Bulls come close again, but can’t put away the Jazz in the end

Bulls come close again, but can’t put away the Jazz in the end

Before the Jazz became the latest winning team to run away and hide in the second half against the Bulls, before they stormed back from an 11-point deficit to post a 102-98 victory at the United Center, coach Quin Snyder offered some high praise for Jim Boylen’s defense.

“I think, from a tactical standpoint, it really fits their personnel and that's obviously what's gone into it,” Snyder said. “I'm assuming that, obviously, knowing Jim and the way he sees the game from a coaching standpoint. Molding style of play to fit your personnel is paramount and obviously they're successful doing it.

“It's a little bit of a contrast to the way some teams are playing right now, so I think that requires a real focus on our part to play against a defense that is more aggressive, that's more shifty, that's more focused on the ball. And they do it well.

“Their activity, that's where they get deflections and get their hands on balls. You have to make quick decisions and to a large degree you have to try to know what you're doing before you get the ball and really read whether you're passing, shooting, driving. Because if the ball stops, they get a chance to recover and they get their hands on passes. So that's where they get a lot of turnovers and deflections. You've gotta be quick-minded.”

The Bulls, who aggressively trap most pick-and-rolls, lead the NBA in forcing turnovers and scoring off those opponent miscues. And they only helped those departments Thursday by scoring 21 points off 17 Jazz turnovers.

But just like in Monday’s home loss to the Bucks, the Bulls’ defense got carved up in the second half by a smart, disciplined team that made the extra pass and picked it apart, possession by possession. The Jazz shot 58.8 percent in the second half.

And the Bulls are now 1-13 against teams with winning records.

“We’re scrambling and getting after it. We’re trusting in the system that Coach has put in and we’re executing to the best of our abilities. It gives us the opportunity to get some steals and get the ball back and get more possessions,” Thad Young said of the defense. “It is different. Sometimes we feel we’re in scramble mode the whole game. But one of the key aspects of the game is pick-and-roll coverage. We do a really good job with that. Teams are going away from it and going to different plays. So now we have to figure out how to guard different things.

“When you’re playing teams like Toronto and the Clippers and the Heat, good shooting teams, it’s definitely high-risk, high-reward. But we have a base set and we continue to believe in the system.”

Boylen pointed to how the Bulls’ top-five defense held the Jazz to six points under their season average and lamented not being able to score enough. Indeed, the Bulls’ offense has ranked in the bottom five all season and is certainly more the culprit to the team’s woes than the defense.

Still, there’s a feeling of inevitability that sets in when the Bulls are facing a good team. After taking that 11-point lead early in the third, the Bulls surrendered a 24-4 run.

“We had some looks at the end I thought we could make,” Boylen said. “Give them credit. I thought they made really tough, defended shots. I thought there was a moment where we missed a couple plays at the rim, hung our head and didn’t run back. They’re not a high transition team. So when they get transition buckets, it’s like found money for them.

“When we’re not scoring, we still gotta guard and run back and compete at a high level.”

To their credit, the Bulls rallied from their own 11-point deficit to tie the game on Zach LaVine's 3-pointer with 1 minute, 43 seconds left. 

The Bulls then got the big stop they needed when Donovan Mitchell missed a 3-pointer with just over 30 seconds left. Trailing 100-98, Zach LaVine attacked two-time Defensive Player of Year Rudy Gobert right at the rim.

LaVine, who afterward said the left ankle he rolled was sore, missed.

“Tried to draw some contact,” LaVine said. “I thought I had him out of position. I hit him with the body. Did the best I could. Didn’t want to settle for a 3. Go in there and tie it up. It just didn’t happen. I didn’t convert a lot of those. I thought I was getting a lot of contact. But you gotta make plays.

“My number is called, I step up to bat. I’m not scared to take or miss shots. I feel I’ve closed out a lot of games this year. And there are some games I haven’t. It’s a make-or-miss league. There are some times where if you make the shot, nobody says anything. If you miss it, you look like a bad guy. You have to juggle that. I’m trying to do everything I can to win games. I just didn’t make enough plays and we didn’t as a group either.”

Boylen remains undeterred.

