Bulls observations: Kyrie Irving goes supernova as Nets thump Bulls

Bulls observations: Kyrie Irving goes supernova as Nets thump Bulls

The defense cracked and Kyrie Irving dropped a 50-burger in the Bulls' 133-118 loss to the Nets. Some observations:

Kris Dunn goes down

It took just 13 seconds of this one for the injury bug to bite the Bulls again. Off a Joe Harris charge on the Nets’ first possession of the game, Kris Dunn got his knee trapped under a falling Thad Young and appeared to hyperextend it. Dunn was down on the floor in extreme pain for a few real-time minutes before gingerly limping off the floor.

“It sucks man,” Zach LaVine said after the game. “I always say the worst thing in sports is injuries. He plays through a lot. We already know his background, how tough-minded he is. It sucks seeing anybody get injured, but especially a good friend and someone who has been with me throughout the NBA so far."

Chandler Hutchison replaced Dunn with the starters and finished the night with 22 minutes. On the season, the Bulls’ defensive rating is 103.6 with Dunn on the court and 106.6 with him off, the equivalent of the disparity between the second- and seventh-best defensive ratings in the NBA. Tonight, that dropoff felt more severe. 

Kyrie Irving played a pristine basketball game

Being guarded primarily by Hutchison and Ryan Arcidiacono, Irving positively popped off in this one. He didn’t miss a shot in the first half, going 10-for-10 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range, en route to a cool 27 points. He scored five of those in the last five ticks of the second quarter:

Irving missed his first shot of the game a minute-and-a-half into the third. Then, he topped his first half point total in the latter one, scoring 28 on 9-for-13 between the third and fourth quarters. He finished the night with 54 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds, just three points off his career high. His 82.6% shooting from the field (19-for-23) represents the best field goal percentage in a 50-point game since Michael Jordan scored 52 on 24-for-29 (82.8%) in 1998. His 54 points is the highest individual output by a Bulls opponent this season. Ridiculous.

"He made 3s, contested 3s. That got him going,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “Early, I thought we needed to pick him up higher. We didn’t. He got into a groove. And sometimes it’s hard to break a guy out of a groove.”

Former Bulls great Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 20 and seven assists, too, shooting 4-for-7 from 3. Without hardly seeing the floor, Dunn really made his case for MVP of the Bulls tonight. 

Feast or famine: The Bulls’ defense story

Dunn’s absence — combined with the Bulls already being without three of their better defensive players in Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and Daniel Gafford — proved even more costly than Irving and Dinwiddie’s statlines, alone.

As a team, the Nets shot 62.5% from the floor and 48.4% (15-for-31) from 3-point range. That percentage from the field is the highest by any Bulls opponent this year, as are the 50 field goals the Nets canned and 133 points they scored.

Still, the Bulls clawed their way back into the game for a stretch towards the end of the third quarter. They won the third period 39-30 and trailed by just seven entering the fourth, after being down by as many as 21 in the second period. Coincidentally, the Bulls scored 13 points off nine Nets turnovers in the third, and had 19 points off 18 turnovers total entering the fourth.

It illustrates a point made by our fearless leader Kevin Anderson perfectly:

In the fourth, the Nets committed just two coughups and pulled away again. When the turnovers aren't there, the Bulls' defense struggles. This is canon. Though the Bulls rated seventh in defensive rating and first in opponent turnovers per game (18) entering play, they allow the eighth-highest opponent field goal percentage in the league (46.7%). That's a tad ominous, and where there's smoke, there's usually fire.

Zach LaVine keeps plugging

It was a relatively quiet night for LaVine, but he got his. He finished the night with 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting and 8 assists — his 17th game in a row with 20 or more points scored. 

LaVine is the first Bull since Michael Jordan to rip a streak of at least 17 games with 20 or more points scored. He wraps a statistically memorable January with a so-so performance in one of the tougher Bulls’ loss of the season (on the heels of a tougher one in Indiana).

Worse, this one was to a team the Bulls should theoretically be competing with for the eighth seed in the East in the Nets. The Bulls have continued to tout the playoffs as an objective, but with each passing day, that goal feels more and more unattainable.

Next up: The Raptors in Toronto.

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Zach LaVine, Bulls donate meals to 2,000 Chicago healthcare workers

Zach LaVine, Bulls donate meals to 2,000 Chicago healthcare workers

Every day this week, the Bulls will deliver meals to 2,000 healthcare workers at various Advocate Health Care and Rush Medical Center locations around Chicago, the team announced in a statement Tuesday morning.

