Bulls

Boozer paces Bulls to victory; Rose has X-rays

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Boozer paces Bulls to victory; Rose has X-rays

Monday, Dec. 12, 2010
Posted 9:30 PM Updated 12:08 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

The Bulls (15-8) sixth straight victory, a 92-73 triumph over the Pacers (11-12) at the United Center, was marred by a series of injuries to superstar point guard Derrick Rose Monday evening.

Rose injured his right wrist and left ankle late in the game, as Chicago pulled away from Central Division rival Indiana. Following a fast start, the Pacers roared back, but improved defense (holding the Pacers to a season-low point total, the third straight time the Bulls have done that to an opponent) and rebounding, along with strong play from Carlos Boozer carried the team in the second half.

An aggressive and focused Bulls squad came out with a purpose, starting the game on a 14-2 run within a blink of an eye (in actuality, by the 9:16 mark of the first quarter), prompting a timeout by dour Pacers head man Jim OBrien.

Any Indiana adjustments made during the break didnt seem to make an immediate impact, as the Bulls continued to play stifling defense (aided by unforced errors by the Pacers), and kept up their balanced offensive play and torrid shooting.

You have to realize as a player, you never have it figured out. We want to play with pop every time, even when we start games flat, its not like we try to do that. We try to come out with pop every night, said Joakim Noah. I feel like the last couple games, weve been doing a good job with the right mindset, coming out jumping on teams. Weve got to keep doing that.

Boozer (22 points, 18 rebounds, four assists), in particular, established himself in the low post and on the boards, while Rose (17 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, 3-for-6 from 3-point range) proved his recent hot streak from behind the arc was no fluke by nailing a pair of triples in the early going.

Indiana eventually picked up its play, preventing the contest from being a complete laugher, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau went to his bench early (two fouls on Rose was one reason he was forced to use his depth) and the opening quarter ended with Chicago holding a 27-18 advantage.

Both teams would cool off in the second period (after the Pacers picked up their shooting percentage following the Bulls initial blitz), but the Bulls poor shot selection mostly abandoning the inside-first approach that worked so well at the games start permitted the Pacers to get back into the contest, closing to within a sole point midway through the quarter.

Small forward Mike Dunleavy (12 points) and backup point guard T.J. Ford (13 points) were Indianas main catalysts, with virtually matching Chicago on the glass also playing a part in the comeback.

The visitors actually overtook the Bulls after a follow-up dunk by forward Josh McRoberts (he then duplicated the feat on the Pacers next trip), completely turning the tables on the Bulls, whose discombobulated state was best illustrated by a technical foul on the normally mild-mannered Rose and Indianas rebounding advantage, a rarity for an opponent of Chicago.

Some late Rose heroics he had a quietly well-rounded half as a scorer (although not efficient shooting the ball), distributor and rebounder put the Bulls up, 43-41, at the break.

We came out ready to playthe thing that concerned me more than anything was our rebounding in the second quarter. They were taking threes and there were long rebounds. I thought we were leaking out and they were beating us to a lot of loose balls, said Thibodeau. Weve been an above-average rebounding team the whole year.

That being saidwe have to rebound with all five and I didnt think we were doing that. We were trying to get out on the break and you cant do that against a team like this because thats also another way they get some open threes. Theyre very good at chasing down those long rebounds, quickly swinging the ball and now youre giving up a wide-open three on the weak side. I thought that was the biggest problem that we had. I think offensively, that team is very hard to guard because of all the stuff that they do.

Added Boozer: I think one of our strengths is running, but we have to rebound and defendwe cant get out on the fast break if were taking the ball out of the net. When we do a good job defending and rebounding, we can get into transition. We have the fastest point guard in the game and if we get out and run, it gets everybody open shots.

Noah discussed Thibodeaus visibly frustrated demeanor heading into halftime with reporters afterwards.

Hes always hot. What do you mean? That was the most animated youve seen him? Hes animated 24-7, quipped Noah. Thibs is usually right, even though sometimes you dont want to hear it. Thibs is usually right and he knows what hes talking about. Like I always say, hes somebody whos been in a championship locker room before and that means a lot because hes been there and he knows what it takes.

I think that they shot the ball very well during that stretch and our offense was kind of stagnant. Basketball is a game of runs, but obviously its not good when a team makes a big run like that, especially when youre up a lot, he went on to say. We have to do a better job of moving the ball and executing well, even when we have the lead.

A sluggish start to the third quarter saw Chicago build a slight cushion. It certainly wasnt pretty basketball, but the Bulls tightened the screws defensively, played through Boozer offensively and rebounded the ball in more typical fashion, taking away Indianas prior advantage on the boards and creating their own second-chance opportunities.