“We are laying the foundation and the building blocks,” Boylen said. “We’re in a new system with a new team with a new coach. I wanted to be a defensive team. We are. We need to improve our rebounding, our defending without fouling and offensively. Those are the things I’m going to work on.

“I like this group of men. They work and they care. They try to represent the city and play hard. I think they play really hard. And we’re going to keep working at it.”

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Posterized presents 'Chicagoland's All-Time Starting Five' plus Q&A with Jason Goff


Posterized presents 'Chicagoland's All-Time Starting Five' plus Q&A with Jason Goff

Over the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago, the "Posterized: The Chicago Experience by Jim Beam" event celebrated the rich history of Chicagoland high school hoops by honoring an "all-time starting five," featuring five Chicagoland preps legends, voted on by Chicago sports fans. Fans had from February 6 to February 10 at 9 pm to vote for their top five from a list of names that included Candace Parker, Derrick Rose, and the late Benji Wilson. The final results were revealed on February 14th, at the Chicago Sports Museum & Harry Caray's 7th inning stretch restaurant.

At Posterized the event the Chicagoland all-time starting five was revealed: Derrick Rose (Simeon), Isiah Thomas (St. Joseph), Dwyane Wade (Richards High School), Anthony Davis (Perspectives Charter), and Antoine Walker (Mount Carmel). I was able to speak with the host of the event about the experience and the final list, NBC Sports Chicago's Jason Goff. Below is the Q+A with Goff on the event: 


Q: How was your experience at 'Posterized: The Chicago Experience' and what ultimately led to your interest in hosting the event? 

It was a terrific experience. Joy Glover and her team put together a really cool experience for locals and people who aren't from Chicago. All things party, Chicago basketball appreciation; and All-Star weekend rolled into one event. When Joy reached out through a mutual friend, I didn't hesitate. The idea was cool and the execution during the busiest time I've seen in quite a while was excellent. 

Q: The All-Time starting 5 selected by the fans was: Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Anthony Davis, and Antione Walker. Ultimately, do you think the fans got it right? Was there anyone you were shocked didn't make the final cut? 

There are so many names that were on the list that deserve recognition. We're all prisoners of whatever generation of basketball we grew up in. Quinn Buckner, Mark Aguirre, George Mikan, etc. Just to name a few. Also, the women's game could've received a little more gratitude by our voters as well. Candace Parker, Cappie Pondexter; and many others have had just as much success inside and outside of this city as anyone. 

Q: Who in your opinion had the best high school career out of the Chicagoland all-time starting five? (Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Anthony Davis, and Antione Walker)

Of the ones named? Probably Derrick Rose [at Simeon]. But nobody has done more winning than Quinn Buckner (a member of undefeated Thornridge High School team in 1972, one of the best HS teams ever.)

Q: When it's all said and done, who do you think will have the best NBA career of the Chicagoland all-time starting five? (Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Anthony Davis, and Antione Walker)

Unless Anthony Davis wins a few titles, it'd have to be Dwyane Wade with Isiah Thomas as a close second.

Between the five players that make up Posterized's all-time starting five, there are six NBA Championships, an NBA MVP, and 17 All-NBA appearances. Below are some of the accomplishments of this illustrious group:

Isiah Thomas:

High school (St. Joseph-Westchester): State finalist (1979), McDonald's All-American (1979),  first-team Parade All-American, USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (1980)

Indiana (NCAA): NCAA Champion (1981), NCAA Tourney MVP (1981), 2-time All-Big Ten, Consensus 1st team All-American (1981)

NBA (Detroit Pistons): Five-time All-NBA, Two-time NBA Champion (1988-89, 1989-90), 1989-90 Finals MVP, Hall of Famer

Derrick Rose:

Simeon (High school): State finalist (1979), McDonald's All-American (1979),  first-team Parade All-American, USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (1980)

Memphis (NCAA): NCAA Champion (1981), NCAA Tourney MVP (1981), 2-time All-Big Ten, Consensus 1st team All-American (1981)

NBA (Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons): 2008-09 Rookie of the Year, one-time All-NBA, 2010-11 MVP

Dwyane Wade:

Richards (High school): Led Ricards to the Class AA sectional finals in his senior year

Marquette (NCAA): First-team All-American (2003), Conference USA Player of the Year (2003), No. 3 jersey retired by Marquette

