Bulls

Ben Wallace's five best games in a Bulls uniform

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Ben Wallace's five best games in a Bulls uniform

Expectations soared when reigning Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Bulls in July 2006.

The Bulls were coming off a .500 record in 2005-06, falling in six games to the eventual champion Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

But adding the 31-year-old Wallace was expected to inject life into a Bulls defense that young Tyson Chandler hadn't been able to; the Bulls then traded Chandler to the New Orleans Hornets for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith.

But Wallace never lived up to his billing after leaving Detroit, averaging 5.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in two seasons. The Bulls then dealt Wallace to the Cavaliers in a complex, 11-player deal at the 2007 trade deadline.

Wallace will have his number retired tonight in Detroit, where he spent nine seasons and was an instrumental part of the 2004 championship team and was named Defensive Player of the Year four times.

And while his time in Chicago was brief and rather insignificant - other than the headband debate - here are five of Wallace's best games in a Bulls uniform:

5. Dec. 1, 2007, vs. Charlotte: 10 points, 19 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 blocks, 41 minutes

One of Wallace's biggest box scores came in his second season with the Bulls. Wallace was the leading force on the glass as the Bulls out-rebounded the Bobcats a whopping 48-24. The Bulls had 19 offensive rebounds, with Wallace contributing eight of them that led to seven points. Wallace became the fourth player since 1985 to record at least 19 rebounds, five steals and four blocks, joining Hakeem Olajuwon (four times), Charles Barkley and Michael Cage. The Bulls won 111-95, with Ben Gordon's 34 points leading the way.

4. Apr. 29, 2007, at. Miami (playoffs): 13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 7-8 FT, 36 minutes

It wasn't a monster line for Wallace, but rather a capping off of his stellar defensive work against Shaquille O'Neal in the Bulls' first round sweep. In Game 4, Wallace limited O'Neal to 16 points and seven rebounds; O'Neal averaged 18.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in the series but wasn't much of a factor, logging a -54 +/- in the four games. Wallace, on the other hand, was a +51. And in that Game 4, Wallace went 7-for-8 from the free throw line, this coming after he shot 40.8 percent from the charity stripe in the regular season. O'Neal from the free throw line in that Game 4? 0-for-7.

3. Dec. 13, 2006: 15 points, 20 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 5 blocks, 39 minutes

Another stat stuffer for Wallace, who totaled at the time his season-high in both points, rebounds and blocks in a win over the SuperSonics. He became the first Bulls player since Horace Grant in 1993 to record at least 20 rebounds and five blocks in a game. Since Wallace accomplished the feat, only Joakim Noah has reached those totals in a Bulls uniform, doing so in 2009 and 2013.

2. Feb. 22, 2007: 14 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 7 blocks, 44 minutes

Squaring off against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the Bulls got an incredible performance from Wallace. His 19-rebound effort helped the Bulls win the battle of the boards, 52-40. And of Wallace's seven blocks, five came in the first half when the Cavs scored just 31 points. It marked just the second time the Bulls had topped a LeBron-led team in Cleveland, and the first time since King James' rookie season.

1. Dec. 15, 2006, vs. Milwaukee: 10 points, 27 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 48 minutes

Too bad you couldn't have had Wallace in your FanDuel lineup on this night. He played all but the last six seconds in a victory over the Bucks. The 27 rebounds were the most by any player in the NBA since 2002, when Wallace grabbed 28 rebounds in a 2002 win over the Pistons. No player reached the 27-board mark until 2008, when Marcus Camby did so against the Bulls in 2008. The fact that he added six assists, three steals and three blocks only add to what was clearly his best performance in a Bulls uniform.

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Picture yourself at 19 years old.

Maybe you were in college. Maybe you hit the job market early.

What you likely weren’t doing was guarding one the NBA’s best centers in your first professional game.

That was the task charged to Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls’ 127-108 loss to the 76ers in the season opener at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday.

Carter Jr. was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft after just one season at Duke. He earned the start in his NBA debut after an impressive preseason, but nothing could’ve prepared him for going up against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Carter Jr. said when asked if Embiid was as impressive as he thought he’d be. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of, or the best, big man in the league. Very skilled, very poised. He knows his spots on the court.

“I didn’t go out there with my best effort. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Carter Jr. had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in 20 minutes. He also picked up four fouls, which the rookie attributed to the physicality and craftiness of Embiid.

But he did flash the impressive and varied skill set that made him a high pick and such a coveted prospect. He was also able to garner the praise of the Bulls’ veterans.

“Even though Wendell got in foul trouble he was still playing (Embiid) solid,” Zach LaVine, who scored a team-high 30 points, said. “That’s a tough first game right there. But he didn’t lack for confidence. Made him take some tough shots, but he’s going to make them. He’s that type of player.”

To his credit, Carter Jr. was candid about his performance. He admitted that his emotions ran the gamut from nervous to excited to happy.

In a season that will have its ups and downs as the young Bulls develop and learn, there will likely be more games like this against other elite NBA competition. It’ll be how Carter Jr. responds that will define his career.

“It’s the first game so I don’t want to put too much on myself,” Carter Jr. said. “It would be different if it was like the 50th game or 60th game. It’s the first game. We’re just going to move on from it. We’ve got our home opener on Saturday (vs. the Pistons). That’s where my mind is right now.”

See, he’s learning already.

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

The Bulls backup point guard situation will be in dire straits all season, with no established veteran behind Kris Dunn. And although the front office has seemingly committed to Cameron Payne as the backup PG (for at least this season), Ryan Arcidiacono showed enough in the season opener to justify giving him meaningful plying time in the rotation. 

Here are the stat lines of Arcidiacono and Cameron Payne from the season opener in Philadelphia:

Arcidiacono: 8 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 from the 3-point line

Payne:           0 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 from the 3-point line

With so many capable ball handlers and score-first players on the Bulls, point and assist totals aren’t as important as the rebounds and 3-point attempts. To provide the necessary space needed for driving lanes, there has to be openings in the defense caused by defenders sticking close to player they believe are a threat to shoot.

And that is where the problem lies with Payne.

Ryan Arcidiacono—while by no means a dominant scorer—showed a willingness to attack off of the pick-and-roll, even showing off an impressive ball-fake:


Payne, despite coming into the league with the reputation of a scorer, has yet to be aggressive enough to make teams think twice about leaving him wide-open on the perimeter. And he is not one to attack the basket with purpose, averaging less than half a free throw per game for his career. Payne's general lack of aggressiveness when on the floor is often times made worse by his occasional poor post entry passes that seem predetermined:

Even if the above play was designed to get the ball to LaVine in the mid-post, Payne chooses a terrible time to make the pass. When he starts the motion to give the ball to LaVine, Ben Simmons is positioned in front of LaVine to force a tougher pass, as rookie Landry Shamet gambles over the backside to get the steal.

Had Payne chose to swing the ball around the perimeter, or give it to Bobby Ports and then get it back, he could have created an opening for the LaVine pass.

Obviously, the Bulls 19-point loss can’t be blamed on solely on Payne, the terrible defense was a group effort, as was the sometimes questionable shot selection. But with the defense already appearing to be perhaps one of the league's worst units, Fred Hoiberg would be wise to put Arcidiacono in more.

Hoiberg is in a crucial year where he needs to show that he can be the head coach of this team when they finally become competitive.

And for Hoiberg to show that type of growth as a coach, he needs to set the tone that minutes are earned not given, something he has already started with his moving of Jabari Parker to the bench. Payne only received 22 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for Arcidiacono, and it is tough to see that changing if things continue on like they did on Thursday night.