Bulls

Bulls look to rebound in the Rose Garden

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Bulls look to rebound in the Rose Garden

Monday, Feb. 7, 2011
4:30 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

PORTLANDWith Bulls losses being few and far between this season, sometimes the smallest bump in the roadremember the gloom and doom after the two-game road losing streak last month to lesser lights New Jersey and Philadelphia?causes a great deal of consternation. When it comes to All-Star point guard Derrick Rose being off his game for an eveninghe recorded nine assists in Chicagos 101-90 defeat at the hands of the Warriors in Oakland Saturdayirrational implications that the Bulls are headed for a nose dive and subsequent crash landing become that much more magnified.

Derricks not going to play great in 82 straight games, quipped Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau prior to the teams morning shootaround at the Rose Garden, where they will face the Trail Blazers Monday night. Thats the reality of it. He wasnt at his best, but still, the guy scored 14 points, he had 10 assists.

For an ordinary player, not such a bad gameminus the turnovers, an aspect of Roses game he takes personally. But such an uncharacteristic outing for the superstar muddled the explanation of why it occurred in the first place.

Thats my first time ever seeing three people. Usually, its two, but last time they brought a third person over, explained Rose when asked about Golden States trapping defense, jibing with what he told reporters after Saturdays game. It seemed like I was Carmelo Anthony or something, or Kobe Bryant.

It was weird. I think I found the open person, looking at film and I think that we went over what were going to do about it. We will see how the Trail Blazers play us tonight. If they play us that way, I think weve got an answer for it, he continued. Of course it bothered me that night, but we play another game tonight to redeem ourselves.

I never was able to get into the game. In the beginning, a couple of plays. Never got that feeling.

Thibodeaus view of his stars subpar performance slightly differed.

Really, Golden State did nothing that we havent seen before and when you study what happened, most of his turnovers came in transition and on isolation plays. The double team or the trap, hes seen that all year, said the coach. In the third quarter, when theyre up 12, no ones talking about, What are they doing to Derrick? Most of his turnovers were mishandles in transition when you study the tape.

Regardless, when asked specifically Rose wouldnt let one poor game lead to a downward spiral and how the team in general would rebound, Rose and Thibodeau were on the same page.

Just do the opposite of what I did the last gamethats the biggest thingso turnovers, definitely that and just staying aggressive, said the point guard. I think that our defense is going to have to lead us tonight, if anything, because offensively, I think were all right, but our defense wasnt there that game. It seemed like we were trying to outscore them instead of stopping them and that was hurting us.

Recounted Thibodeau: In the fourth quarter, thats when we struggled. When Derrick went out of the game, we had a hard time. Thats when they got their cushion. And I liked a lot of the shots that we got off the pick-and-rollthats how we got the 12-point lead in the third quarterwhen you study the plays that Derrick and Carlos Boozer made off the pick-and-roll, thats how we got the lead.

The thing that concerned me more than anything else was we went into the game and our defense wasnt what it should have been, so when we had the 12-point lead and we missed some open shotsKeith Bogans had a wide-open three, which is his shot, from the cornerwe had no floor balance, they come down and get a two-on-onefast break, Thibodeau continued. What we do have control over is getting back in transition on the raise of the shot, protecting our basket. We couldnt count on our defense when we needed it the most, which is the fourth quarter; we gave up 28 points.

If we have our normal defense from the start of the game, that should carry us through, which we didnt have. So, Im more concerned about how we approached that game from a defensive standpoint than from an offensive standpoint. We shot 47 percent. Thats the big concern; the 31 points that they got in transition.

As far as Mondays opponent, Portland, both player and coach understand it will be a different ballgame than the frenetic, run-and-gun style the Warriors sucked the Bulls into Saturday.

I think that were used to this game, instead of the Golden State game, where it was up and down, up and down. I think that were used to pushing it sometimes, stopping, slowing it down, going into high-low, space outa game like that, Rose remarked. They almost do the same. Pick-and-roll, sometimes throw it into Aldridge, everybody spaces. Its like an isolationa lot of late isolationbut well see how tonight goes.

Thibodeau added: This team, theyve got a lot and Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan has done a great job with them. Theyve had a number of injuries throughout the season and hes kept them together, and theyre a tough team to play.

Despite Portlands winning record, injuries have historically plagued them and this seasons been no exception. Not only has it been another wasted campaign for former No. 1 pick Greg Oden, but fellow centers Marcus Camby and Joel Pryzbilla (now back in the lineup) have also gone down, not to mention star guard Brandon Roy.

Somehow though, the Blazers have managed to pick up the pieces, with power forward LaMarcus Aldridge emerging as a go-to scorer in Roys absence, with free-agent acquisition Wesley Matthewslike Bulls Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, Matthews is a Utah expatriate; the second-year swingmans contract raised eyebrows in the summer, but he seems like a bargain these daysalso stepping up on the perimeter with veteran floor general Andre Miller, French small forward Nicolas Batum and formerly disgruntled Spanish reserve sharpshooter Rudy Fernandez, once considered a potential Bulls trade target.

Aldridge is having a monster season. Since Roys been out, hes over 25 points a game and he can do it a number of different ways. Hes got a terrific post-up game and hes very good facing the basket, said Thibodeau. His touch away from the basket18 feetis automatic, so you have to close to him like youre closing to a guard and hes very confident down there.

