Bulls shut out on Christmas Day for a second straight year


Bulls shut out on Christmas Day for a second straight year

The Bulls have put together an impressive core of young players over the last 15 months, but it won't be enough to get them on national TV on Christmas Day.

The NBA announced its slate of five Christmas Day games and for the second consecutive season, the Bulls will be off.

Last year the Bulls were off on Christmas, breaking a seven-year stretch in which they played in front of a national audience.

And while it would have been fun to see the Bulls playing while we unwrapped our gifts, it's hard to argue with the five-game schedule the NBA put together:

New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Boston Celtcs vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Utah Jazz vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

And since the Bulls won't be playing on Christmas and you'll be forced to spend time with your family, here's a look at the history of how the Bulls have fared on Christmas Day.

2016: San Antonio Spurs 119, Chicago Bulls 100

LaMarcus Aldridge sets the tone by dropping 20 points on 9 of 9 shooting in the opening quarter, as he and Kawhi Leonard combine for 58 points. The closest the Bulls get in the final period is nine points, with Tony Parker leading a late charge to close the door on any attempted comeback. Dwyane Wade finishes with a team-high 24 points in the loss.

2015: Chicago Bulls 105, Oklahoma City Thunder 96

Squaring off against a Thunder team that had won nine of their last 10, the Bulls put together one of their best performances of the season. Jimmy Butler scores 23 points, Pau Gasol adds 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and the Bulls outscore the Thunder, 32-16, in the decisive third quarter.

2014: Chicago Bulls 113, Los Angeles Lakers 93

Pau Gasol faces his old team for the first time since signing with the Bulls, scoring 23 points and adding 13 rebounds in the blowout victory. Kobe Bryant sat out the game with various injuries, but Carlos Boozer plays in his return to Chicago and is booed, as expected. He scores 14 points.

2013: Chicago Bulls 95, Brooklyn Nets 78

In a rematch of the previous year's first round playoff series, runs of 12-0 and 21-5 help the Bulls work their way back toward .500 (11-16) after losing 13 of their previous 17 games.

2012: Houston Rockets 120, Chicago Bulls 97

Omer Asik scores 20 points and grabs 18 rebounds in his first game against the Bulls since signing with the Rockets that previous offseason. Newcomer Jeremy Lin scores 20 points, while Nate Robinson leads the Bulls with 27 points.

2011: Chicago Bulls 88, Los Angeles Lakers 87

With the lockout over, the Bulls top the Lakers on Opening Day behind a clutch shot late from reigning MVP Derrick Rose, who scores 22 points in the victory. Luol Deng limits Kobe Bryant to 28 points on 23 shots and eight turnovers.

2010: New York Knicks 103, Chicago Bulls 95

Playing on Christmas for the first time in more than a decade, the Bulls score 12 points in the fourth quarter and allow Amare Stoudemire to go for 20 points and 10 rebounds. Free agent acquisition Carlos Boozer adds 26 points and 19 rebounds but commits seven turnovers.

1997: Chicago Bulls 90, Miami Heat 80

In what would be his final Christmas Day game with the Bulls, Michael Jordan scores 24 points and grabs 11 rebounds in the win. Alonzo Mourning is limited to 23 minutes with foul trouble.

1996: Chicago Bulls 95, Detroit Pistons 83

Scottie Pippen goes for 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in what was, at the time, the best combined record for a Christmas Day matchup in NBA history; the Bulls were 24-3 and the Pistons were 20-5.

1994: Chicago Bulls 107, New York Knicks 104 (OT)

Scottie Pippen scores 36 points - including all seven of the Bulls' points in overtime - and grabs 16 rebounds, while Toni Kukoc comes off the bench to score 25 points in the victory. John Starks is ejected.

1993: Chicago Bulls 95, Orlando Magic 93

Toni Kukoc nails the game-winner with two seconds left, extending the Bulls' win streak to nine games. Scottie Pippen scores 28 points and grabs four steals, playing all 48 minutes.

1992: Chicago Bulls 89, New York Knicks 77

Michael Jordan dazzles the Chicago Stadium crowd with 42 points, easily outplaying Patrick Ewing, who scored 14 points on 6-for-18 shooting.

1991: Chicago Bulls 121, Boston Celtics 99

Six players score in double figures for the Bulls, who force the Celtics into 17 turnovers in the victory. Larry Bird, in what would be his final Christmas Day game, is limited to eight points and eight rebounds.

1990: Chicago Bulls 98, Detroit Pistons 86

A changing of the guard takes place, as Michael Jordan scores 37 points on the defending champs and gets revenge on a Pistons team that beat them by 21 in Detroit the previous week.

