Bulls

Bulls clinch playoff berth with blowout win over Nets in regular-season finale

Bulls clinch playoff berth with blowout win over Nets in regular-season finale

One wonders when the minds of the Bulls players and coaches shifted from the Brooklyn Nets to the upcoming playoff opponent, the Boston Celtics.

It could’ve been five minutes into the game or five hours before, when they realized the Nets weren’t making any special additions to their lineup while sitting their top players.

Either way, they didn’t put forth their best performance in a 112-73 win, where the led wire-to-wire, clinching a playoff spot with a 41-41 record—one game worse than last season but enough to make the playoffs in an underwhelming Eastern Conference.

“Now the fun begins,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said, as Game 1 on Sunday evening starts the enjoyment against the Celtics in Boston, with Game 2 being Tuesday at TD Garden.

The Bulls were 34-39 a month ago, losers of five straight that included a 100-80 thrashing on a Sunday afternoon that wasn’t as close as the 20-point spread.

“I just told the guys how proud I am of them, our backs were against the wall,” Hoiberg said. “It was a great job of being resilient by our players, hanging in there and sticking in there and finding a way to battle all the way to the last day.”

They finished off their season like they started it—with more questions than answers, stumbling out after tipoff but thankfully for them, they played a team without Jeremy Lin, Brook Lopez and a few others who could’ve made the night miserable.

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Instead, it allowed the Bulls to shoot just 36 percent through three quarters but have such a comfortable lead that none of the starters were truly needed in the fourth quarter.

Jimmy Butler concluded his best season as a pro with a 25 point, six-rebound and four-assist showing, with career-high averages in all three categories. Had the Bulls record been better and Butler not gone through a mini-slump after the All-Star break, he’d be on the back end of some Most Valuable Player conversation.

“I think we all are seeing the evolution of Jimmy Butler,” said Wade in the morning shootaround. “I can’t say anybody, even Jimmy, knew that he would be this player right now. The biggest thing that surprised me is he’s a clutch player. For a guy who hasn’t had a lot of clutch moments in his career, he’s as clutch as it gets.”

He’ll have to settle for getting this rag-tag bunch into a playoff showdown with the Celtics, a team they probably feel confident against—or as confident as an eighth seed should against a top seed.

Presumably, Wednesday shouldn’t be an indication of how the Bulls are going to play but it appears their rotation is set the right way as Rajon Rondo returned from a right wrist injury to play 19 minutes and scored 10 points with five assists and six rebounds.

His backup, Jerian Grant, got valuable playing time in his stead and although he was right with the muck of the night, his 3-point shooting over the last couple weeks elevated him past Michael Carter-Williams for backup minutes.

And with Wade still working himself back into decent shape and rhythm, Paul Zipser had a career night, helping break the game open in the first quarter to score eight of his career-high 21 points off the bench in 29 minutes. The lead kept increased through the night against the undermanned Nets, who were led by Archie Goodwin’s 20 and K.J. McDaniels’ 15 points off the bench.

With the inconsistency of the season costing them throughout, it wasn’t a fatal blow as they get new life this weekend in Boston, with a chance to craft a new narrative and make the season a surprising success.

Bulls host 17th annual Thanksgiving Dinner

Bulls host 17th annual Thanksgiving Dinner

The Bulls hosted their 17th annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday at the Pacific Garden Mission. Several members of the organization, coaching staff, and players wearing red “Bulls” aprons and clear plastic gloves, scattered throughout the large cafeteria space to serve the community a warm Thanksgiving meal.

The scene was great. as head coach Jim Boylen helped carve one of the four turkeys in the Ceremonial Turkey Carving, while Will Perdue looked like he was vying for his fifth NBA Championship as he balanced almost ten plates on two trays. Perdue then joyfully shuffled through the room with his wife, assisting his game by handing off plates to the seated guests. And Thad Young brought his two sons, Thad Jr. and Taylor, to help him hand out food. 

Aside from Thad Young, among the eight or so players serving at the event was the recently healthy, Chandler Hutchison, who was impressed by the Bulls’ commitment to the community through the annual event, and grateful to be a part of it.   

“The fact that they’ve (The Bulls) done it for 17 years speaks so much to the dedication that they have,” Hutchison said. “I mean, just seeing the look on their face when you’re handing them out food and they're like, ‘Those are actually the people you know that are playing and they're sitting here, helping us out, taking time out of their day.' It makes me feel good inside to be able to do that.” 

Hutchison saw the event as a small way that he was able to show love to others.  

“It just takes an hour, maybe two hours out of our day, but to them it could mean a lot," he said.  

Also present at the event, was Tomáš Satoranský, who is new to the idea of celebrating Thanksgiving. 

“First of all, I come from Europe, so I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving that much,” Satoranský said. “But it was amazing to see how much good stuff they’re making and how much work is behind it, to serve such great food like that.”  

Satoranský is in for a surprise when the Bulls celebrate Thanksgiving on the road in Portland. The Bulls haven’t given him much insight into what it will entail, other than that “the Chicago Bulls always celebrate it ‘Big Time,’ leaving him in anticipation. A team that makes sure his first Thanksgiving celebration is one to remember, among other things, gives Satoranský a lot to be grateful for this season. 

“I’m thankful for being here, being with the team and my new teammates, belonging in a new family, as well as I have a new baby born who's nine months old — that’s what comes to my mind now," he said. 

Hutchison shared several reasons he is thankful to the Bulls’ organization this Thanksgiving, starting with how they drafted him 22nd overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. 

“I mean really, they drafted me, “he said. “So, let’s start there. I’m thankful to be in this situation and playing with and meeting people throughout the organization and on my team, who care about me, people that I am going to be spending a lot of time with — just a good all-around situation."

Hutchison was asked what he brings to the Thanksgiving “table,” so to speak, or Bulls organization.

“I just try to be someone that’s light-hearted and always kind of in a good mood, bringing energy," he said. "Someone who’s just going to show up, work hard, and not just do what’s required, but do extra. For me, that’s something that I feel like I bring to the table.”

Pacific Garden Mission is the oldest, continuously-operating rescue mission in the country, and has been a refuge for the Chicago community since 1877.

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Michael Jordan professes his love for NASCAR

michael_jordan_ap.jpg
AP

Michael Jordan professes his love for NASCAR

Did you know Michael Jordan is a huge NASCAR fan?

Sunday, Jordan attended the final race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season in Miami. In an interview with NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jordan professed his fandom for the motorsport.

“I’m a big race fan. Started off when I was a kid and I grew up watching [Dale Earnhardt], Richard Petty [and] Cale Yarborough was an original 11 that I remember,” Jordan said. “Now I’m good friends with Denny Hamlin and we go way back. He’s a season ticket holder at the Hornets, and I spend a lot of time playing golf with him and obviously I’m a big NASCAR fan, so I came out to support him.

Jordan added his friendship with Hamlin goes back seven years. Hamlin is a Jordan brand athlete and Jordan owns the Charlotte Hornets, so the two have some ties.

“He’s just gotten better, and my interest in the sport has been there for a long period of time,” Jordan said. “I love watching; I set my clock every Sunday to watch NASCAR and I pay attention.”

Although he’s a big fan of the sport, Jordan said he hasn’t thought about becoming a NASCAR owner.

“I love being a fan,” he said. “I still understand the sport, but in terms of ownership, I think I’m just gonna sit back and watch it and support from afar.”

Watch the full interview:

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