Bulls

Sam: Bulls React to Game 2 Loss to Cavaliers

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Sam: Bulls React to Game 2 Loss to Cavaliers

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
10:15 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

After the game, a dejected Derrick Rose put on a brave face when talking about LeBron James backbreaking 40-point performance.

Hes a player where hes going to hit shots like that, the best player in the NBA right now on the best team in the NBA right now, Rose told CSNChicago.com in the visiting locker room at The Q after the Bulls loss. Well live with him making shots like that, as long as hes not getting all those other people involved like he usually does.

Weve still got to come with the same effort, even more energy next time. Weve got to rebound the ball more. If we come up with almost the same game and just hope theyre exhausted, we should be fine.

Luol Deng had a solid night -- regardless of James 40 points, Deng made him work for everything he got -- finishing with 20 points, six boards and five assists, after a disappointing showing in Game 1. Deng, who was the second-ranked player in the high school class of 2003 (James was No. 1), has been going head-to-head with the Cleveland star for years, making him more familiar with his game than most, especially as they play the same position.

You cant do anything. You can take away some things, but you cant take away everything, Deng said about defending James. You just hope he doesnt shoot like that. But hes been getting better since high school and when youre talented like that and you have all the confidence in the world, its hard to stop and thats where hes at right now.

He had a good shooting night, but weve got to go home. Ive seen guys do it, but at the same time, I think we did a good job of hanging in there. We had a chance tonight. We didnt have a chance the other night, so were happy about that.

Deng, like Rose, is also optimistic about Chicagos chances in the series, despite their 2-0 deficit.

Were not concerned. Were the eighth seed. Were going to battle, were going to try to win and still try to make a series out of it. The pressure is always on them and weve just to take care of home court and the pressure will build up.

Despite the loss and his villain status among the Cleveland faithful, Joakim Noah showed no remorse for his overblown comments about the city -- which were displayed on the Quicken Loans Arena JumboTron as he shot free throws, inciting fans to boo even more -- saying after the game, I was booed a lot. My whole life Ive been booed. College, I was getting booed a lot. Boston, they dont like me over there and they dont like me over here either. Its okay. I have my friends. I dont care.

Noah went on to say when asked if he regretted his comments, Not at all. You like it? You think Clevelands cool? I mean, Ive never heard anybody say, Im going to Cleveland on vacation? Whats so great about Cleveland?

As far as the game itself, Noah put the loss in perspective during his postgame press conference.

Were playing against the best team and I think this is great for our team, he said. The competition doesnt get any higher than this. Weve just got to keep fighting and understand that this is great for us -- in the big picture. When you go into the summer, you can say, We were playing against the best team and we know what weve got to do to get better, and thats all it is right now. Its all about getting better and trying to win ballgames.

Bulls reserve guard Flip Murray came off the bench to score 14 points, including 10 in the first half, and provided Chicago with a player other than Rose that could create his own shot -- especially in light of the series-long offensive struggles of starting shooting guard Kirk Hinrich. However, his strong outing was offset by the play of Cavaliers backup swingman Jamario Moon, who hit four of his five three-point attempts, including a perfect 3-for-3 in the fourth quarter, as well as two key blocked shots, complementing James with some huge baskets down the stretch.

Moon, an athletic streak-shooting journeyman who played in a various leagues across the world before breaking into the NBA as an older rookie with Toronto, said After that second one, it felt like I was throwing it into the ocean. Its about being confident and being ready to shoot the basketball. My teammates kept believing in me and I kept believing in my shot and I was knocking them down. Coming from where I came from and the road that it took for me to get here, it feels great.

Follow me on Twitter @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.