Bulls

Sam: Adding a player could disrupt Bulls chemistry

Sam: Adding a player could disrupt Bulls chemistry

Monday, Feb. 28, 2011
10:47 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

With rumors swirling about the Bulls potentially acquiring sharpshooter Rasual Butleras previously reported, CSNChicago.com confirmed late Sunday that the swingman received a buyout from the Los Angeles ClippersDerrick Rose discussed how an additional player could affect the teams chemistry.

That would be something that when they get hereif they get here, if someone comes herewell just have to see if it affects the teams chemistry, but I really dont know how it would be right now. I think that we have a good team right now. I think our chemistry is fine, the guys that we have are great and Im fine with the people we have right now, said Rose.

The All-Star point guard strongly believes the current squad is a championship-caliber team. Definitely. Theres no point in us even being here practicing if we didnt think we could win a championship. I think that we have a good team. I think that we have good guys on the team that are winners, that are basketball players, that just want to play ball and win. As for Thibodeau, he was non-committal about the speculation.

I havent heard anything about it, said the coach. If they Bulls general manager Gar Forman and vice president John Paxson get close on something, theyll let me know, but like Ive said all along, I love the team we have; I love the guys we have.

If the Bulls were to acquire Butler, the 6-foot-7 swingman would provide them with an additional shooter to spread the defense against teams like the Celtics and Heat, who may be more apt to pack the lane to defend against Roses penetration and Chicagos size. At the same time, Butler would join an already-crowded legion of wing players, as Thibodeau has shown hes comfortable with Keith Bogans as a starter, meaning that since Ronnie Brewers defense is another Thibs priority, Kyle Korver would be the most likely candidate to see a reduction in playing time.

Carlos Boozer spoke about the teams last losslast week in Torontoand how the Bulls have adjusted since then. We learned our lesson in Toronto after the break. We had that five-day breakAll-Star breakcame back and lost that game in Toronto, a team that on paper, we should have beat, but we took them lightly and got kicked in the butt.. Opined Joakim Noah: You know what? Torontosometimes people talk about recordsbut they have a lot of talent. It was my first game back, the first game after the All-Star break. We definitely had a letdown, so you have to learn from our mistakes and its all about experiences and getting better.

In the locker room, Rose muttered to himself about missing free throws, shots in general and being out of rhythm. When queried about it later he responded, Ive just got to get back. Im still putting up my regular numbers, but just getting back, playing in rhythm. But were winning. I could care less about that. He cited the All-Star break as the primary cause. Going four days without really shooting or playing, I think that could throw off anybodys rhythm.

Brian Scalabrine commented on the fan support the Bulls receivednot uncommon at road games as of lateas well as the crowd cheering for him personally. We were in the building tonight, right? A lot of Chicago fans. A lot of MVP chants. It was nice, Scalabrine quipped to CSNChicago.com. The Scalabrine chants were strong tonight. I mean, I cant say anything about that. Thanks for coming out, thanks for supporting the Washington Wizards.

Rose, the recipient of M-V-P chants throughout the game, also discussed the now-familiar aspect of away games. Its crazy, but Im loving it right now, said Rose. Coming into every arena and everybodys cheering it. When asked who got more support between he and Scalabrine, however, the MVP frontrunner answered, Scal. He got some M-V-P cheers, too. Scal gets that everywhere. Hes a good teammate and Im fortunate to have him on my team.

Bulls shooting guard Keith Bogans, a Washington, D.C. area native, has played in several cities during his professional career, but being on a contender makes a ticket to one of his games even more of a prized commodity these days. Its always good to come home and win the way we did today. It gives me bragging rights when I come home in the summer, Bogans told CSNChicago.com. Everybody wants to come to the games, so I just keep it to a minimumimmediate family and a few friendsall that 30 and 40 tickets, Im not doing that anymore.

Gibson limped off the court on two separate occasions, but Thibodeau wasnt concerned. Taj is fine. I think he tweaked his ankle a little bit, but he said he was fine. He went back in.

Rose sympathized with fellow former No. 1 overall draft pick John Wall, also a John Calipari protg. Its definitely hard, just playing through it, said Rose of the Wizards rookie.