NBA (Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers): Eight-time All-NBA, Three-time NBA Champion (2005-06, 2011-12, 2012-13), Finals MVP (2005-06)

Antoine Walker:

Mount Carmel (High school): Chicago Tribune 1994 Boys All-State Basketball Team, First-team Parade All-American (1994)

Kentucky (NCAA):  SEC Tournament MVP (1995), First-team All-SEC (1996), NCAA Champion (1996)

NBA (Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves): 15,647 career points, 1996-97 All-Rookie, three-time All-Star, 2005-06 NBA Champion

Anthony Davis:

Perspectives (High school): First-team Parade All-American (2011), Jordan Brand Classic co-MVP (2011)

Kentucky (NCAA): 2011-12 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, 2012 SEC Player of the Year, Naismith Award, Wooden Award, NCAA Champion (2011-12)

NBA (New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers):  2012-13 All-Rookie, three-time blocks leader, three-time All-Defensive team, three-time All-NBA

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Roommates, brothers, opponents: Coby White, Cam Johnson reunite and show out

Roommates, brothers, opponents: Coby White, Cam Johnson reunite and show out

Cameron Johnson had just been selected by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. At the time, the move was a surprise — Johnson was projected to fall into the middle to late first round, despite averaging 16.9 points and shooting 45.7% from 3 in his last year at North Carolina.

So, elation was a natural response for all close to Johnson. And nobody displayed that elation more authentically — nor more publicly — than Johnson’s teammate, roommate and ‘little brother’ Coby White (who had been picked by the Bulls just four slots earlier). You remember the clip:

That familial bond was grown over many nights bunking together on the road during White’s one and only year at UNC. It all began on a week-long trip to the Bahamas in advance of last season.

“Coming in, I'm the type of dude where if I don't really know you, then I don't talk a lot,” White said. “And then Cam was like ‘Why you so anti(-social)?’ and then it kinda started from there. He became a guy I could always go to if I ever needed something, on or off the court.”

“You know, seniors pair with freshmen, make sure they're everybody they need to be on time,” Johnson, a fifth-year in 2018-19, said. “But he was, like, a mature, easy, no-drama freshman. His composure was at a very high level, his maturity was at a very high level.”

White scoffed at that, saying he got a similar rep (of being ‘mature’) in his first weeks with the Bulls. “I was like nah just trust me,” he said. “And now I'm like that little brother that's annoying them.”

Still, Johnson and White became fast friends over their overlapping year in Chapel Hill. Though it’s been tough to keep in touch amid the rigors of their first NBA seasons, they each agreed competing against each other was a fun change of pace.

“It was great seeing him, I hadn't seen him in a long time, so it was great seeing him,” White said. “We talk here and there, but because we're so busy — it's one of those things, like, you know no matter what we're gonna have each other's backs, we always gonna be there for each other when we need each other.”

“I love that kid, man. I tell you, most of the time when we talk it’s just saying what’s up and just reminding each other that we love each other,” Johnson said. “That’s my guy and I went over and gave him a big hug before I went on the court today.”


What ensued come gametime was special for all. In the contest — a 112-104 Suns victory — White poured in a career-high 33 points and canned seven 3-pointers, shooting 11-for-22 from the field. Johnson notched 11 points and three 3-pointers, and made all of them count.

“It was fun, but I hate him so much,” White said of Johnson, who hit two of his three 3-pointers in the game’s fourth quarter. “I just know whenever he shoots if he gets any type of open look it's going in. So every time he shot it in my head, I'm like mad cause I'm like, he's the one you just can't leave him open. The ball just kept finding him in open space.”

But then, with a smile: “But obviously it's all love. After the game, I talked to him, he told me he was proud of me and whatnot. He's like a big brother to me, so it means a lot.”

There’s just something about these Tar Heels. With Roy Williams at the United Center on Nov. 12, White set a Bulls record for 3-pointers in a quarter with seven in the fourth against the Knicks. Tonight, lined up across from Johnson, he scored the second-most points in Bulls franchise history by a rookie off the bench.

He, Johnson and Bulls fans everywhere, will be counting down the days until the team visits Phoenix on April 5.

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