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Bulls Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Jim Boylen

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Jim Boylen

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Bulls head coach Jim Boylen to get his thoughts on the team, star players Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen, and his goal to win a title.

1:00 What he’s learned about being a head coach vs assistant coach

3:20 Who he leans on for support on and off the court

5:10 On pride in the organization and the influence basketball had on him as a kid

7:55 On joining the Bulls as an assistant under Fred Hoiberg, then as a head coach

9:50 On players buying in to his program, relationship with Zach LaVine

11:58 On playing more up-tempo in February and hope for next season

13:55 On what he wants to see from his players this offseason

15:40 On potential roster changes this summer and adding veterans

17:35 Impact of Otto Porter Jr.

20:10 On Lauri Markkanen and areas he needs to improve in

22:18 On Kris Dunn and the team’s approach this offseason to point guard

24:20 On the several members of the Windy City Bulls getting significant playing time at the end of the season

26:28 What he will work on this summer

28:44 On his goal of bringing a championship to the Bulls

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Four observations from the Bulls' season-opening loss to the Hornets

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USA Today

Four observations from the Bulls' season-opening loss to the Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- The Bulls opened their 54th season in franchise history with a 126-125 loss to the Hornets at Spectrum Center. Here are four observations:

The defense rested

Don’t let a comeback from 16 points down to take a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead fool you. The transition defense lacked. Strong closeouts were as common as Bigfoot sightings. The Bulls allowed a 15-1 run after rallying to take that 10-point, fourth-quarter lead.

The Hornets outscored the Bulls 69-27 from 3-point range. That included Hornets first-round pick P.J. Washington setting an NBA record with seven 3-pointers in his debut.

"I don’t think we contested shots well enough. And transition defense hurt us," Lauri Markkanen said. "We didn’t communicate the way we want to so they got a couple of open looks and they definitely got comfortable. And then it didn’t matter even if our hands were up. They were making shots. Twenty-three 3s is way too many."

Overall, the Hornets shot 51.1%, including 52.3% from 3-point range. That’s a franchise record for 3-pointers by the Hornets.

"I thought they had us on rotations. I thought they got downhill on us. I thought at times our 1-on-1 defense hurt us," coach Jim Boylen said. "We gotta help and you have to commit to the driver and they sprayed it out. And they made a lot of shots."

Kris Dunn briefly changed the game

The starter-turned-reserve who has been saying all the right things placed his fingerprints all over the run that flipped the script.

Once down by 16 points, the Bulls rallied in the third quarter and then watched Dunn score seven points with two steals in an 11-1 run that pushed the Bulls ahead 115-105 with 7 minutes, 6 seconds left.

"KD has accepted his role so well. He’s one of the best defenders you can have out there on the floor, for any team," Zach LaVine said. "He gets feisty. And obviously he can get it going offensively too. He just has to get into his rhythm. But he gave us a big boost. He’s a dog. He’s going to give us that mentality too. He lifts everybody else up and makes them play at that level."

Dunn victimized Dwayne Bacon twice and aggressively finished at the rim at the other end, powering through contact on one traditional three-point play. Dunn has struggled to finish at the rim throughout his Bulls’ tenure.

"We got a lotta offensive power," Dunn said. "To back it up, the second unit gotta come in and do our job. We have defined roles. Me being a defender is a role for myself and I try to take it head on."

Lauri Markkanen showed up

The third-year forward made all that preseason talk of him floating on the perimeter vanish with a variety of aggressive moves. With Michael Jordan looking on, Markkanen became the first Bull with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in a season opener since His Airness dropped 53 points and 14 rebounds on Nov. 3, 1989.

More important than Markkanen’s 35 points and 17 rebounds was how he achieved them. He scored his first 26 points without making a 3-pointer. He consistently attacked the basket. He got downhill. He posted up. His rebounding in traffic underscored his aggressiveness.

"Just trying to be active," Markkanen said. "Be in the ball screens a lot and playing the two-man game and just being aggressive. That’s what I tried to do. And rebound the ball. I feel confident with the ball when I get a couple of touches early off the board.

"I was kind of looking for the shots during the preseason and where they come from. I know it’s going to be different in the regular season and I’ll get involved more. The rotations are smaller too. It just kind of showed the way we can play. We just got to work every day and get better at it."

Zach LaVine struggled

So dominant in the preseason with 50% shooting, LaVine missed his first five shots and failed to score until 4 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first half when he converted a driving layup. He even chose to lay the ball in on a breakaway rather than dunk it, drawing boos from the crowd.

"I was ready to go, of course. I mean I’ve played this game so many times, obviously you should know how to calm yourself down. I just missed some easy shots, man," LaVine said. "It’s not like you’re trying to miss those things. I had some point-blank layups, a couple open threes. So I just gotta knock them down, do what I do, stay with my same routine. I don’t get too high or too low. I’ll go back and look at the film, look at the things I did good and bad. But obviously I expect more of myself to go out there and lead the team, especially on the offensive end. I think that’s a big part of my job out here, and I didn’t do that. So I’m upset.’’

LaVine finished with 16 points and seven assists but curiously scored on a driving layup with the Bulls down three in the waning seconds.

Players vote Thaddeus Young, Otto Porter Jr. as Bulls captains

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USA Today

Players vote Thaddeus Young, Otto Porter Jr. as Bulls captains

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- The tribe has spoken. In a players' only vote administered by coach Jim Boylen, Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter Jr. will be captains for the Bulls.

"They’ve demonstrated an ability to put the team above themselves and the ability to communicate with their teammates in a positive way," Boylen said. "I haven’t felt they’re worried about getting liked. They’re worried about getting it right. Something we talk about here is leadership over likership. And I think they have a great feel of that."

Young, a 12-year veteran, long has commanded respect as the consummate teammate. Porter arrived from the Wizards last season and is in his seventh season.

"It means a lot," Porter said. "Just everything I’m doing is for the team, on and off the court. I gotta represent the team right. Make sure our guys are knowing they’re leaded in the right direction. I take that seriously."

Zach LaVine has voiced desire to assume more leadership and perhaps other players, particularly relatively new ones, earning the captain title over him will be instructional and motivational. In the meantime, look for LaVine to land on Boylen's leadership committee, which he established last season. The practice, which is used more in football than basketball, raised some eyebrows around the league for its unconventional usage.

"The leadership group has not disintegrated. It’ll be structured with the help of the captains. I felt the captains was the first step to that. Captains are very important to me in my career," Boylen said. "I’ve always thought it’s big to the leadership of your team. I’m thrilled with the two players that the team voted on having as our captains. We wanted training camp to go by. We wanted everybody to get a chance to be together and see how people operate. And so we voted on it."

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