Bulls

And the first NFL coach to be fired is...

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And the first NFL coach to be fired is...

From Comcast SportsNetEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Andy Reid is out after 14 years coaching the Philadelphia Eagles, three people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press following Sunday's 42-7 season-ending loss to the New York Giants.Reid is scheduled to meet with owner Jeffrey Lurie on Monday to discuss his future and an official announcement will come afterward, according to one person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a final agreement hasn't been reached. That person says there's a chance Reid might remain with the team in some capacity.Reid is due to make 6 million in 2013 in the final year of his contract. He said he wants to coach next year, but it's possible Lurie could persuade him to take a season off and perhaps help out in the front office in an "advisory" role.Eagles spokesman Derek Boyko denied several reports that Lurie has already fired Reid, saying it's "absolutely, 100 percent" untrue.The Eagles (4-12) finished their worst season under Reid by losing 11 of their last 12 games. They missed the playoffs two straight years for the first time under Reid.After the ugly loss to the Giants (9-7), Reid sounded like a man who knew he was going to lose his job."We weren't very good," Reid said. "That's my responsibility and I take complete blame for it."Asked if he wants to return in 2013, Reid said: "I'm all in."Lurie said after the Eagles went 8-8 in 2011 that he considered firing Reid. He gave him another chance, but said before this season that 8-8 would be "unacceptable.""I go in eyes wide open," Reid said of his meeting with Lurie. "Either way, I understand. Whatever he chooses will be the right thing. He always does things for the best interests of the Eagles."Reid won more games (140) than any coach in franchise history. He led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl loss.But he couldn't win the big one and that's how he's measured in a city that hasn't celebrated an NFL title since 1960.The Eagles haven't won a playoff game since 2008 and took significant steps backward the last two years. They entered both seasons with high expectations only to fail miserably."We had quite a run," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said.Players said they expect changes, but continued to support Reid."He's a great man and I love him to death," said quarterback Michael Vick, who could've played his last game with the Eagles. "I wish I could've done more. A lot of players wish they could've done more. Coaches can't play the games."The Eagles talked all week about wanting to win one for Reid. Instead, they suffered another embarrassing loss to cap a dismal season."We came, we stunk it up and we lost. It was terrible. No heart," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said.Like Jenkins, Vick also questioned his teammates' desire before trying to clarify his comment."It's frustrating," Vick said. "It's difficult because, me, I leave it all out on the field and I give everything I got. Sometimes, I wish I could play other positions, but I can't."Vick was 19 of 35 for 197 yards, one TD and one interception in his first game since Nov. 11. He missed the previous six games, sitting out the first five with a concussion and then being inactive last week. Vick only got the start because rookie Nick Foles broke his hand.Vick is due to earn about 16 million next year, but the Eagles can release him without taking a financial hit. He wants to be a starter and is unsure whether he even wants to come back."I don't know. I have to take time to think about everything that's happened," Vick said.This already was a difficult year for Reid. He endured a devastating loss weeks before the season opener when his oldest son, Garrett Reid, died at training camp after a long battle with drug addiction.In October, Reid fired close friend and longtime assistant Juan Castillo, who was in his second season as defensive coordinator after coaching the offensive line for 13 years. He later fired defensive-line coach Jim Washburn.After beating the defending Super Bowl champion Giants on Sept. 30, the Eagles lost eight straight games -- their worst losing streak in 42 years.Before coming to Philadelphia, Reid was an offensive assistant for six seasons under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay and was instrumental in Brett Favre's growth. Reid inherited a team that went 3-13 under Ray Rhodes in 1998 and was a laughingstock in the NFL. He was an unpopular choice among fans in Philadelphia. But Reid won them over quickly by turning the Eagles into a playoff team in just his second season.Reid drafted Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 pick in the 1999 draft and developed him into a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Reid and McNabb guided the Eagles to five straight playoff appearances from 2000-04. They went to the NFC title game four consecutive years, finally winning one in January 2005 over the Atlanta Falcons. But the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots 24-21 in the Super Bowl, and have missed the playoffs in four of the last eight years.Reid's tenure in Philadelphia included several controversial decisions. He brought in star wide receiver Terrell Owens here in 2004, finally giving McNabb a legitimate target. T.O. had an outstanding year, overcame a late-season injury and returned to have an excellent game in the Super Bowl. But Owens feuded with management and McNabb the next season and Reid kicked him off the team in November 2005.In 2009, Reid and Lurie gave Vick a second chance in the NFL after the former star quarterback had spent 18 months in federal prison for dogfighting charges. Vick took over as the starter in 2010, had a remarkable season and led the Eagles to the NFC East title.The decision to switch Castillo from offense to defense may have been Reid's worst mistake. The unusual move was heavily criticized and contributed to the defense's collapse."I'll always put it on the players," Jenkins said. "Coaches can only do so much. Players have to step up and make plays."Reid's stoic personality and bland news conferences annoyed fans and even some members of the media. He refused to call out players and always took the blame after each loss, saying he had to "do a better job" and "put players in better position to perform."While that didn't make him popular outside the locker room, Reid was respected by his players. They supported him to the end."He's a great coach, a great person. I love the guy," safety Kurt Coleman said.

Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen fail to produce in crunch time for Bulls

Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen fail to produce in crunch time for Bulls

Coby White’s second straight 3-pointer splashed through the net — a three that, combined with a Ryan Arcidiacono long-ball, capped a 9-0 run to give the Bulls a one-point lead over the Bucks with 6 minutes, 23 seconds to play.

For the second time in five days, the Bulls had an opportunity to knock off the Bucks, an Eastern Conference champion contender.

Then, reality hit. Or the starters returned. At this point, that’s one and the same.

Here’s all you need to know about where the Bulls’ rebuild stands as 'Year Three' fell to a 4-10 start following the Bucks’ 115-101 victory: Coach Jim Boylen admitted he considered riding a bench unit down the stretch over one that featured Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.

“They have a guy that they can go to that can get them a bucket, which is what good teams have,” Boylen said, referring to the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo. “I’ve been on those teams. We’re figuring out who that guy is and we’re learning to play that way. We’re not there yet.”

Boylen then supported his beleaguered core players, because that’s what he’s paid to do. But the sobering reality of the Bulls’ current fortunes didn’t just play out in LaVine’s stat line of 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting, or Markkanen’s 9 points on 2-for-12.

It played out when Boylen indeed returned to LaVine and Markkanen with 5:04 remaining, and the Bucks leading 103-99. From that point, the Bulls didn’t score another field goal.

Markkanen sank two free throws but missed a driving layup and 13-foot jumper. LaVine committed a turnover, missed a layup and a 3-pointer.

Game, set and match.

“They got the MVP over there. He did his thing. And we didn’t,” LaVine said. “It’s going to be tough when your leading players, me and Lauri, don’t perform at our level. You can understand that. You’re missing a lot of points and a lot of plays. We understand we have to pick it up.”

What’s that they say? Recognition is the first step towards recovery. The Bulls have to hope so, especially after Markkanen admitted his slump is affecting him mentally.

“It’s frustrating knowing I’ve never had this kind of stretch of not even not hitting 3s but missing layups and dunks,” he said. “I have to keep my head up knowing that you work too hard for this not to turn around. Keep working and I know it’s going to turn around.

“I noticed myself kind of thinking too much at the half. I tried to switch it up and make the plays for the team. That’s how you get out of your own head. I have to stay aggressive. Create contact and then finish every shot. Not getting out of it too early or anything like that. I’ve done my film study. Put the work in and I know it’s going to turn around.”

At one point, Markkanen actually missed two dunk attempts on the same possession. Following the second, he rolled his eyes toward the United Center roof as if to say, 'What’s next?'

Markkanen is shooting 36.2 percent overall and 26.8 percent from 3-point range. He missed all four three-pointers he attempted versus the Bucks.

“Just try to get an easy bucket and lay it in. But having two 7-footers there, I know it’s going to be blocked so I tried to go up quick and end up missing it,” Markkanen said of the dunk sequence. “It was frustrating. I know I can play better. It’s not going to be like this forever. I don’t know what else to say.”

Antetokounmpo made 13 field goals, equaling the total of five Bulls starters. How do you say 'ouch' in Greek?

