Bulls

Four observations: Zach LaVine leads Bulls to win over Beal-led Wizards

Four observations: Zach LaVine leads Bulls to win over Beal-led Wizards

The Bulls picked up a much-needed win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. Here's some observations:

More men down

Daniel Gafford, after opening the Bulls’ scoring with an alley-oop, left this one just a minute-and-a-half in with a rather gruesome looking right thumb injury. Adding further insult:

Worse, the Bulls later confirmed in a statement that Gafford dislocated the thumb and will miss two-to-four weeks

And the injury bug wasn’t done biting. Early in the fourth quarter, Chandler Hutchison left the game after a hard fall on a rather impressive dunk. The extent of the injury isn’t known, but Hutchison had been enjoying his best performance (11 points, 5-for-7 shooting) since returning from a shoulder injury on Jan. 6. That time of the year.

A preview of the new rotation?

The remainder of the game served as a peek into what life without both Gafford and Wendell Carter Jr. could entail. In terms of the rotation, Boylen cycled Luke Kornet (35 minutes) with Lauri Markkanen (31 minutes), Thad Young (21 minutes) and even Cristiano Felicio (seven minutes) in the frontcourt, with Markkanen seeing more time at center than he has to this point in the season (but still not a ton).

Young played well, notching 18 points (7-for-9 shooting) and eight rebounds with some key early fourth-quarter buckets. His lack of minutes was peculiar. Kornet had 10 points, a block and hit a 3-pointer; Felicio was unimpactful. Markkanen started assertive against a slow-footed Wizards’ frontcourt, but ended the night with only 13 on eight shots.

The Bulls did switch up their pick-and-roll coverages on occasion but still opted to blitz in most situations. The Wizards finished the night with 16 turnovers, from which the Bulls generated 26 points.

Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal took turns

This was billed by many (including myself) as a matchup, first and foremost, between two all-star contenders in Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal. They both showed up.

The first half belonged to Beal — he split traps and got to his spots with ease throughout en route to 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting (2-for-2 from deep) in the opening two quarters. In one fun moment, after LaVine fouled him on a layup attempt in the second, Beal mean-mugged the UC crowd and gestured with his palm of his hand facing the ground as if to indicate that LaVine was ‘too small’ for him.

But LaVine awoke in the third, scoring nine in the frame and 17 in the second half overall. He brought the goods all night long:

 

 

Ultimately, it was LaVine who came out on top, in the final score column and the stat sheet. He finished the night with 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists on 12-for-21 shooting, 6-for-11 from deep (LaVine’s fifth straight game with 25+ points). His eight points in the fourth quarter largely iced the game.

A true barometer 

This was a competitive, back-and-forth game between two teams that appeared relatively evenly matched. That should tell you something about where the Bulls are right now.

The spurts felt familiar (it is a ‘game of runs’ after all). For the second game in a row, the Bulls came out of the half frothing — atypical for a team that’s  third-quarter net rating entering tonight ranked 27th in the NBA — and sprinted out to a 22-6 run in the first seven minutes of the third quarter. The Wizards clawed their way back to within five entering the fourth, and it was tug-of-war from there until the Bulls pulled away with about five minutes to go.

It’s a feel-good win, though marred by injury, in front of the home crowd. The Bulls have now one two of three. Philadelphia on Friday will be a major test.


 

Bulls provide update on Kris Dunn recovery timeline from knee injury

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USA Today

Bulls provide update on Kris Dunn recovery timeline from knee injury

Just one day after Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. provided cautiously optimistic updates on their injury recoveries, the Bulls took a hit.

On Wednesday, the team announced that Kris Dunn will continue his current rehabilitation schedule on his right MCL for four to six weeks before "progressing to functional training" and determining if "additional treatment" is required (i.e. reevaluation). That timeline is a result of an MRI and reexamination conducted on Dunn's knee on Feb. 14.

Dunn sprained his right MCL 13 seconds into a loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 31. The Bulls' defensive efficiency and playoff chances have plummeted since that time, and this news confirms suspicions that an extended absence would be in the cards.

To that point: With about two months remaining in the regular season, a four-to-six week reevaluation timeline casts serious doubt on whether Dunn will return at all this year — a possibility the Bulls have already been preparing for.

Dunn is set to his restricted free agency this offseason, and has proven immensely valuable to the Bulls in his third season with the team. Before going down, Dunn was second in the NBA in total steals and the Bulls owned the seventh-rated defense in the league.

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Bulls coach Jim Boylen stumps for Rudy Tomjanovich's Hall of Fame bid

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USA Today

Bulls coach Jim Boylen stumps for Rudy Tomjanovich's Hall of Fame bid

In case you forgot, Jim Boylen once worked for Rudy Tomjanovich. In fact, the former Rockets coach gave Boylen his NBA start, hiring him as an assistant coach and video coordinator way back in 1992.

Boylen saw first-hand the coaching chops and commitment Tomjanovich displayed as the Rockets won back-to-back NBA titles while Michael Jordan was playing baseball in the mid-1990s. So it's beyond loyalty when Boylen says he believes, like many others, that Tomjanovich belongs in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The organization named Tomjanovich a finalist over All-Star weekend in Chicago.

[RELATED: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett highlight Hall of Fame finalists]

"He's deserving," Boylen said. "I don't know why he's not in there yet. It doesn't make sense to me. Two championships, a gold medal."

That's a reference to Tomjanovich coaching USA Basketball's gold-medal winning team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Tomjanovich is an occasional visitor to the Advocate Center to watch Boylen.

"What he did with those Rockets teams and his playoff games — sixth seed in '95 — nobody's duplicated that. To win it from the sixth seed, play on the road like we did," Boylen said. "He has an unbelievable record in elimination games, which I think is a true test of your coaching and being able to communicate your message. I think he's getting in."

Does Boylen possess inside information?

"No," Boylen said, smiling. "He's due."

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