Bulls

3 observations from the Bulls' convincing win over the Knicks

3 observations from the Bulls' convincing win over the Knicks

The Bulls record is now 4-7 with their 120-102 win Tuesday night at the United Center. Here are three observations:

The lid was finally lifted off the basket from 3-point range and 'The Coby White Game' had A LOT to do with it

The Bulls finally had a great 3-point shooting game and their 2019 No. 7 overall draft pick had a lot to do with it in perhaps his most impressive game as a pro.

Coby White helped spark a 22-0 Bulls run that effectively put the game away. Below is White's 4th quarter shot chart.

White came into Tuesday's game shooting 21.2% from the 3-point line and started to right the ship in a big way. He shot 0-2 from the field in the first half and then exploded in the second half, scoring 23 of his 27 points in the 4th quarter alone. He went 7-for-11 on 3-pointers against the Knicks, converting on both spot-ups and his signature step-back 3s.

Boylen said postgame "Coby was terrific and we kept feeding him.

"It bothers him when he doesn't play as well as he thinks he can play...I'm just really happy for him. I'm happy that Roy [Williams] was here tonight to see it."

Overall he Bulls went 14-for-33 (42.4%) from 3-point range, backing up the idea that the Bulls offense will be quite formidable once their shooters start to trend closer to their career averages.

Wendell Carter Jr. continues to show incredibly impressive leadership (for a 20-year old) on an off the court

Coming into Tuesday's game, Wendell Carter Jr. talked at length about Bobb Portis' big game against the Bulls earlier in the season at Madison Square Garden, in which he had 28 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes. Carter stated, "No words need to be said, we're not letting that happen...I'm not gonna have it." This is yet another example of Carter talking like a leader but what really makes him such a strong candidate to be a leader on this Bulls squad for a long time to come is the way he backs up his words. 

In the first half Portis—while hardly his team's biggest problem—scored 2 points on 1/4 from the field and was a -7. Portis finished the game with 7 points on 3-for-9 shooting. Postgame Carter was all smiles when asked about the Bulls holding Portis down in the rematch.

"We still boys but both of us competitive...after the game we back to being homies."

On offense, Carter continued to show off an improved offensive game.

In the first quarter specifically, the Bulls threw Carter (and Markkanen) the ball in the post early and often and the results were encouraging. Carter tallied 8 points in the opening frame and was a big reason the Bulls jumped out an early lead. 

He scored 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting and showed off some solid passing from the post despite not racking up any assists. Most of the basketball world has caught on to the fact that Carter is a great defender but eyes are slowly being opened to the young big man's burgeoning offensive game. 

Carter talked to Boylen recently about having so few plays called for him, and though he is still not a focal point of the offense, things seem to be trending in a positive direction. Carter developing into a two-way force would be a welcome development amid a season with many more losses (so far) than expected. 

Kris Dunn may have finally turned a corner 

Kris Dunn has had an awesome season so far while settling into his off the bench role. He was third in the league in steals per game coming into Tuesday night's game and he racked up another 3 steals in the Bulls win. While the defense looks awesome, the more shocking development was his offensive contributions.

Dunn scored 13 points in 19 minutes, going 5-for-6 from the field, 2-for-2 from the free throw line and hitting 1 of his 2 attempts from 3-point range. 

It isn't often that we are going to see Dunn only miss one shot in a game, but as long as he continues to show aggressiveness driving to the basket, he will continue to serve an important role on a team that—albeit against a bad Knicks team—looked like they were finally starting to come together. 

Boylen was very happy with Dunn's performance, stating "he just wants to win, he wants to play winning basketball...he is locked in, he cares, he's always cared and he's playing winning basketball, I'm really happy for him."

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Bulls interview Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas for front office role

Bulls interview Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas for front office role

The Bulls have interviewed Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas for head of basketball operations, according to NBC Sports Chicago Bulls Insider K.C. Johnson.

Karnisovas is in his seventh season with the Nuggets and third as general manager. He made his start as an international scout and is well-respected for his global connections, chops as a talent evaluator and management experience.

In his time in Denver, he is credited in some part for the Nuggets snaring star center Nikola Jokic with the No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft, as well as recent lottery hits, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Along with Tim Connelly, he helped pioneer the construction of one of the most touted international scouting departments in the league.

RELATED: Breaking down the four front office candidates the Bulls plan to interview 

Johnson added that the Bulls "hope to have process finalized sooner than later." Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik interviewed for the position on Monday.

Also on Wednesday, news broke that the Bulls staged recent interviews with other candidates. NBC Sports Chicago reported that the Bulls interviewed former Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, ESPN.com Adrian Wojnarowski's reported that the Bulls interviewed former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox and The Athletic reported that the Bulls interviewed former Raptors, 76ers and Suns executive Bryan Colangelo.

Sources said Karnisovas made a strong impression during his interview and there are initial plans for the two sides to talk again. 

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Ranking the top five dunks in Bulls franchise history, once and for all

Ranking the top five dunks in Bulls franchise history, once and for all

From Jordan to Pippen to Rose to LaVine, the Bulls have employed a number of transcendent athletes in their franchise's history.

Even in tumultuous times, the unmatched bunnies of the names above (and many more) have translated into a number of exhilirating highlights, especially in the dunk category.

