Bulls

Jim Boylen, Zach LaVine meet to clear air over Bulls' late-game timeouts

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USA Today

Jim Boylen, Zach LaVine meet to clear air over Bulls' late-game timeouts

The second of Ricky Rubio’s free throws splashed through the net with 30.3 seconds left, pushing the Suns’ lead to 10 points.

Timeout, Bulls.

By this point, Jim Boylen’s late-game timeouts that run counter to the norm have become as expected as his unapologetic reasoning behind them.

But when cameras catch Boylen’s star player in Zach LaVine for the second time this season expressing frustration over the unconventional move... Well, now you have a story. And given that the Bulls have lost eight straight and continue to field a team without several significant pieces, it’s a bigger one than the 112-104 loss.

“That’s what he do, man,” LaVine said, laughing. “I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not the coach. He told me he likes working on things we do in practice and things like that. He’s the coach. He can call timeout if he wants to.

“I just wish we were in the game. We played a really good game throughout the game and then we lose control. It’s just frustrating. Obviously, you never know what can happen type thing. But you’re down by 10 with 30 seconds left, it’s tough to stay locked in at the end of that.”

Speaking before LaVine addressed reporters, Boylen not only remained unapologetic about taking the timeout but disputed a question about LaVine showing frustration over them.

“We were just trying to get a 3, execute an action we’ve been working on,” Boylen said. “I think their pressure on our inbounds hurt us all night. We had a hard time getting the ball into actions.”

Just as they did on Feb. 2 in Toronto, TV cameras caught LaVine clearly mouthing frustration over the timeout.

“He hasn’t said a word to me about it agitating him,” Boylen said. “I don’t know if you’re reading his mind on that or you’re just making that assumption that that’s what he’s upset about. He hasn’t said a word to me about it. He’s very respectful about me coaching the team and me trying to help the team.

“I don’t think it is agitating guys. You’ll have to ask them.”

Just as reporters received access to the postgame locker room to do so, Boylen pulled LaVine into an off-limits area of the locker room. Asked if Boylen was upset with him, LaVine took the high road.

“We were just talking about some things throughout the game, some stuff I didn’t like and some stuff that happened throughout the game — player-coach things that we just talk about every once in awhile,” LaVine said. “We’re good. It just gets frustrating when you’re not winning. I think everybody gets frustrated. I wish we were in the game at the end of games. I want to be a winner. It gets tough when you’re start losing.”

The Bulls are doing so at such a rate that multiple news outlets, including NBC Sports Chicago, have reported that offseason changes are coming to a new management structure. In light of the expected moves, Boylen said he’s not concerned about his status.

“My focus is to continue to coach this team and develop this group of guys. I have my marching orders from the front office to develop this group, get us to play hard, compete, and play the guys that are healthy and try and make them better. That’s what I’m focused on,” Boylen said. “As far as a distraction for the team and all that, I haven’t felt that. The guys have done a good job of the task at hand.’’

In fact, Boylen likely would opine that his late-game timeouts are exactly the type of teaching and accountability that ownership and management charged him with upon his hiring and contract extension. Even if they fly in the face of convention.

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Report: ESPN moving release of 'The Last Dance' documentary on 1998 Bulls to April

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USA Today

Report: ESPN moving release of 'The Last Dance' documentary on 1998 Bulls to April

It's happening. We did it.

Monday night, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that ESPN is moving up the release date of 'The Last Dance,' the highly anticipated 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan and the 1998 Bulls, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Marchand, the new start date will be April 19. Until now, the docuseries was billed as being released some time in June.

Some writing had been on the wall that this might be coming. In mid-March, commercials for 'The Last Dance' began advertising the series as 'Coming Soon' instead of 'Coming in June.' ESPN shortly thereafter dismissed rumors of the release date moving up — saying the documentary had yet to be completed — only to be indirectly contradicted by LeBron James and (ESPN employee) Richard Jefferson on the Road Trippin' podcast late last week.

Now, it's nearly official. Marchand reported that ESPN is planning to announce the new release date on Good Morning America Tuesday morning.

