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Bulls' bench red hot, helps destroy Toronto

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Bulls' bench red hot, helps destroy Toronto

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011
Posted Jan. 4, 9:39 PM Updated 12:17 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

They say familiarity breeds contempt.

Well, in the case of the Bulls and the Raptors, any animosity must be one-sided, as Chicago (23-10) routed Toronto (11-23), 111-91, Tuesday evening at the United Center for the home teams 14th victory in 16 games.

Toronto scored on five of its first six possession to open the contest, a fun fact that clearly didnt amuse Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Outside of Luol Dengs (24 points, four assists) aggressive approach, the most significant action on Chicagos end of things was a prolonged timeout for blood that eventually briefly sidelined Carlos Boozer (12 points, 13 rebounds).

Sparked by Dengs early hot hand, the Bulls quickly gained ground on the visiting Raptors by the midway point of the contests initial period. Derrick Rose (19 points, six assists) would start to find his groove shortly thereafter even taking a charge on the defensive end and display his ever-varying scoring repertoire with a 3-pointer and a dazzling dribble move and finish included in his bag of tricks.

Despite Chicagos surge, Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani (23 points, six rebounds) finally starting to live up to his potential as a former No. 1 overall pick, albeit on a losing team however, kept the scoring-oriented visitors competitive. At the end of a quarter, the Bulls held a 29-27 advantage.

Offensively, I liked us a lot in the first quarter. I didnt like our defense, but I liked our offense. So, we have to put the two of them together and well be okay, said Thibodeau.

He wouldnt have to be concerned about the team blending solid efforts on both ends for the rest of the contest, as the perfectionist grudgingly admitted by omission that he was pleased with his teams performance.

Perhaps emboldened by the solid first-quarter play of Taj Gibson (16 points, 14 rebounds) at first to spell Boozer following the aforementioned blood timeout and then a strong start to the second period from rookie Omer Asik (career-high 13 points, seven rebounds, career-high five blocked shots, two assists), Thibodeau let an all-reserve unit play extended minutes (Deng started the quarter, but would be subbed for relatively quickly; Thibodeau sent Boozer to the scorers table, then recalled him after evaluating the play on the floor) and his bench responded, widening Chicagos winning margin to double digits.

The bench was great, said Thibodeau. They played with great energy, their defense was terrific. Omer and Taj were great up front, Ronnie was very good, C.J., Kyle. They executed, they did a terrific job.

Added Rose: Theyre playing great for us, playing defense thats the biggest thing rebounding the ball, blocking shots, just chasing the ball down.

We tell Omer just to be aggressive; when you get inside, people are going to foul you and he was trying to dunk everything. Thats what we need. Taj was hitting his jump shot, hitting his layups, trying to dunk the ball. Theyre doing good for us.

While Asik would soon depart for Boozer, Gibson remained on the court and sustained his positive output, as did Ronnie Brewer (12 points, four rebounds), who provided his typical energy and slashing ability.

Thibodeau began filtering his regulars back into the game and the home team continued to click on cylinders, using opportunistic defense the Bulls forced 10 first-half turnovers and held Toronto to 38.5 percent shooting from the field and mostly textbook execution of Thibodeaus desired inside-outside going into halftime with a 59-41 lead.

Chicago sustained its momentum to open the third quarter on a 6-0 run, with Boozer being much more of a focal point offensively and impacting the game in general, quickly joining Gibson in the double-double club.

The Bulls kept the pressure on the visitors on both ends of the floor before some minor slippage permitted Toronto to slice into its deficit, although they didnt put a major dent in Chicagos comfortable advantage.

I thought the offense ran well and what that did is it got them scrambling, and we did a good job of moving the ball and finding open shots, said Deng.

Although Bargnanis diverse scoring, point guard Jerryd Bayless (11 points, eight assists) floor generalship and athletic swingman DeMar DeRozans (18 points) slashing were all somewhat effective for the Raptors, the continued inside presence of reserves Gibson and Asik, combined with the scoring threats of Rose and Deng, allowed the Bulls to maintain an 81-69 lead heading into the final stanza.

Gibsons tremendous outing was curtailed by picking up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter, but Asik picked up some of his slack with his strong finishing, defensive prowess and high activity level.

Deng again playing with the second unit; he was the only starter to do so in the final period helped the Bulls push their lead to over 20 points, with help from C.J. Watson (five assists, three steals), who did a nice job distributing the ball throughout the contest.

I think its big, said Thibodeau of resting his starters. Any rest you can get in a back-to-back situation is important and again, the bench, just the way the played was terrific."

Concurred Rose: Its huge, knowing that the starters except for Lu, he was out there for a minute but everybody should be rested up. I think we came out there and did what we were supposed to do toward the end and thats play defense and make games hard for opponents.

With the game already out of hand midway through the quarter and the United Center crowd clamoring for fan favorite Brian Scalabrine Toronto simply couldnt get anything going. Eventually, both Scalabrine and second-year forward James Johnson entered the contest, a clear sign that even the ever-diligent Thibodeau was aware the game was indeed over, something made official when Scalabrine scored the games last basket.

Scalabrines really good, said Boozer afterwards, responding to a reporters question about the veteran reserve seeing late action. You guys dont see him play a lot, but he can play. Hes been in this league a long time for a reason.

Top to bottom, everybody played great. Everybody contributed. Great game. After the first quarter, we started playing better defense and it took care of itself. We had a big lead, clamped down, rebounded the ball, defended the ball, executed our offense and got a fun win for us, he continued. This is another time where we improved as we won. We had a great practice yesterday, had great preparation today and played a good game.

When we have contributions like that through all 1-13 guys, it makes it easier for everybody. We had fun out there you saw how much fun we had on the bench, watching those guys get busy and thats why were a team. We need everybody.

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.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.