Bulls

Deng's talents appreciated in Philadelphia

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Deng's talents appreciated in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA Not that he isnt appreciated in Chicago, but if Luol Deng ever needs a pick-me-up, maybe he should just catch a quick flight to Philadelphia. Doug Collins, the 76ers head coach and father of Chris Collins, an assistant coach at Duke, where Deng played in college threw heaps of praise upon the first-time All-Star following his teams Sunday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center.

We did not see Rip or Luol the last time. Lus having a terrific year. Hes really shooting the ball well, his three-point shooting is up, which really makes it difficult to guard Lu because hes such a slasher and a cutter, said Collins. What Rip has done and a little what Luol has done they were great mid-range shooters and they added some length to their shot to, I think, keep you a little bit more honest.

With Lu, he was such a slasher and a cutter, I think the one year Ive got to go back and look at my notes but when I was broadcasting, the one year he took quite a few threes and then, he came back the next year and really cut down on those threes. His shooting percentage went way up and then, little by little, he started adding the three more into it and when you play with a guy like Derrick Rose, he elevates your offensive rebounding because hes on top of the rim all of the time and your bigs are helping, so thats why Joakim and Booz and Gibson and Asik are on top of the basket rebounding. Then hes going to get you open shots because he penetrates, draws people and hes going to kick that ball, and hes very, very unselfish, continued the detail-oriented coach, not unlike, if more outgoing, than the Bulls Tom Thibodeau. You want to be able to surround him with shooters and thats why when I think Lu was 4-for-4 the other night against Cleveland; it looked they were all from the same spot when I was watching the tape you add that to your game, now you close out, now you can drive and you just expand your game. So, Rip has done that and both Lu.

Dengs former Bulls teammate and current Sixer Andres Nocioni also spoke highly of his fellow small forwards development, as well as the teams continual improvement.

Theyre doing great and theyre doing a lot. I think theyve got more experience, theyre playing really well every night and you know they have Derrick Rose, the MVP, and you know Luol is stepping up his game. Hes playing hard, too, so its really fun to watch their games and I think theyre doing a great job, said Nocioni, who was traded from Chicago to Philadelphia during Roses rookie season. Deng is playing really well right now. I think he deserved to be an All-Star. Hes the kind of guy who works hard every night and hes proud to be a Chicago Bulls player, and I think hes doing a great job.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.