So rejoice, Bulls fans and sports lovers, at large. It won't replace the entirety of the void left by the halting of live sports, but this series is sure to be essential, enthralling TV, and as close as the sports world get to a monocultural event under the current parameters.

And above all, what a win for NBA Twitter. They keep rolling in.

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Bulls observations: The full Dennis Rodman experience sends Knicks packing

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls observations: The full Dennis Rodman experience sends Knicks packing

The Knicks are hitting the links and the Bulls are going to the Eastern Conference Finals. Observations:

A splendid series for Dennis Rodman

This series felt like the full Dennis Rodman experience, and it was delightful. In terms of production, he averaged 15.6 rebounds (4.8 offensive) across five games and dished two game-swinging assists to close out Game 4 at The Garden. As a team, the Bulls were +39 on the boards (winning the offensive glass 84-45) in the series.

In the clincher, Rodman posted 11 points and 12 rebounds — relatively pedestrian by his standards. But he was omnipresent throughout nonetheless, a whirlwind of limbs careening into every rebound scrum, passing lane and screen set. His swagger and unbridled joy for the game were on full display, too:

 

 

Every foul call (there were six in this one, plus an ejection) drew a performance. Every bump from a Knicks player elicited subtle retaliation. And every move he made was met by raucous cheers from the home crowd. Chicago really loved Rodman, and he earned it every time he stepped on the floor.

It all culminated with a litany of peak Dennis moments in the fourth quarter. With just over four minutes left to play, he leapt down the floor and into Luc Longley’s arms after a fastbreak Longley dunk that he assisted put the Bulls up 13. Moments later, he sealed the game for good with a layup to similar celebration (this time, Ron Harper got the hug). 

And the coups de gras: With about a minute left and the game out of reach, he picked up a suspect second technical (which led to an ejection) after he had committed a sixth personal foul. A fiery exit and impassioned jersey chuck into the frenzied UC stands capped it off. All in a day’s work for The Worm. His evolution from fierce rival to beloved anti-hero is truly something to behold.

 

Unfortunately, NBC Sports Chicago wasn’t able to get the reel from this game’s ‘Walk of Shame’ but we’re sure it was as entertaining as ever after this one.

“Playing in the mud”

Those were Tom Dore’s words early in the fourth quarter, and boy were they apt. For this game and the entire series. 

Without fail, mid-90s Bulls-Knicks seems to be a recipe for slog. A fistfight where all the blows are contested midrange jumpers and wild elbows. Only once in the series did a team reach 100 points (the Knicks, in Game 3). In this one, the Knicks hit their first 3-pointer with just outside of a minute remaining in the third quarter (finishing 2-for-13 overall). 

Man, how times have changed: 

 

But ultimately, this series amounts to another whooping, one the Knicks appeared noticeably demoralized by the end of. The Bulls’ swagger is just unmatched. We’ve detailed Rodman’s individual exploits, but there really is a collective feeling of inevitability when this team gets rolling, as they did in the second half of this game. Somehow, Michael Jordan’s 36-point average in this series felt under-the-radar, but he was capable of ripping New York’s hearts out seemingly on a whim.  

And beyond even the players, this team’s energy seemed to seep into the city around them. At one point in this game, cameras panned to a fan-posted ‘Title Ticker’ on the UC wall, counting down the numbers of wins remaining until another Bulls championship. “Another One Bites the Dust” blared as the Knicks sauntered off, defeated. Even from afar, it’s apparent that this dynasty was a full-city effort.

And another late-series gem, from Johnny “Red” Kerr: 

So long, Knickerbockers.

Passing thoughts

  • Jordan (35 points, 5 assists) and Pippen (15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 steals) remain absolutely ridiculous. And Ron Harper, who poured in an impactful 12, is still one of my biggest personal revelations from this Rewind run. Couldn’t go this whole post without shouting out their nights.

  • We had a sad, then animated, then sad again Spike Lee make multiple appearances throughout this one. You simply have to respect the grind.

  • Seriously. Bring back the classic Bulls intro theme. I’ll never ask for anything again.

  • Uh, what?

 

See you Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Magic.

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

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.