Im just trying to play off my teammates, really. I think I do a good job of playing off D-Rose because he attracts so much attention out there. I try to find open areas from him and when I get the ball, be aggressive, said Boozer. The other thing is, Im learning how to play with Jo, too. A lot of times, his man will come up, so I try to get him a couple passes early to get him going he got a couple of dunks but for the most part, Im playing off my teammates, being aggressive out there and rebounding.

I think as each game goes better, Im getting better on the defensive side, the rebounding side and my team can only go like this makes uphill motion.

Added Thibodeau: I think it was a compilationwhen they guarded him with a big, he went away from the basket and when they guarded him with a small, he went to the basket.

His reaction to the ball was really good tonight. You could see his timing coming around, he continued. Each game, I think hes getting more comfortable out there.

Noah chimed in with his two cents about his fellow post players effort.

I feel like Carlos had a big game for us tonight. He really changed the game with his rebounding and the way he can score on the pick-and-roll, the center observed.

In addition to Boozer, who mixed in mid-range jumpers with his low-post game, Noah (12 points, five rebounds, three blocked shots) also got things going with his finishes around the rim mostly courtesy of Roses playmaking and reserve forward Taj Gibson provided a spark off the bench late in the quarter. Heading into the final period, the Bulls led, 65-58.

A ho-hum fourth quarter got more lively when reserve swingman Ronnie Brewers slashing ability provided some energy to Chicago, still clinging to an ever-tenuous lead over the visitors.

Ronnie played extremely well, high energy. I think hes shooting the ball well now, hes running the floor, praised Thibodeau. He did a lot of good things out there."

Rose hurts ankle

A scary moment came midway through the period, when Rose went to the ground in pain, clutch at his left ankle, but he recovered quickly and walked back to the bench under his own power.

I twisted my ankle a little bit, but that wasnt anything. It was just a tweak, said Rose of the injury, which occurred at 5:30 in the fourth quarter. I landed on someones foot, I think, when I tried to jump and get the rebound and the way I came down, it was kind of weird. I landed on someones foot. Taj or or Lu, one of them.

Rose stayed in the game after a timeout and subsequently found Boozer for baskets on consecutive Bulls possessions to give the team a double-digit lead once again. Seemingly none worse for the wear, Rose would also connect on a pull-up jumper and a driving layup on back-to-back trips soon afterwards.

Rose hurts wrist

With Chicago having the game in hand, Rose went to the rim in his usual swashbuckling manner, but was undercut by Pacers swingman Brandon Rush (13 points), taking a hard fall with 1:56 remaining and staying on the court before walking off with the aid of Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi and clutching his right wrist in pain.
Derrick Rose lays on the court in noticeable pain, grabbing his wrist after going down hard on a drive to the basket. Rose says he'll need treatment on Tuesday but should be fine. (AP)
I thought it was going to be worse than that. it knocked the wind out of me. Most people, when they jump that high, they usually get hurt pretty bad, but thank God, I didnt break anything I think, explained Rose, who said the injury felt worse than the hits he took from Orlando center Dwight Howard last season. Im coming down, I thought my wrists both of my wrists were going to be messed up, but I just hit my one right wrist and my elbow and it really messed me up a little bit.

Tedsechi spoke to reporters afterwards.

It looks like he sprained his wrist. X-rays are negative and well re-evaluate him tomorrow, said Tedeschi, who added that the team will wait until Tuesday morning before deciding whether or not to perform an MRI. Well see how he is tomorrow and kind of go from there.

All the bones are in the right place, so from that point we know that its not too severe from a sprain standpoint. So, well keep our fingers crossed and hope it stays that way, he continued. He kind of tweaked his ankle a little bit, too. But thank God he had his ankle braces on, so I think that helped him a lot. Its 20 games into the season, so things are starting to add up.

As in the previous scenario, Rose returned to the game following a timeout, even shooting both of his free-throw attempts, making the second of the pair.

Fred asked him if he could shoot and he said, Yes, so he went to shoot and we were going to foul to stop the clock in order to sub Rose out of the game and he said he was all right, said Thibodeau. The way he went down, those are tough plays. He was in the air, he drove the ball hard. Their team defense was excellent, they reacted. It was a bang-bang play. The way he went down, it looked like he fell in an awkward way, so I was concerned.

Rose wasnt oblivious to the pain, but the competitor in the third-year point guard refused to leave the game.

I want to play, no matter what, unless I couldnt move it. I knew I could move it a little bit. I just wanted to hurry up and get it out of the way before it really got tight, said Rose. That whole time, it was hurting, but once again, thats basketball. Mind over matter. I remember telling Joakim that, especially with his situation. If you want to go out there and play, you can play through it.

It cant be anything serious. If that was the case, they would have told meIts just sore. I really dont know whats going on. Its just sore right now, very sore, but I should be fine.

Down the stretch, the Pacers fight decreased and the Bulls cruised the rest of the way. Small forward Luol Deng (15 points, nine rebounds) closed things out with five points to seal the deal.