1986: New York Knicks 86, Chicago Bulls 85

Patrick Ewing's buzzer-beater caps off a massive 28-point, 17-rebound outing. Michael Jordan scores 30 points but shoots just 10 of 28 from the field as the Bulls fall to .500.

1976: Chicago Bulls 96, Kansas City Kings 91

Wilbur Holland scores 22 points to lead the Bulls to victory. 27-year-old Artis Gilmore, in his first NBA season, chips in eight points.

1972: Phoenix Suns 115, Chicago Bulls 108

The Bulls led for much of the contest, but Dick Van Arsdale's 32 points were too much for Bob Love (29 points) and Chet Walker (20 points) to handle down the stretch.

1971: Chicago Bulls 109, Portland Trail Blazers 88

Led by Bob Love's 26 points the Bulls, on their way to a franchise-record 57 wins, blow past Sidney Wicks (24 points) and the Trailblazers.

1970: Baltimore Bullets 128, Chicago Bulls 112

Bob Love pours in 42 points in a losing effort, as four Bullets tally 20 or more, led by future Hall-of-Famer Earl Monroe's 25 points.

1968: Cincinnati Royals 103, Chicago Bulls 98

Cincinnati gets 31 points from Connie Dierking and 23 from a guy named Oscar Robertson, outmatching five Bulls scorers in double figures, led by Jim Washington's 18 points. That year Robertson would lead the NBA in assists for the seventh and final time in his Hall of Fame career.

1966: New York Knicks 133, Chicago Bulls 132

The Bulls play on Christmas in their inaugural season, with Bob Boozer's 40 points leading the charge. But Walt Bellamy (29 points) and Cazzie Russell (27 points) lead a late comeback as the Knicks outscore the Bulls by nine in the final quarter.

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again


Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

Lauri Markkanen has been making headlines this offseason, mostly for bulking up considerably, and making appearances around Chicago at Nike camps and Jabari Parker’s camp, but as the season nears, his on-the-court exploits are starting to come up as well. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated put Lauri Markkanen on their list of five breakout candidates for the 2018-19 season

SI writer Michael Shapiro had this to say about Markkanen:

Markkanen has all the tools to be a future All-Star, and it looks as though he has the mindset, too. He seemed to take his matchup with Porzingis personally in early January, demanding the ball down the stretch en route to a career-high 33 points in a road victory. The Bulls enter 2018-19 on the outside of the East playoff picture, but Chicago is now home to the NBA’s newest unicorn.

High praise indeed for Markkanen, and well-deserved praise considering that he finished with a usage rate lower with the Bulls than his college stint at Arizona, yet still was able to have an impact on the Bulls. Shapiro mentioned Markkanen’s burgeoning off-the-dribble game as the skill that most stood out, and speaks to the Finnish big man’s All-Star potential. 

While the 21-year-old’s threes lived up to the hype, it was his prowess of the bounce that made the biggest impression. Markkanen showed a deft handle and array of canny fakes in the post, adding a mean streak to boot. The Finnisher lived up to his nickname, unafraid of contact and eager to fight for position in the post. The stereotype of the soft European big man doesn’t apply here.

The numbers back this up. 

Among the Bulls top 10 players in drives per game last season, Markkanen finished second in field percentage (on drives) at 46.1 percent. If that numbers rises, or more likely, Markkanen drives to the basket more, his scoring total will increase. And when it came to finishing around the paint in general, he shot  67.6 percent on shots from zero-to-three feet, making him the third best in that range out of the Bulls top nine rotation players last season. Yet among the same group of players, Markkanen ranked sixth in shot attempts from zero-to-three feet. With the presence of Wendell Carter Jr., and another year of internal growth from Bobby Portis- bigs that can stretch the floor -Markkanen should be the recipient of more plays putting him in a position to score around the basket.

On a roster that will surely give big minutes to Parker, Kris Dunn, Carter, Chandler Hutchison and a working-his-way-back to form Zach LaVine, Markkanen may be surest 3-point shooter on the floor. This means defenses will key in on his outside shot. If players are routinely closing out hard on Markkanen- as they should -this will open up more driving opportunities for the nimble seven-footer. 

The third or fourth season is usually when young players take the leap from good to great, but Markkanen will be playing with the most talented group of teammates he has ever been surrounded with. How he handles playing with this group will go a long way towards establishing what kind of player he will be in the future, specifically if he is an All-Star caliber talent. On the 2018-19 Bulls, someone will have to hover around a 20 percent usage rate, making them a clear third-option, whoever that player is, his last name should not be Markkanen.