Bulls

Five reasons to watch Bulls-Nets classic tonight

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Five reasons to watch Bulls-Nets classic tonight

Tonight at 7:30, Comcast SportsNet unveils the first of it's Bulls Classics series featuring 15 of the greatest games in franchise history. With that in mind, here and five things to watch from the Bulls' classic 128-113 win over the NewJersey Nets on Feb. 26, 1987, in which Michael Jordan scored athen-franchise record 58 points:

1) Jordan averaged 37.1 points per game in his third season as a pro,so his scoring outburst -- a regular-season record, as he scored 63against the Boston Celtics in the 1986 playoffs -- wasn't exactly ashocker. However, his efficiency (he was 15-for-16 from the floor and26-for-27 from the charity stripe) was remarkable. He didn't evenattempt, let alone make, any three-pointers and it's not as if heneglected other aspects of the game, corralling eight rebounds, swipingthree steals and even blocking a pair of shots. Additionally, he playedonly 37 minutes, below the 40 minutes per game he averaged that season,in which he played all 82 games after playing in only 18 the previousyear due to a foot injury.
2) "A championship" was Jordan's answer when the late, great Johnny"Red" Kerr asked him "what's next?" in a postgame interview, but hewould have to wait four more years to realize that goal. The Bullsfinished the 1986-87 season with a 40-42 record, failing to advance tothe playoffs in Doug Collins' first year as head coach. Futuremainstays like Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant were still collegeplayers at the time, but the addition of the forward duo in the 1987NBA Draft built the foundation of the team for the beginning of itsspree of titles.

3) Bulls power forward Charles Oakley was eventually traded to New Yorkin exchange for Bill Cartwright, a move which Jordan reportedly wasn't fond. Oakley would miss out on Chicago's championship run, asCartwright was an important piece of the franchise's first three-peat,often having to defeat Oakley's rival Knicks. A young Oakley, now anassistant coach with the Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats, already wasdeveloping into one of the league's premier rebounders -- he led the NBAin the category that season and the next -- made clear by his 17 boardsin this outing and would go on to be known as one of the most ruggeddefenders of his era. However, he hadn't yet become the accuratemid-range shooter that he'd be later in his career, as evidenced by his5-for-18 night from the field, although he did hand out seven assistson the evening.

4) Current Bulls executive vice president John Paxson, who scored 16points and distributed five assists that night, started next to Jordanin the backcourt, a role he held through the organization's first twotitles before passing the torch to B.J. Armstrong for Chicago's thirdchampionship season. In fact, Paxson was the only member of the 1986-87Bulls to remain on the team long enough to win a title, although oneplayer who would return to the Bulls later -- replacing Jordan during hisfirst retirement -- was Pete Myers, who was hired by the Golden StateWarriors as an assistant coach this offseason.

5) That season's edition of the Nets was an interesting group. NewJersey was led in scoring that night by blue-collar power forward BuckWilliams with 25 points, while Orlando Woolridge -- who would lead theteam in scoring after coming from the Bulls the previouscampaign -- chipped in with 20 off the bench. As Sam Smith noted onBulls.com, current NBA referee Leon Wood -- who won an Olympic gold medalwith Jordan in 1984 -- was another Nets reserve, scoring 10 points. MikeGminski turned in a strong effort with 14 points and 13 boards, whilerookie Pearl Washington, a college star at Syracuse turned NBA bust,and Albert King, brother of the more accomplished Bernard, were alsostarters.

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Neil Funk and Stacey King will host each game in-studio, sharing their memories from the game.

The full schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.February 26, 1987:New Jersey Nets at Chicago Bulls

Jordan sets a new all-time Bulls scoring record with 58 points; also sets new Bulls record of 2627 from the free throw line, including 19 straight; terrific post-game interview with the late Johnny Red Kerr asking MJ Whats next?the youthful Jordans response: an NBA Championship.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.February 16, 1989:Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls

Jordan scores 27 of his 50 points in 4th quarter, including a 20-footer with one second remaining on the clock.

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.May 7, 1989:Round 1, Game 5 - Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers

The Shot: Jordan hits game-winning shot at buzzer over Craig Ehlo giving the Bulls a huge first round upset against the Cavs.

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.June 12, 1991:NBA Finals, Game 5 - Chicago Bulls at LA Lakers

Bulls celebrate first NBA Championship, Jordan scores 30 points, to go along with ten assists and five steals. Coverage includes post-game locker room coverage of Jordan clutching the Larry OBrien NBA Championship Trophy with his father James Jordan at his side.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.June 3, 1992:NBA Finals, Game. 1 - Portland Trailblazers at Chicago Bulls

Jordans infamous shrug told the story as he was six of ten from three-point range with 35 points in the first half.

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.June 14, 1992:NBA Finals, Game. 6 - Portland Trailblazer at Chicago Bulls

Bulls win back-to-back NBA titles and celebrate their first home court championship at Chicago Stadium.

Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.May 17, 1993:Round 2, Game 4 - Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers

Jordan hits game-ending, series-clinching Shot II" reminiscent of his playoff series-clincher at Cleveland four years earlier.

Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.May 31, 1993:Eastern Conference Finals, Game 4 - New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls

On this Memorial Day telecast, Jordan shines once again with a stellar 54-point performance that tied the series at 2-2.

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 7:30 p.m.June 16, 1993:NBA Finals, Game 4 - Phoenix Suns at Chicago Bulls

The Bulls go up 3-1 in the Finals against Sir Charles & the Suns as Jordan dominates with 55 points.

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m.June 20, 1993:NBA Finals, Game 6 - Chicago Bulls at Phoenix Suns

John Paxson hits three-point championship-winning shot with 3.9 seconds left, giving the Bulls their first three-peat.

Monday, Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.March 28, 1995:Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks

In just his fifth game back from retirement, No. 45 Jordan scores 55 points and sets up Bill Wennington for a game-winning slam dunk at the famed Madison Square Garden.

Monday, Jan. 16, 7:30 p.m.June 16, 1996:NBA Finals, Game 6 - Seattle Supersonics at Chicago Bulls

Bulls cap off record-breaking 72-10 regular season by downing the Sonics at the United Center for their fourth NBA title.

Monday, Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m.June 11, 1997:NBA Finals, Game 5 - Chicago Bulls at Utah Jazz

A flu-stricken, yet determined Michael Jordan scores a game-high 38 points, giving the Bulls a 3-2 Finals series edge.

Monday, Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.June 13, 1997:NBA Finals, Game. 6 - Utah Jazz at Chicago Bulls
Steve Kerr scores a 17-footer with five seconds left in the fourth quarter, followed by Toni Kukoc cementing the deal with a slam dunk with 0.6 seconds left, as the Bulls send the United Center crowd into delirium winning their fifth NBA title.

Monday, Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m.June 14, 1998:NBA Finals, Game 6 - Chicago Bulls at Utah Jazz
Jordan hits historic game-winning shot as the Bulls clinch their sixth NBA Championship. Jordan finishes with 45 points in his final appearance in a Bulls uniform and named NBA Finals MVP for the sixth time.

All times are Central Time. Schedule subject to change.

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.