“What I’m going to do is I’m going to support those two guys. I’m going to coach them like I always have. I’m going to show it to them on film and we’re going to work on it in practice. We’re going to get them to understand that we believe in them, we value them and that we need to do better,” Boylen said. “It’s all part of this process. We’re slugging uphill right now. We gotta keep slugging. That’s all I can say.”

Boylen said he returned to LaVine and Markkanen because he still believes in them. He has to say that and he has to believe that. The rebuild is structured for them to shine.

It’s not currently happening.

“I’m still developing two young guys,” Boylen said. “Zach missed a year-and-a-half. Lauri was hurt last year. He has basically played two years. I’m going to keep developing them to come in and learn how to win games. I believe in both of them. I believe they’re important to what we’re doing.”

Raising LaVine’s absence to an ACL injury and subsequent rehab is a curious approach from Boylen given that LaVine has been fully healthy and rehabbed for quite some time. But again, he has been placed in a position where he has to protect their play and lack of production in big moments.

The Bulls are a long way away from respectability at this point.

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Three observations: Bulls come up short against Bucks — again

Three observations: Bulls come up short against Bucks — again

For the second time in less than a week, the Bulls played the Bucks close, but came up just short — this time falling 115-101 at the United Center. Three observations from a soul-crushing loss:

Daniel Gafford: Free man

If I dumped all the expletives I have written in my notebook about Daniel Gafford from this game, you’d never read another article under this byline.

So, while I catch my breath, here are the hits:

 

 

 

Gafford ended the game a -4 in 20 minutes, but it’s hard to overstate the impact he had on a particularly electric Bulls bench in this one. He was every bit the gumptious, brick-bodied big that Jim Boylen billed him as, and so much more. Every second without the ball in his hands on offense, his feet were moving — setting screens and leveraging rebounding position. In the air, every shot, pass or lob within five feet of him seemed to find his hands, and then — rather violently — the bottom of the net.

At one point, en route to his team-leading 16 first-half points, a fan behind me exclaimed: “Him and Giannis are going at it!” In reference to… Daniel Gafford. What a night.

Gafford ended his stellar breakout performance with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and approximately 2.716 million hearts stolen, on 10-of-12 shooting.

The three-guard lineup provides a spark

At the very beginning of the season, Boylen’s utilizing of a three-guard lineup (Kris Dunn-Coby White-Ryan Arcidiacono) was widely panned. Tonight, that group — with contributions from Thaddeus Young and a combination of Wendell Carter and Daniel Gafford at the center spot — proved their mettle. 

In the first half, that lineup catalyzed a 20-8 run that pulled the Bulls from down nine with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter to up two with 8:05 to go in the second. In the fourth quarter, a torrid stretch by Arcidiacono and White vaulted the Bulls from down 98-90 to up 99-98 in a matter of 66 seconds, sending the UC in a frenzy not seen in quite a while.

The Bucks pulled away from that point on, but this lineup showed something tonight — so much so that Boylen closed with White and Arcidiacono both on the floor along with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. (Stunningly absent was Tomas Satoransky, who logged only 18 minutes tonight after coming out of the gate aggressive, offensively.)

Arcidiacono was on every loose ball in sight. White was a blur in transition and coming off screens and dribble handoffs. Combined, they shot 7-of-11 from long distance. Maybe Boylen is on to something.

Bulls melt down the stretch

The Bucks finished the game on a 17-2 run after that aforementioned White-Arcidiacono blitz. For most of the game, the Bulls were able to hang around despite being out-shot from three and on the wrong end of a 35-14 free throw disparity, but their energy waned late in the game. Despite miraculously out-rebounding the Bucks 50-48, out-scoring them in the paint 50-46 and competing defensively throughout, the Bulls couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch (they failed to score a field goal in the final six minutes), and it ultimately cost them.

The blame is shared in this one. Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine combined to shoot 6-of-28 from the floor (only 0-of-4 in the fourth) and were largely outplayed by the bench unit. 

In a performance reminiscent of last Thursday’s in Milwaukee, the Bulls appeared to everything necessary to win on Monday. But they didn’t. Now, with a record of 4-10, the heat is on.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com

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