Bulls

High School Lites Preview

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High School Lites Preview

Comcast SportsNet is your go-to place for prep basketball highlights in Chicagoland. Fridays High School Lites feast will feature conference battles on the north shore and profile some up-and-coming teams in the western suburbs.

Who will gain momentum on the eve of the holiday tournament season? Here is a snapshot of each game Comcast SportsNet will be covering this week on High School Lites. All rankings reflect the CSN Top 20:

THURSDAY GAMES

Girls: Bolingbrook (4-0) @ Lockport (2-6), 6:30 p.m.

Ariel Massengale is at Tennessee now, but forward Morgan Tuck and a talented group of Raiders remain. Tuck led all scorers with 18 points as Bolingbrook defeated Sandburg 56-25 Tuesday night. It's a challenging week for Taylor Quain and the Porters. They are facing two of the toughest teams in Chicagoland: Homewood-Flossmoor (69-45 loss on Tuesday) and now Bolingbrook.

Girls: Metea Valley (4-6) @ Waubonsie Valley (7-1), 7:15 p.m.

Waubonsie Valley's team might be a little more focused -- and a little more careful -- come Thursday night. The Warriors committed 21 turnovers in a 65-47 loss to Bartlett Tuesday. Becky Wilford paced the WV attack with 13 points. Metea Valley, who is starting to show a little more consistency after an 0-3 start, gets good contributions from Bria Walker, Anna Petersen and Megan Geldernick.

FRIDAY GAMES

Farragut (4-3) @ Westinghouse (6-2), 4:00 p.m.

If Westinghouse is to have any chance of winning Friday, they have to contain Farraguts Rashaun Stimage. The senior center was unstoppable Wednesday against Manley, racking up 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in the Admirals 93-37 victory. Westinghouse also comes in on a high note, after defeating Raby 72-54 Wednesday night. They also have a showdown with Whitney Young on Monday.

No. 9 New Trier (7-1) @ Waukegan (3-4) 7:30 p.m.

The Trevians have more than just Dartmouth-bound forward Connor Boehm. Guards Austin Angel, Reid Berman and David Braigel have New Trier off and running this season. Its always a battle when these Central Suburban South foes meet and this year figures to be no different. The Bulldogs have a talented guard in Akeem Springs and an up-and-coming forward in sophomore Jerome Davis. Theyre looking to bounce back from a Wednesday upset at the hands of Grayslake Central.

No. 16 West Aurora (5-1) @ Glenbard North (3-2), 7:30 p.m.
The top spot in the DuPage Valley conference doesn't have a runaway favorite this year. West Aurora and Glenbard North figure to be among the teams in the upper tier of the division. This game figures to be a nice showcase of forwards, Juwan Starks for West and Josh Fleming for North. The Blackhawks are riding high off a 71-59 win over Naperville Central, while the Panthers turned a few heads with a 59-55 victory over rival Glenbard East last Friday in Lombard.

St. Charles East (5-2) @ No. 17 Elgin (7-1), 7:30 p.m.

Could we have another Fab Four lurking? Arie Williams, Dennis Moore, Cortez Scott, Devin Gilliam and Kory Brown are the foursome that have kept the Maroons rolling all season. Each one of them scored in double-figures Tuesday night as Elgin beat Burlington Central 73-41. St. Charles East should cause a few more problems. They looked impressive in their last contest, a 56-43 decision over Geneva. They have Purdue recruit Kendall Stephens and an improving supporting cast.
No. 3 Proviso East (7-0) @ Hinsdale South (3-4), 7:30 p.m.

The Hornets got a much-needed win Tuesday night against Argo, winning 64-51. Their attack revolves around guard Phil George and center Brock Benson (both scored in double-figures in the win over the Argonauts). Can they hang with the Proviso East? St. Louis-bound Keith Carter, Sterling Brown and the rest of the third-ranked team, CSNs Muscle Milk Team of the Week, figure to be one of the states elite.
Willowbrook (1-5) @ No. 6 Downers Grove South (6-1), 7:30 p.m.

If the No. 6 Mustangs are to keep pace with the Proviso Easts and the Mortons in the West Suburban gold conference, they need to take care of league games like this on their home court. Senior guard Jerron Wilbut is coming off a 20-point performance last Friday in a win against Morton in Cicero. The Warriors will try to get back on the winning track; Fridays game represents the first in a three-game-in-five-night stretch.
Lake Forest (3-4) @ No. 4 Warren (6-1), 7:30 p.m.

If the fourth-ranked Blue Devils are to send retiring head coach Chuck Ramsey out in style, this figures to be the perfect year to do so. Warren is stacked this year, with seniors Nathan Boothe (C) and forward Darius Paul (F) at the controls. Warren is coming off a 61-45 win over Mundelein. Lake Forest has an interesting story in freshman Evan Boudreaux, who is playing on the varsity level for the Scouts. He scored 13 points in a losing effort Saturday against Zion-Benton.

Every Friday night at 10:30, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland basketball courts. We'll also have in-depth feature stories and take a look back down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment. This week, be sure to check out CSN's Muscle Milk Team of the Week, the Proviso East Pirates. Well tell you why two of the famed Three Amigos are helping lead the boys from Maywood to a possible trip to Peoria in March (and no, were not talking about Chevy Chase, Martin Short or Steve Martin).

High School Lites streams live every Friday on CSNChicago.com. Its also where you can find: Drive 2011, the story of the Simeon Wolverines. This weeks journey takes us to Wednesdays tilt against Carver High School.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well by leaving comments at the bottom of this story. Also, please note that this weeks show will appear after our BlackhawksDucks coverage and SportsNet Central.

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

In the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Kendall Gill recap the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, look at the continued growth of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, and discuss if Bobby Portis is part of the Bulls’ long term future.

They also check in on LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, discuss whether or not the Golden State Warriors can make another title run and the latest on the status of San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard. The guys also discuss how Oklahoma guard Trae Young could look in a Bulls uniform if he’s available for them in the draft.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.