Were not satisfied with where we are. We know were playing very well and thats exciting for everybody, but weve got to continue to improve. Weve got big goals, weve got great teams were going to have to play down the road and were just trying to prepare for those moments, said Boozer. "Sometimes in our conference and obviously this is a division game, as well its going to be a grind-out, tough game and thats what it was tonight. Weve been able to show that we can win grind-out, tough games.

Added Thibodeau: They played well. That team, down leading scorer Danny Granger, they competed really hard. In the second half, the ball moved better and I thought our rebounding was a lot better.

Said Noah: Overall, I think we played pretty well defensively and weve just got to keep getting better. Theyre still a lot of areas we need to improve on, but overall, I think were playing pretty good basketball.

Six in a row is good. Weve just got to keep it up. Its a good feelingWere playing good basketball right now.

In order to maintain their current momentum, a quick return to health or brief absence by Rose is of the utmost importance.

Its very sensitive right now, very sore. Ive probably got to get treatment all tomorrow and probably have to get stim electronic stimulation on it tonight and sleep on it, said Rose, feet in an ice bucket and wrist already wrapped. I hoped nothing was broken. That was my main concern. I can usually play through pain, but when something is fractured or something is broken, its kind of unbearable to go out there and try to play.

My whole body is sore right now, but I should be all right.

Keep your fingers crossed, Bulls fans.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly), Danny Parkins (670 The Score) and Lauren Comitor (The Athletic) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Manny Machado Mania continues in Chicago. Do the Cubs even need to trade for him to win the World Series this year?

Ricky Renteria has to bench another player for not hustling. Is this becoming a problem on the South Side?

Plus, Lauri Markkanen is named to the All-Rookie team. Could he be the centerpiece of a trade if the Bulls want to acquire a superstar or move up in the draft? 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

NBA 'promises' to potential draft picks not unusual

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USA TODAY

NBA 'promises' to potential draft picks not unusual

Bulls Twitter went on high alert after last week's national report that the front office had made a "promise" to draft Boise State small forward Chandler Hutchison if he was still on the board at No. 22 in the first round. Weren't the Bulls supposed to be interested in SF prospects like Michael Porter Jr., Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges with their own first round selection? Did a "promise" to Hutchison mean the Bulls would go with Wendell Carter, Trae Young or Collin Sexton at No. 7?

The simple answer is the Bulls haven't made any final decisions on either pick. They still plan to bring the top prospects in for workouts and interviews before June 21 and will continue to take a close look at players likely to be available in the 18-30 range.

And, like any professional sports franchise, the Bulls aren't about to confirm or deny they've made a commitment to Hutchison or any other player. Drafts are fluid, and invariably players will rise and fall throughout the workout/interview process as teams try to get their boards lined up for the big night.

The main reason a team will make a "promise" to a player is to eliminate his incentive to work out for other franchises. In the case of Hutchison, he's obviously received assurances from a team or teams that he will be drafted in the first round. Hutchison cancelled his plans to participate in last week's NBA Draft Combine, and most likely will only work out for teams drafting ahead of the franchise that said they would select him.

Jerry Krause would famously try to hide his interest in players he coveted in a particular year and persuade them not to work out for other teams. The best example came in 1987 when a little known player from Central Arkansas named Scottie Pippen became an obsession for Krause, and the Bulls GM tried everything in his power to keep Pippen under wraps. Problem is, Pippen did attend the scouting combine and quickly became the hot topic among NBA scouts and executives. It took some intense work on Krause's part to arrange for the draft night trade that brought Pippen to Chicago for Olden Polynice. Krause also added Horace Grant later in that same draft, and the foundation was built for the Bulls' first three championship teams.

So, the idea of a team making a "promise" to a player they like is certainly nothing new. What's important to understand is that doesn't guarantee the team will follow through on that promise when they're on the clock. Back in 2013, the Bulls got word to Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng they were interested in taking him with their No. 20 pick in round one. But when the Bulls were on the clock, the front office decided they would rather have New Mexico swingman Tony Snell who was ranked higher on their draft board. The Bulls drafted Snell, much to Dieng and his agent's surprise. Dieng wound up going to Utah with the next pick and was traded to Minnesota. He's still with that franchise today, although in a reduced role after the Timberwolves signed Taj Gibson as a free agent last summer.

With so much uncertainty in this year's draft, it seems unlikely the Bulls would "promise" to select Hutchison five weeks before the selection process was going to begin. Hutchison and his agent most likely received assurances from NBA executives that he would be drafted in the 20-30 range, and that was enough to get him to drop out of the combine. But just like in 2013, if the Bulls see a player ranked higher on their draft board fall to 22, that's the player they're going to take.