But only five slams can make NBC Sports Chicago's Definitive Top Five Bulls Dunks of All Time© ranking. See below, but don't even think about @-ing me:

5. Michael Jordan finger wags Dikembe Mutombo

How does one not crack a smile thinking of this gem? Needed for context: This dunk came months after Mutombo claimed, on camera at the 1997 All-Star game, that Jordan “hadn’t gotten” him with a poster-dunk yet in his career — a show of hubris that was met with utter bemusement by Jordan. 

Fast forward to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals that year, and it was revenge time. Off a deft two-man action with Luc Longley, Jordan streaked across the baseline, corralled a bounce pass, and in one sweeping motion rose and stuffed the ball through the basket — directly on Mutombo’s forehead. 

And as Jordan backpedaled down the floor, he was sure to give Mutombo a taste of his own medicine in the form of a finger wag. Even Phil Jackson cracked a smile. That game, a 107-92 Bulls win, decided that series, and the Bulls went on to clinch their fifth title of the decade weeks later.

4. Taj Gibson bodies Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference Finals

I maintain it is impossible to watch this dunk without emitting audible and involuntary noises. The ferocity. The spontaneity. I don’t have a word for this, but the way Gibson bounces off Wade mid-air, but instead of sending him sprawling to the floor, the impact actually boosts him higher into the air. That’s when you know you really bodied someone.

What’s more, this slam came in a Game 1 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals that the Bulls seized over the widely villainized Miami Heat, 103-82. Of course, the Heatles went on to rip four straight wins en route to a five-game series victory, but in the moment, this felt like a coming-of-age for an ever-underestimated Bulls team on a meteoric rise. 

This Gibson dunk serves as a snapshot of that sentiment, even all these years laters. Memories. 

3. Derrick Rose goes upstairs on Goran Dragic

Everything about this dunk is iconic. From Rose’s trademark explosiveness off two feet, to the mid-air cockback into a tomahawk, to the exuberance of Bulls color commentator Stacey King:

“Oh, stop it! Stop it! Did not do him like that! What are you doing, Dragic? Did you not get the memo? Derrick Rose can go upstairs!

Then, on the replay: “I want to go HIGHER! Oh my goodness.”

Soul-snatching stuff from Rose, and a legendary call by King. Plus, coming off a Rookie of the Year campaign and strong playoff showing against the Celtics in 2009, it added another notch to Rose’s rapidly rising star. All in all, one of the more poignant memories from that era.

2. Jordan pummels Patrick Ewing

To maximally appreciate this dunk requires a frame-by-frame breakdown of the possession that led to it. Bear with me.

It begins with a full-court Knicks press, which the Bulls busted by way of a looping Horace Grant pass to John Paxson near half-court. Paxson reeled the ball in, landed, and, faced with two defenders in his grill, quickly flared a pass out to Jordan on the left wing. Normally, an offensive team is rewarded for busting an opponent’s press with some form of a numbers advantage on the attacking end, but not Jordan. On the catch, he was immediately met by Mark Jackson and a flailing-armed Kiki Vandewhege, but as Jackson lurched forward to attempt a steal, Jordan skirted past him with a decisive left-handed drive. For an instant, he appeared on a clear path to the basket.

But just when he had built up a head of steam, the stout Charles Oakley slid in to block his path. Jordan quickly took one dribble backwards, then cut back to the rim on a dime, leaving Oakley and Jackson (trailing the play) completely off balance. One dribble later, Jordan was at the rim and elevated for a gravity-defying slam that rendered the 7-foot Patrick Ewing a traffic cone.

For those keeping track at home: En route to this dunk, Jordan effectively waxed three Knicks defenders (all of solid reputation!) before even reaching Ewing, adding to the impossibility of a dunk that deserves a place on this list in a vacuum. Is this the time to mention this sequence took place in the decisive Game 3 of a first round playoff series between the two in 1991, the year Jordan and the Bulls would eventually be crowned NBA champions for the first time?

1. Scottie Pippen ends Ewing and Spike Lee

Poor Patrick. We won’t go pixel-by-pixel on this one, but Pippen’s feat of superheroic athleticism and elasticity here is unmatched in Bulls dunk history. On this transition slam, Pippen took off from damn near outside the painted area, bumped bodies with Ewing in the air, and still finished from well-above the rim, nearly landing on top of him on the way down.

That landing is where things got interesting. Pippen, graceful as ever,  transitioned seamlessly from air-dancer to trash-talker by stepping over Ewing (and sharing a few words with him) after each of them hit the floor — Ewing on his behind, Pippen on his feet. 

Ewing got a shove in from underneath, and Spike Lee, even sitting on the Chicago Stadium floor, attempted to come to Ewing’s defense. But Pippen brushed them both off. Even though he earned a technical foul for the step-over and taunt, it’s clear who came out of this interchange the winner. Is there a play more emblematic of the Bulls-Knicks rivalry?

Years later, on ESPN’s The Jump, Pippen said that it was his “most disrespectful dunk” ever, adding with a laugh that he and Ewing (as of May 2019) were not on speaking terms because of it. 

If that’s not No. 1 worthy, I don’t know what is.

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.