In the release, Zach LaVine, specifically, was thanked for a generous donation towards the gesture. Beatrix, Coca-Cola, Dunkin', Giordano's, Portillo's and Taffy Apple will also provide resources and assistance delivering meals.

Advocate and Rush are each hospital partners of the Bulls.

In March, LaVine pledged 12,500 meals to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in his hometown Seattle (details linked to below). LaVine traversed back West to be closer to family after the league's suspension.

Add this to the growing list of ways the Bulls organization and its players are stepping up in a time of great need. Find a bulleted summary of other ways the Bulls and their players are aiding their respective communities below:

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Douglas Caridine, brother in law to ex-Bull Randy Brown, loses battle with COVID-19

The Caridine/Brown family

Douglas Caridine, brother in law to ex-Bull Randy Brown, loses battle with COVID-19

Fighting emotion, Randy Brown struggled to find the right words.

But then the former Bulls guard, assistant coach and Chicago native settled on a theme close to Douglas Caridine’s heart.

“I have a big family. I have five brothers, blood brothers. And he was my sixth brother,” Brown said of his brother-in-law. “When you saw my brothers at the United Center, he blended right in. It wasn’t fake. It was real.”

What Brown, his wife, Tamara, and the rest of Caridine’s family is experiencing right now is as real as life gets.

On March 30, Caridine, 38, lost his quick battle with the COVID-19 virus. The graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School and Lewis University, who worked in the financial aid office at DePaul University, leaves behind a wife and two young children. 

“We were expecting him to come home from the hospital. And then it didn’t happen. We’re in total shock for our family,” Brown said. “You sit around and take this stuff for granted. But it can hit home. He’s going to be forever missed.”

Through tears and laughter over a phone conversation, Randy and Tamara Brown talked about Caridine’s high school football career, his avid Bulls fandom and his love for baseball, which included him umpiring youth games. They talked about his beautiful wedding in the Dominican Republic and how he sported a “Mother’s boy” tattoo to represent his love for family.

But above all, they spoke haltingly with emotion, and forcefully with purpose, to honor Caridine’s life with words that they hope can be of public service.

“I still think that people are not taking this as seriously as they should. They don’t understand the severity of it because it hasn’t hit them yet. I want to put out there that it’s not just happening to older people,” Tamara Brown said. “He was a young man. He did have diabetes. We didn’t even originally think about that as a serious underlying condition. 

“For those who think, ‘Oh, that’s not a big deal.’ Diabetes is a big deal. So I just want people to know that this virus is happening to younger people. And people need to listen to what the professionals are saying and do their social distancing and everything else that comes with that.”

Tamara Brown said her younger brother first showed cold-like symptoms of a runny nose and cough on March 23. Since he didn’t have a fever, Tamara Brown said a nurse remotely offered Caridine treatment advice. But three days later, his breathing had worsened to the point that his wife took Caridine to the hospital. 

“When they listened to his chest, they could tell something was wrong. Immediately, he was diagnosed with double pneumonia and tested (for COVID-19),” Tamara Brown said. “They admitted him and sent him to ICU. They said they were going to sedate him because his body was really struggling. They put him on a ventilator.” 

Two days later, according to Tamara, the test results confirmed he had COVID-19. 

“I talked to him on (March 26) when he went in the hospital. He said he was scared. We joked around a little bit. I was like, ‘Dude, I’ll see you in a couple days. You’ll be fine,’” Randy Brown said. “Four days later, this kid was gone.” 

On March 30, Brown waited in the parking lot of the hospital out of respect for the hospital workers and visitors who needed to wear personal protective equipment, as well as to follow social distancing guidelines. Caridine’s direct family donned the protective gear. 

Tamara Brown said her younger brother died shortly after his family, including his beloved mother, arrived. 

“And the toughest part is we aren’t allowed to mourn with family,” Randy Brown said. “We aren’t allowed to grieve. Everyone wanted to come and visit, and we obviously said we can’t because this (virus) is so serious.”

Caridine was born on Christmas. Tamara Brown also talked about the difficulty of not being able to physically be with her and her late brother’s mother at this time, and the sadness of not being able to plan a funeral.

But like Christmas morning, Tamara Brown sounded like her brother’s life was a gift when she pondered a question about how she’d like him to be remembered. 

“He was 100 percent about family,” she said without hesitation.

For more information regarding COVID-19 resources the city of Chicago is providing and recommended best practices, follow this link to chicago.gov.

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