Bulls

Bulls shut out on Christmas Day for a second straight year

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AP

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.

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

This is the first entry in our "8 for 38" series, where will be looking at eight different under-the-radar NBA prospects that the Bulls could snag with their No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Charles Bassey/ 6’11’’/ 275 lbs./ Freshman/ Western Kentucky  

Bassey is a a well-regarded five-star recruit from Nigeria, who played his college ball at Western Kentucky University. He is a physical force on the court but definitely is a raw prospect at this stage of his development.

Bassey came into the season as an assumed first round talent, however, his stock has dropped after his impressive freshman season still revealed holes in his game that will definitely be exploited at the NBA level. All that being said, he was quite the prospect at WKU.

Strengths:

In his lone season at WKU, Bassey averaged 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game on 62.7 percent shooting from the field. His impressive double double average was built on his insane dominance inside the paint.

He shot an astounding 77.4 percent on shots at the rim and that number is even higher on non-post up shots around the basket. Bassey has a rudimentary hook shot that he can hit over his left shoulder but his postgame isn’t the hub of his offense. He generates most of his points by finishing on pick-and-rolls and using his faceup game.

Bassey’s physicality leads to him setting hard screens, and when he doesn’t set a hard screen, he slips to the basket quickly where he takes advantage with his soft touch when looking to score. It is tough for help defenders to knock Bassey off his path when he is rolling to the rim, as his immense lower body strength allows him to displace smaller players.

When Bassey faces up from 15-feet and in, he uses the aforementioned soft touch to convert on 40.8 percent of his 2-PT jump shots per Hoop-Math.com. On top of that, he generally has the speed to blow by most big men.

Bassey’s biggest strength from day one in the NBA will be his motor. He clearly gets fired up for big matchups, as he showcased when he dominated Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, who ended up winning the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given by the Basketball Hall of Fame to the country’s best center. In their late December matchup, Bassey helped hold Happ to a very inefficient 20 points on 23 shots.

In that same game Bassey finished with 19 points (7/8 FG, 5/5 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. He has arguably had better games, but the all-around versatility showcased in the stat line above is outstanding.

Bassey has flashed the ability to make nice passes before:

Since Bassey’s NBA offense will be centered around pick-and-roll plays, further developing his decision making on the short-roll will be a boon to whatever team drafts him.

On defense, Bassey already shows the ability to be an asset in the right system. When he is allowed to play in a traditional defensive system that has the center dropping back in pick-and-roll coverage, he swallows up shots with his 7-foot-3 wingspan.

Weaknesses:

The gigantic weakness Bassey showcased this season was an inability to function as a switch defender. He was great when it comes to protecting the rim--he averaged 2.4 blocks per game-- but he was consistently beat off the dribble by guards.

Of course it is rare to find any center--let alone a young one--that has the legitimate ability to function at a high-level when it comes to switching on to smaller, faster players. But that is precisely what makes Bassey the exact type of center you can find easily.

This is why a player of his talent level can slip into the second round.

Another big issue for Bassey is hands, or more specifically, the inability to hold on to passes when diving to the rim. As mentioned above, pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop basketball is how Bassey will carve out a niche in the league. But he occasionally struggled to hold on to the ball on throws that many would not even consider to be “tough passes”.

In the above strengths section it is mentioned how Bassey has some untapped potential as a passer, but he will never cash in on that potential if simply possessing the ball is a difficulty for him. He isn’t as explosive as usual if there are multiple defenders crowding him and raking at the ball, which happens often.

Over 1,067 minutes Basey amassed 24 assists as compared to a whopping 97 turnovers.

Long term outlook:

I believe Bassey will have a long NBA career due to his finishing in the paint and ability to block shots.

Bassey ran roughshod over his mostly Conference USA opposition on the season.

His 62.7 percent shooting from the field and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes were a few of the many things that showed that Bassey is at least ready for the physicality of the NBA.

But to become much more than a solid journeyman center, Bassey will have to hone his perimeter jump shot to the point that he can become a solid 3-point threat. He shot 45 percent on a very limited 20 attempts from 3-point range and converted on 76.9 percent of his free throws, an enticing set of numbers that show the type of player he could be in the future.

Whether or not Robin Lopez stays, the Bulls will be short on center depth next season.  After Wendell Carter Jr. went down for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, we saw the Bulls play ultra-small lineups that got beat up on the glass often as Jim Boylen was still reluctant to play Felicio more than 15 minutes per game.

Adding a high-upside prospect like Bassey helps Boylen and co. avoid over-using lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center, which helps keep Markkanen fresh and theoretically improves the overall team defense. 

From one GOAT to another: "Greatest comeback I've ever seen"

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NBC Sports Chicago

From one GOAT to another: "Greatest comeback I've ever seen"

 

Michael Jordan is no stranger to amazing comebacks.

The man widely agreed upon to be the greatest player of all time, won six NBA Championships, with three of them coming after a full season sabbatical in which he played minor league baseball with the White Sox affiliate. And of course, MJ had his even later comeback with the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003, in which the year 40-year old Jordan averaged 21.2 PPG over two seasons to close out his career.

That is why Jordan’s effusive praise of Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters victory should not be taken lightly in the greater context of sports history.

In an article written by The Athletic’s David Aldridge, Jordan talks about how he holds Woods’ 2019 Masters win in extremely high regard, calling it “the greatest comeback I've ever seen."

Jordan, a famously avid golfer himself and a friend of Woods, stated, “I’ve been a fan for I don’t know how long.....I never thought he’d get back physically.....He didn’t think he’d get back physically.”

Major success had escaped Woods--who only had one victory in 2018--due to a litany of back injuries and subsequent surgeries.

With Woods having a major victory under his belt for the 2019 season, he certainly has momentum rolling in his favor. That momentum could carry Woods to another major run of PGA Tour success, and MJ agreed that Woods’ belief in himself was perhaps the biggest factor in his 2019 Masters win.

“No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He's probably the only person who believed he could get back.”