His numbers are good, definitely for a rookie and I know that its tough, going from winning all those games, then coming here, not being mentioned with some of the best teams in the NBA. Its tough, man, but hes playing well. Continued Rose: Roses rookie season was a learning experience. This year it is, too, but my rookie year, everything was new. You had to come in, learn how your teammates are, learn an NBA system. It takes a long time to do that and it was hell my rookie year. It was hell, but when you come in, youve got to have a little confidence yourself because guys will take advantage of you if you come in and you dont know what youre doing or it seems like you dont know what youre doing.

Its tough in this league, Ill say, with people that dont have confidence, especially at my position because thats whats going on right now. Its like a point guard league and every night, youve got to be able to come out here and compete against the best Im more comfortable. I think that guys like Keith and everybody, Kurt, made me more comfortable at my position, teaching me certain things on pick-and-rolls, things on plays to put us in a position to win and I have a lot of confidence right now, especially when I play and it has a lot to do with them and the coaching staffI can only imagine what hes going through. Our record wasnt anything like his. We barely got in the playoffs.

Rose also discussed the Bulls current status and postseason possibilities. You have to look at what Miami and Boston are doing. Were in the same little group, where everybodys comparing us and it wouldnt be bad to get that No. 1 spot, said Rose. Teams like the 76ers, Indiana, Charlotte, all those teams are playing good right now, trying to get that spot into the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoffsthe Bucks are right thereknowing that you can play one of those teams, you think about it a little bit.

Saunders holds both the Bulls and Rose in high regard, placing the team in rare air atop the Eastern Conference and Rose in a category of his own. I have them in the top three. I think its them and Miami and Boston, and Orlando, as far as right there, too. I think the big thing is how those guys blend together, now that they have them all and whether over the long haul, their perimeter shooting is going to be enough when they go against Boston and teams that really pack it in, said the Wizards coach. Rose is probably the most improved player in the league, how hes played. I think hes given more to their team than anybody in the league. If I had a vote for MVP, thats the guy that Id pick.

Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at: @CSNBullsInsider.

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 nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

Los Angeles—Lauri Markkanen called himself “The Finnisher” when asked what the movie of his life would be called.

Apparently, that moniker didn’t apply to the All-Star Skills challenge as he took down the best big men but couldn’t close against a former Bull, Spencer Dinwiddie, in the final.

The contest highlights players’ ability to dribble around cones shaped like NBA logos, throwing a chest pass into a net while having to complete a layup and then 3-pointer before their opponent does.

Markkanen took down Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before facing off with Dinwiddie. He held a pose after hitting a triple to beat the uber confident Embiid, in what will likely be used as a memorable gif following the weekend.

His confidence doesn’t come across as blatantly as Embiid’s, but that snapshot shows he’s no humble star in the making. He didn’t even practice for the contest, by his own admission.

“I heard some of the guys did,” Markkanen said. “I didn’t do much, just before the competition, I did a little warm-up.”

Missing on the first pass attempt into the circular net in the final, it gave Dinwiddie the advantage he wouldn’t relinquish, hitting on his second 3-point attempt before Markkanen could make it downcourt to contest.

“It’s a lot harder than I’ve seen,” Markkanen said. “I thought it was gonna be super easy but it was kind of tough. Maybe I need to hold my follow through (on the pass).”

“I saw he missed (the first shot) and I started going. I thought he would’ve missed it too. I think I would’ve gotten it on the third shot.”

Being one of the multi-dimensional big men in today’s game who can be adept on the perimeter as well as the interior, it almost seems like the contest was made for Markkanen. Although he doesn’t do much handling in Fred Hoiberg’s offense, it’s clearly a skill he will develop as time goes on.

The last two winners of the skills challenge were Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, and Markkanen was well aware of the recent trend.

“The last two years the bigs have won,” Markkanen said. “I’m kind of pissed that I couldn’t keep the streak going after (those two). I think there’s a lot of guys who can do that now, it’s why they changed the format to bigs versus smalls.”

For Dinwiddie, who was discarded by the Bulls last season after a promising start in the preseason so they could pick up R.J. Hunter, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity with Brooklyn.

