back into the game in the fourth after the Pacers turned back repeated Chicago comeback attempts, blamed himself for the loss.

WATCH: Rose takes loss hard

All you can do is learn from it, said the downcast All-Star point guard, who capped a 19-point individual fourth quarter with three clutch foul shots after being fouled on a last gasp, long-range attempt with 1.2 seconds left to tie the game at 102-all, sending it into overtime. Next time, I should do something different to change the game.

Thats the time where Im supposed to take over and I didnt show up, Rose continued, referring to the extra session, in which the Pacers reeled off the first seven points and he eventually fouled out. Thats a team that we could possibly see in the playoffs and I cant wait to see them again.

Chicago still the top team in the Eastern Conference after Boston also lost Friday night made its mark this season with an aggressive brand of basketball with a heavy emphasis on rebounding and defense. Both areas were dominated by the Pacers for much of the contest.

They just came out with a lot more energy than us to start the game. They were aggressive, said Luol Deng, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds on the evening. We played hard, we fought back, but we could have definitely played smarter. Weve just got to move on to the next game.

They outrebounded us. they were just more aggressive, more physical than us. in the second half, we started to be more physical. If we would have done that in the first half, we would have been fine. Just a slow start.

A disappointed Thibodeau concurred: We shouldnt have been surprised. Thats who they are, thats what they do.

Youve got to get in the fray. Youve got to make contact, then youve got to fight and we didnt do that until late," said the coach. When you wait around, now all of a sudden, youre in a hole. So youre fighting your way out of a hole and then you dont have enough energy to finish it off in the end. Thats exactly what happened.

Propelled by the post duo of Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert, Indiana jumped out to an early lead and didnt look back scoring 31 points in the opening period by going inside typically an unwise strategy against the Bulls legion of solid post defenders and continued to go back to the well early and often.

Rose provided much of the Bulls offense in the first quarter and while center Joakim Noah ably assisted him, he admitted that his trademark energetic play and tenacious rebounding werent as impactful as usual.

It just shows you that if you dont come with the right mindset to start the game Im talking about for me, personally Ive got to do a better job, said Noah, who missed the Bulls home win Tuesday over Washington with flu-like symptoms and still appears to be under the weather. Ive been playing with low energy.

I just feel like individually, Ive got to step it up, play with a little bit more juice.

Thibodeau opted to pair veteran Kurt Thomas starting in place of Carlos Boozer, who missed his fifth consecutive game with a sprained left ankle with Taj Gibson, who corralled a game-high 16 rebounds, for much of the contest, including the teams fourth-quarter comeback.

It was definitely physical out there. Thats what Im used to. I like to play that kind of game, it was a lot fun, but we came up a little short, Thomas, whose hard screens and veteran savvy Thomas noticed, when the game officials didnt, that Indiana tried to avoid sending woeful free-throw shooter and veteran counterpart Jeff Foster to the line after he was fouled certainly kept Indiana on its toes, recounted to CSNChicago.com.

Gibson told CSNChicago.com: It was just a tough game. Normally, were the aggressor, hit teams in the mouth and set the tone, but tonight, they set the tone early on us. its kind of hard to slow down a hot team.

As the game went on, we were able to get some crucial stops, Derrick made some tough plays. We just couldnt close it out in overtime.

According to Thibodeau, Gibson was the only member of the Bulls usually-reliable second unit to come up with a consistent performance all evening.

Taj had really good energy off the bench, said the first-year NBA head coach, regarded as a favorite for the league Coach of the Year award. He was the only one off the bench that gave us a spark. We were flat.

The contest was extremely physical throughout and while the Bulls made it a more competitive game in the third quarter, foul trouble and inconsistent officiating, on both ends was an issue, as Rose was forced to hit the pine with four fouls.

I dont get that many fouls in games. I could go a whole game without getting a foul, reasoned Rose afterwards. I was just telling them the referees to make sure they look at the tape with some of those fouls. Thats all I said.

Adding to Chicagos woes was a preponderance of long-distance attempts, a recent trend for the normally conservative, inside-oriented offensive squad, but one Thibodeau found disconcerting, as well as a surprising game-long disadvantage on the glass.

They got 23 second-chance points. Thats probably the difference in the game right there. We came out, we settled, they were attacking us, we were back on their heels, he explained. Theyre a physical team, they killed us on the boards to start the game and then we never adjusted. Weve got to get the ball moving. The balls not moving, were settling for quick threes. Wrong shots.

Thats fools gold.

It seemed as if the visitors wouldnt be able break through in the final period of regulation, but Rose - the consensus favorite for league MVP honors - put on a show worthy of the hype hes been afforded, relentlessly willing his way to the basket and either finishing at the rim, getting to the line, or both.

I was just trying to do anything to get my team the win and at the time, it was me putting pressure on their defense, stated the ever-straightforward 22-year-old. Thats with me attacking.

Chimed in Deng: Derrick was great. It was one of those games where they couldnt stop him. He kept going to the hole, he kept getting to the line and he got us back in the game, and made the huge free throws to get it to overtime.

We always play hard as a team, no matter if were down 20, 30, he continued. Derrick is always going to make great plays. He led us to a comeback today.