Hutchison is a good prospect, a 3-and-D player who would fit well with the team the Bulls are building. But he's also a 22-year-old senior without the upside of some of the younger prospects who might be available with the Bulls' pick late in Round 1. Both Hutchison and the Bulls have to reserve the right to protect their own best interests. Hutchison will most likely agree to work out for teams drafting earlier than 22, and he'll have to understand if the Bulls decide to go a different direction on draft night, no matter what kind of previous discussions his agent may have had with the front office.

At this point in the pre-draft process, a "promise" can only be seen as a team's legitimate interest in a given player and an indicator of how the first round is likely to play out. But a lot can and will change before Phoenix goes on the clock on June 21.

Combine notes

Since most of the projected first round picks do little or nothing at the combine, it's left to the second-round guys to try to improve their draft stock with a strong showing in the scrimmage games. Last year, it was Kyle Kuzma working his way into the first round with a dazzling performance at the combine, and this year, the big winner might be Villanova shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo.

The NCAA Tournament hero impressed everyone with his athleticism on both ends and his ability to knock down open shots. DiVincenzo told me his 31-point performance in the title game against Michigan convinced him he had what it takes to apply for early entry, and his strong showing last week probably convinced him to hire an agent and remain in the draft.

Much like Kuzma, DiVincenzo had been projected as a likely second-round pick before the combine. Now he's looked at as a probable first rounder, going somewhere in the 20-30 range, which means he's likely headed to a good team that can ease his transition to the pro game. Not bad for a guy who came off the bench most of the season for the eventual NCAA champs and probably never imagined he would be leaving early for the NBA until that magical night in San Antonio.

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Other players who improved their draft stock last week include USC combo guard De’Anthony Melton, Maryland swingman Kevin Huerter, Tulane shooting guard Melvin Frazier, Cincinnati swingman Jacob Evans and another Villanova product, point guard Jalen Brunson.

Brunson didn't play in the scrimmages in Chicago, but he showed well in the physical testing, displaying the kind of athleticism every team is looking for at the point guard position. It looks like Brunson will definitely be a first round pick.

Similar story for Evans, who averaged a modest 13 points a game for a top 10 Cincinnati team, but impressed the NBA execs at the combine with his tenacious defensive play and offensive potential. Evans could be a possibility for the Bulls at 22.

Maryland's Huerter showed scouts he's more than just a standstill 3-point shooter. The 6-foot-6 sophomore averaged just under 15 points a game last season, shooting almost 42 percent from 3-point range. Huerter's solid play at the combine gives him a chance to be drafted at the end of Round 1.

Frazier also showed enough in games last week to have his name called among the top 30 picks. At 6-foot-6, he has excellent size at the shooting guard position. Frazier averaged just under 16 points a game during his junior season at Tulane, shooting almost 56 percent from the field.

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But the most interesting story involves Melton, who was held out by USC last season because of his connection to the FBI's investigation of corruption in college basketball. Melton maintained his innocence all along, and said the university was just doing what it had to do, fearing additional trouble with the NCAA over allegations a friend of Melton's had accepted money to try to steer Melton to an agent.

Still, even without playing competitively last season, Melton probably cemented a first round selection with his play at the combine. The 6-foot-4 combo guard flashed on both ends, scoring 15 points in a game last Friday playing alongside DiVincenzo in the backcourt.

Melton told USA Today he compares himself to other two-way standouts like Dwyane Wade, Kawhi Leonard and Avery Bradley. That's some pretty impressive company. Melton might be worth the investment of that No. 22 pick by the Bulls.

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Kudos to all the players who took part in the two days of media interviews last week. Almost all of them came off poised and well prepared. Among the top ten picks, I was especially impressed with Michael Porter Jr., who patiently answered all the questions about his back surgery and confidently said he considered himself the best player in the draft without sounding cocky.

Of course, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young also proclaimed themselves the best player in the draft, and projected top 10 picks Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and Collin Sexton also came across as supremely confident.

The latest Basketball Insiders Mock Draft has the Bulls taking Bamba at 7 and Chandler Hutchison at 22, which would make the front office and a lot of Bulls fans very happy. But just to show you the wide range in how draft experts are evaluating the top prospects, Basketball Insiders currently has Jackson Jr. going 11 to Charlotte, and it's hard for me to imagine him staying on the board past four.

Brace yourself for all kinds of wild speculation over the next four weeks.

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Finally, May 22 turned out to be quite a day for Lauri Markkanen. Not only is Markkanen celebrating his 21st birthday, but he found out he was voted to the NBA's All-Rookie first team after averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Markkanen joined Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma from the extremely talented 2017-18 rookie class.

And the second team isn't bad either with Dennis Smith Jr., Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Given Markkanen's talent and work ethic, it's very easy to see him making multiple All-Star Game appearances down the line. The Bulls can only hope they come up with another foundation player like Markkanen when they draft seventh for the second year in a row.