Bulls

Jabari Parker says he has moved on from his rough stint with the Bulls

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USA TODAY

Jabari Parker says he has moved on from his rough stint with the Bulls

Jabari Parker's stint with the Bulls was an intriguing one, filled with some nice highlights but mostly drama once he was taken out of Jim Boylen's rotation. Of course, Parker started the 2018-19 season with Fred Hoiberg as his head coach. Once the Bulls fired Hoiberg and moved on to Boylen, it quickly became clear that Parker wasn't going to be in the long-term plans for the Bulls who, for better or worse, were going through a big-time culture change.

Parker—now an Atlanta Hawk—returned to Chicago to play the Bulls on Wednesday and in comments made to ESPN, he made it clear that while he (says he) holds no ill will towards the franchise, he feels the city of Chicago will always have his back.

"I just had to move on, but that never changed about how I feel about my city."

Indeed, Parker is known around Chicago for — outside of the obvious, like being a former No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft and one of the greatest high school basketball players in Simeon's and Illinois' illustrious hoops history —  the many free basketball camps he holds around the city, which provide an opportunity for the Chicago youth to get some great basketball tutelage and stay out of trouble, all without placing further financial strain on families. 

What has been impressive about Parker in regards to his philanthropic efforts throughout Chicago is the consistency. Parker has been active in the Chicago community since his time at Simeon, during his years with the Bucks, and has even stayed connected to the city during his stint with the Washington Wizards and his current time with the Hawks. 

Parker surely wasn't pleased with how things ended in Chicago, stating in different interviews since then that all he ever wanted was an "opportunity to play". The situation worked out in the long run for both sides, as the Bulls trade that sent Parker to Washington netted them valuable 3-and-D wing Otto Porter Jr. and Parker got to play over 27 minutes a night with the Wizards, playing well enough to land a two-year, $13 million contract with the Hawks.

Atlanta is in the midst of their own rebuild, affording Parker just over 27.8 minutes per game, his highest average since the 2016-17 season. He wasn't able to get a "revenge victory" over the Bulls on Wednesday night, scoring 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting as the Bulls ran away with a 34-point win. But his comments before the game were heard loud and clear: Parker may feel that he has no connection at all to the franchise that he only played a mere 39 games for but like his father (Chicago hoops legend Sonny Parker) did before him, Parker will continue to do his best to bring positive change to Chicago communities, be it as a Chicago Bull or not. 

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Bulls observations: Zach LaVine steals the show in runaway win over Cavaliers

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USA Today

Bulls observations: Zach LaVine steals the show in runaway win over Cavaliers

The Bulls got back in the win column with a 118-106 victory over the Cavaliers, and Zach LaVine is ridiculous. Here's some observations:

Zach LaVine did it again

Whatever happens over the rest of this Bulls season, don’t put it at the feet of Zach LaVine. If you take one thing away from this one, make it that.

LaVine was simply tremendous tonight. He finished with a cool 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in 39 minutes of play, and shot 16-for-30 from the field (5-for-12 from three; 7-for-8 from the free throw line). After the Bulls fell to the Kings on Friday, LaVine said he was fully prepared for any amount of advanced opportunity that might come his way. He proved that tonight. The Cavaliers threw the kitchen sink (and Tristan Thompson, for a couple possessions) at him, and it didn't matter.

Though he entered the fourth quarter with 39 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, LaVine was unable to clinch his first career triple double. He did make a modicum of history, though: 

Yeah, getting those last two assists would have been a cool milestone. But Bulls fans will take the sublime scoring performance — and victory — and run with it. LaVine’s fourth 40-point outing of the season doesn’t hurt his All-Star chances, either.

A bunch of good things happened in the third quarter

I’ve harped on it more than a few times this season, but the Bulls are not a good third quarter team. Their 27th-ranked -8.3 third quarter net rating proves it.

Tonight was different. The Bulls pounded the Cavaliers 40-19 in the third period, extending a two-point halftime lead to 23 entering the fourth.

To put it simply: Everything went right. The Bulls turned eight Cavaliers turnovers into 13 points, shot 16-for-21 (76.2%) from the field, 3-for-5 from three and slung 10 assists in those 12 minutes, alone. And though LaVine carried the load in the first half, the Bulls got 28 points in the third from the non-LaVine contingent of the team — a positive development.

Notably, Tomas Satoransky finished the night with a fully stuffed stat line of 19 points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals on 8-for-11 shooting. The Bulls’ second-scorer problem is still a pressing one, but we’ll put it aside for another night. 

Let’s have fun with this one

This win doesn’t assuage most any of the darkest clouds hanging over the Bulls. The Cavaliers are a disastrous team -- rated in the bottom eight of the NBA in offensive and defensive rating, and with the league’s highest turnover rate (Cleveland committed 21 cough-ups tonight). And yet, they shot 50% from the floor, 43.3% from the 3-point line and both outrebounded and out-assisted the Bulls tonight. 

But given the mounting adversity facing this team, this is one fans can afford to have some fun with. The Zach LaVine show marches on, and will continue to be worth watching.

Next stop: the UC for the Spurs on Monday.

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Jim Boylen standing firm at moment of reckoning in Bulls' season

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USA Today

Jim Boylen standing firm at moment of reckoning in Bulls' season

It’s no secret that the Bulls’ season hangs in the balance. At 17-30, the team is at once three games out of a playoff spot and slated ninth in the current lottery standings. 

To hear head coach Jim Boylen and co. tell it, a playoff berth remains the more desirable of those two timelines. But according to Basketball Reference, the Bulls have the third most difficult remaining strength of schedule in the East. And worse, they’ll have to face the (immediate) future without Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and Daniel Gafford.

The loss of Markkanen — the most recent of that group to go down — has tipping point potential. In the Bulls’ first game without him, they mustered just 81 points at home against a swooning Sacramento Kings squad, shooting 8-for-37 from 3-point range in the process. The team’s need for secondary scoring outside of Zach LaVine glared

But, as Boylen has maintained all season, the Bulls are not going to change the way they play. They just need to play better.

“We gotta play faster, we gotta move the ball. I thought we had a couple possessions where the ball stuck. The ball can’t stick. We gotta move it, we gotta drive it,” Boylen said of the loss to the Kings before the Bulls’ Saturday night matchup with the Cavaliers in Cleveland. “I also think we missed some opportunities that we need to make.

“Our margin for error is not great. We have to make the plays we can make and make the shots we can make.”

For now, at least, the starting lineup won’t change (sorry #StartCoby crowd) — though Boylen said he’ll keep his rotation fluid. As for outside reinforcements being brought in?

“We have not talked about that. Doesn’t mean we won’t,” Boylen said when asked if the Bulls could actually pivot to ‘buying’ at the trade deadline, given their relative proximity to a playoff spot. “We’re in the middle of a really tough stretch of games, and a lot of games, so my focus has been on that.

“I love the guys we have,” he added. “And we’re gonna keep coaching and teaching the guys we have. I’ve got a good group, a coachable group.”

Absent from those adjectives was ‘interchangeable’ but that word has been ever-present in Boylen’s vocabulary through the ups and downs of this season. In his first full year at the helm, his primary goal remains clear.

“Because we’re establishing this system,” Boylen said when asked why, through thick and thin, the team’s playing style hasn’t changed, as it did last season after Boylen was hired. “Last year, we were tearing it down and then establishing it. Now we’re gonna keep establishing it.”

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Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.