Roses aforementioned heroics put the game into overtime, but after the Pacers reeled off the first seven points of the extra session and the All-Star point guard subsequently fouled out, it was clear the Bulls had run out of gas.

The only quarter we played defense was the fourth, said Thibodeau, unimpressed with his stars effort, as he was more focused on the teams overall showing. We should be able to count on our defense and our rebounding every night, and when we dont and we dont defend, were not very good.

Acknowledging that the Pacers could be first-round foes next month made the loss doubly hard for Rose, whose body displayed scratches all over as he conducted interviews in the Conseco Fieldhouse visiting locker room.

Im beat up, but thats basketball. Im fresh. I was out there playing my hardest, giving my all, but physically, I feel fine, he said. When you lose, it hurts the same, unless youre in the championship game thats when I think it hurts worse but all these games, when you get to the playoffs, its going to hurt bad if you lose.

We definitely have their attention, have everybodys attention. We started the game off bad, gave them confidence, sluggish and you cant do that against teams like this, Rose continued. Our biggest thing is playing with an edge and being aggressive, and we didnt do that this game. And its because of me.

Although he took it just as hard personally, Noah put the defeat in perspective.

Theyre fighting for their lives, trying to make the playoffs, said Noah, remembering the Bulls plight the previous two seasons. Losing always sucks because you look back and you feel like theres a lot of things we could have done better.

Weve got to move on from it quickly because were playing for big things.

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.

Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend

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USA TODAY

Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend

LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Butler was absent from the scoresheet of the All-Star Game, unless you count a “DNP-Coaches’ Decision” as activity. Whether due to the All-Star festivities of the weekend or even the grinding minutes he plays under Tom Thibodeau, it wasn’t truly surprising to see him want to have a night off of sorts.

But what was mildly surprising was the reflection he displayed on Saturday at All-Star Media Day in reference to his time with the Chicago Bulls. Usually, Butler’s armor is up because of his feelings surrounding his draft-night departure.

“I learned a lot in Chicago,” Butler said. “Just all through the season and life in general. What to do, what not to do and how to adapt to any situation that you’ve been in. I’ve done that to the best of my abilities. I have a ways to go in that.”

It’s clear he’s still grasping the weight of his words as the best player on a team, or at least, the player whose words impact everything around him.

“A people pleaser? No, I just didn’t say much,” Butler said. “Now I just don’t care. I never talked whenever I was in the league at an early age. It really didn’t matter, nothing I did was gonna make or break us when it comes to losing a game. Now it does and I have a lot to say. Half the time it’s not the right time or right way to say it but it’s okay.”

Whether it was the battles with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg or the internal struggles in the Bulls’ locker room through his ascension from bench warmer to rotation player to impact player to now, a legitimate star, he’s modifying his approach—just a tad.

“I’ve never been the best player on my own team. I was in Tomball,” he joked, in reference to his beginnings in small town Texas. “I wasn’t in junior college. At Marquette I wasn’t. I’m probably not now. In Chicago I wasn’t. You just pick up on it, watch others and learn.”

He admitted to writing in a journal and reading self-help books now that he’s in Minnesota. The novel he’s reading now, “Faith, Forward, Future” is authored by Chad Veach, a Los Angeles pastor and the subtitle of the book says “Moving past your disappointments, delays and destructive thinking.”

Whether he started the book following a slow start with the Timberwolves in November, where his nightly numbers looked like one of a high-level role player, he took some self-evaluation before leading the charge since, playing like an MVP candidate with 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 49 percent shooting since the start of December.

“It’s relatively new. Yeah, basketball is still basketball but it’s hard when somebody else is coming in and roles change overnight,” Butler said. “You gotta see where you fit in with the group. At the end of the day you gotta win. I didn’t feel the way I was playing was our best opportunity to win games.”

Bringing along the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, with Towns being a fellow All-Star for the first time, has been a process.

“I’ve never actually had to be a leader,” Butler said. “I just always done what I was supposed to do, didn’t say much and played hard. Now you know, everybody wants to call someone a leader.”

He disputes taking a softer hand, especially as Towns and Wiggins seem to struggle with sustaining concentration at critical moments. The Timberwolves won’t be able to make those mistakes during the playoffs, but he’s being more selective with his words.

“I’m not soft,” he said. “If I see something wrong, I speak on it. If you don’t like it, oh well. You’ll get over it.”

One thing he could take a bird’s eye view of was the aftermath of LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s comments to the “Uninterrupted”, where they were criticized by cable news hosts for speaking out against President Donald Trump.

No stranger to criticism, Butler would likely have the same approach if he dipped his toes into that arena.

“I like it. You got the right to say what you want and you speak on what you think is right,” Butler said. “Good for them. And they are magnified in a very big way. They embrace it and they’re doing the right thing, I’m all for it.”

And if the day comes where he doesn’t stick to sports, Butler’s directness and lack of diplomacy would certainly cause an interesting reaction.

“I don’t care. Whatever I believe in, I believe in,” Butler said. “Everybody else does it. You see everybody on Twitter and the Internet doing it and saying what they want to say. We just have a different job than the person to our left and right.”

Well, not quite a warm and fuzzy Jimmy Butler.

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

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AP

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”