Sometimes I think the thing that gets overlooked with this team is Andre Miller. I think Andre Miller does a great job of running a team and he also has the ability to make you pay for every body-position mistake that you make. When theyre running their catch-and-shoot plays, hes very good at finding the screeners insidetheyre very good at slipping screenshes one of the best lob passers in the game, hes an underrated shooter from 17 feet and hes a terrific post-up player, he continued. Matthews is having a terrific season, Fernandez is really coming on, so they can hurt you with the three, Batum has been very, very good for them.

Added Rose: I know its hard for them right now, where a guy Roy that was scoring what, 20-something points is gone. Aldridge is taking over and hes doing a great job.

Were missing Joakim Noah right now, theyre missing a key player.

So when impatience about Noahs return from injuryslated for after the All-Star breaksets in and despair about a lone off night (after six consecutive wins) against an unorthodox-styled squad rises to the surface, keep in mind that things could be a lot tougher, but still manageable. Ask the Blazers.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's 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.

Portis 2.0? Bulls get mature, hard worker in Daniel Gafford: 'He has a great feel for who he is'

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USA TODAY

Portis 2.0? Bulls get mature, hard worker in Daniel Gafford: 'He has a great feel for who he is'

Had Daniel Gafford kept his name in the 2018 NBA Draft as a freshman, he likely would have walked across the stage and shook the commissioner’s hand as a first-round selection. The Arkansas center instead returned to school for his sophomore season and, despite individual successes, saw his draft stock fall out of the first round.

Draft evaluators would consider his decision to return to school a failed attempt at betting on oneself. But Gafford, who the Bulls made the No. 38 pick on Thursday night, knew he wasn’t ready for the NBA and instead got himself ready for the league on his own terms.

“I decided to come back to get that year under my belt. If I would have came out my freshman year, this process would have (eaten) me up,” Gafford said Monday at the Advocate Center. “And I didn’t want that to happen.”

That maturity and self-awareness was apparent during Gafford’s introductory press conference that also included first-round pick Coby White, VP John Paxson and head coach Jim Boylen. He made no excuses for why he may have slipped to the second round in what was largely considered a weak draft class – “it could have been me, it could have been the draft – but owned that reality that he says will only push him to work harder.

Both Paxson and Boylen saw that ownership in the pre-draft process. Ironically enough, it reminded both of Bobby Portis, another Arkansas big man selected by the Bulls.

“His spirit of who he was in the interview, at the pre-draft camp, to where he came in and worked out for us, it was a Bobby-like spirit,” Boylen said. “Competitive, toughness, compete, take coaching, take correction, learn on the fly. We changed his free throw a little bit just when he came in for the workout. He was able to pick it up. Things like that.”

It’s common – and almost a requirement – for draft picks to describe their competitive nature and willingness to work hard in introductory interviews. But none of it felt rehearsed or fake with Gafford, who admitted he’s far from a finished product but also said he’s willing to improve wherever he can.

Gafford, who said he became a Portis fan before he even committed to Arkansas, won’t provide the same versatility as Crazy Eyes did in his time with the Bulls. Gafford is a true center, a rim-runner whose offense will come from pick-and-rolls and offensive rebounds – “I think everything's a miss,” he said when describing his rebounding prowess – and who will be relied upon to defend the rim on the other end. He admitted that at times he’s guilty of expanding his game too far but that he’s gotten better at realizing his strengths and playing to them. That’s something Boylen said stuck out to him when he first met Gafford in the pre-draft process.

“There’s an art in the world of kind of knowing who you are, and he has a great feel for who he is as a player,” Boylen said. “Again, he adds to our vertical spacing, he adds to our athleticism, our length, our competitiveness, and again, he looks you in the eye when you talk to him, he has a great spirit.”

The expectation is that Gafford will slide in behind Wendell Carter Jr. on the depth chart at center. There’s been no indication that the Bulls plan to bring back Robin Lopez, and Cristiano Felicio won’t be part of any rotation unless the Bulls are playing for Lottery balls in March and April.

His skill set also gives the Bulls an added dimension. He’s built like and plays like Clint Capela, a comparison he agreed with on Monday, and should allow the Bulls to run more in the open court. He’s an unfinished product (despite being 6 months older than Carter) but will get to learn on the fly for the rebuilding Bulls.

A new skill set, a hard worker and a guy who returned to Arkansas for his sophomore season to hone his game. Though they’re different players at different positions, the Bulls would be more than happy if Gafford’s career panned out the same as Portis’.

“Bobby was great for us and a great kid and I think that Daniel’s in that same mold, maybe on a different style of play, different position,” Boylen said. “He adds to our versatile spacing and our length and our athleticism. (The) Arkansas program has been good to us, so we’re gonna keep it going here.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Chris Getz on Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal and more!

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Chris Getz on Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal and more!

Chuck Garfien gets the inside info about some of the top prospects in the White Sox organization from director of player development Chris Getz.

They talk about the wow factor of Luis Robert, what he's working on before being promoted to Triple-A, if he can make the majors in 2019, what kind of major league player he will be and more (3:45)

-Why Nick Madrigal has the "it" factor and why he might have been disappointed with Getz at the start of the season (10:10)

-Why Zack Burdi has struggled this season and a great sign of things to come (16:30)

-Why Kyle Kubat is so highly thought of in the White Sox farm system (18:20)

-How close Dylan Cease is to the major leagues (20:15) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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