“I think for Chicago it was just another series of unfortunate events,” he said. “They were in win-now mode. I was an unproven guard on a non-guaranteed contract and they felt Michael Carter-Williams gave them a better shot to win.”

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

This is part of a four-part series looking back at the historic career of Michael Jordan and the legacy he left on the game of basketball. It all leads up to Saturday when we unveil his top 5 moments on his 55th birthday. Here are 55-4544-23, and 22-6.

5. Jordan wins fourth title and finishes greatest individual season ever, June 16, 1996

It’s hard to comprehend just how much Jordan accomplished during the 1995-96 season. We’ll try:He won his fourth championship, was named NBA Finals MVP for a record fourth time, won All-Star Game MVP, won a record 72 games, was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, was the league’s leading scorer and became the Bulls’ all-time leader in games played. So when he dropped a casual 22 points in Game 6, it marked the end of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Oh, and Space Jam came out a few months later.
 
4. Jordan hits six triples, scores 35 points in first half against Blazers, June 3, 1992

During the 1991-92 regular season, Jordan never made more than three 3-pointers in a single game. In fact, the most 3-pointers he had in any two-game stretch that year was four. So when he began burying triple after triple in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, even Jordan couldn’t believe it, giving a shrug toward the NBC announcers as if to say, “I don’t know, either.” Jordan finished the first half with six triples and scored an NBA-record 35 points. The Bulls cruised in the second half, so Jordan finished with only 39, but his shrug remains one of the most iconic NBA Finals moments in history.
 
3. Jordan battles the flu, scores 38 in Game 5 on his way to fifth title, June 11, 1997

The Flu Game. Jordan was battling a nasty illness in the lead-up to a pivotal Game 5 in Utah, and there were concerns about whether he would even suit up. Hours before tip Jordan got out of bed and made his way to the arena, looking to halt Utah’s momentum after it had taken Games 3 and 4 to tie the series. The Jazz came out red-hot while Jordan looked sluggish, but he responded with 17 points in the second quarter alone to give the Bulls a halftime lead. Jordan then keyed a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to erase a Jazz lead, and he hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give the Bulls a three-point lead. The Bulls hung on, and Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms walking off the floor. His final line? 38 points, 13 of 27 shooting, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Two days later the Bulls won the title in front of a sellout Chicago crowd.

2. Jordan scores 63 points against Celtics in playoff loss, April 20, 1986

Jordan had just turned 23 years old when he took to the Boston Garden floor to face Larry Bird in his prime and the Celtics. These Celtics had gone 40-1 at home, led the NBA in field goal percentage defense, started FOUR future Hall of Famers and had a fifth come off the bench. They would ultimately go down as one of the all-time greatest teams, and Jordan made them look absolutely silly. He played 50 minutes in the double-overtime thriller, shooting 22 of 41 from the field and making 19 of 21 free throws, including the last two with no time on the clock and the Bulls trailing by two at the end of regulation. He scored 54 in regulation, added five in the first overtime and four in the second. He also led the Bulls with six assists. It still stands as the NBA record for most points in any playoff game. Twenty-three years old. Twenty. Three.

1. Jordan scores 45 in final game with the Bulls, securing sixth championship, June 14, 1998

Jordan’s final game with the Bulls was iconic. Like so many of these moments, die hards know exactly where they were. The 45 points were majestic, and while he only had one rebound and one assist he affected just about every possession on both ends. But what we’ll remember most is the final 37 seconds. Jordan drove to the basket for layup that cut Utah’s lead to one, then stripped Karl Malone from behind on the next trip down. That gave the ball back to the Bulls with 20 seconds left. Jordan let the clock tick down to around 9 seconds before making his move from the left wing, driving right on Bryon Russell, (maybe pushing off) and pulling up for a jumper at the foul line. The shot was good with 5.2 seconds remaining, and John Stockton’s ensuing 3-pointer was off the mark. It gave Jordan and the Bulls their sixth NBA title, and marked the perfect ending to his Bulls career: getting it done on both ends, in the clutch, and finishing with a victory. Because it encapsulated so much of his 14-year career in Chicago, it’s our top Michael Jordan moment.