Bulls: Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson doubtful against Pistons


Bulls: Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson doubtful against Pistons

The Bulls will likely be without two starters Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons as they have a shot to gain critical ground in the race for the final two playoff spots, as Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson are still doubtful with various situations.

The MRI on Rose’s left elbow showed some swelling on the bursa sac and it’s causing the discomfort. Rose did try to go through shootaround but it doesn’t appear things are too dissimilar from where he stood Thursday night, when he was unable to shoot against the Houston Rockets and sat out the second half of their comeback win.

With Detroit’s loss last night to Dallas, there’s a 1.5 game separation between the seventh-seeded Pistons and ninth-seeded Bulls, as a Bulls win would bring them closer to winning the second tie-breaker in terms of divisional records if their records are identical after 82 games.

“He’s still got an awful a lot of soreness in that elbow, having trouble extending it, so we’ll get him a couple treatments throughout the day,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “As of right now, his status really hasn’t changed much from where he was the other night.”

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Although Rose is a right handed shooter, his left arm is used to guide his shots as well as him being a lefty driver to the basket. Never mind all the contact that elbow takes driving through picks and generally shielding himself through natural movements at the rim.

It’s a delicate situation and who knows how the Pistons would guard him, if they would guard him at all, if we were on the floor as a non-entity.

“That’s the thing. More than that, it’s just how effective can he be out there just playing with one arm,” Hoiberg said. “That’s been the dilemma the last couple of games. He wanted to try to keep going the other night, but he just didn’t have much effectiveness without being able to use his left hand, which is really his dominant hand when he’s driving the ball and finishing around the basket.

"So it’s tough with Derrick out with that type of situation. Again, we’ll just continue to give him treatments to get the swelling out of there and get him back as quickly as possible.”

Rose was officially deemed doubtful in the team injury report, along with Gibson, who’s back in his home of New York dealing with a personal matter.

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“It’s really all I can say about it,” Hoiberg said. “He’s trying to work his way back to Chicago right now, and then we’ll make a decision when he gets here.”

If Gibson doesn’t play, either Bobby Portis or Nikola Mirotic will start at power forward, and Gibson is already dealing with a fractured rib he swore he wanted to play through.

But all of that is in doubt, on the morning of the biggest game to date of the season.

“He didn’t get the opportunity to go out there and run around and do a lot of things just physically to test if he would be ready,” Hoiberg said. “So once he does make it back, we’ll test him out and see how he’s doing.”

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 giving 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.

Zach LaVine, Bobby Portis show offensive promise in opener: 'That's what we expect'


Zach LaVine, Bobby Portis show offensive promise in opener: 'That's what we expect'

PHILADELPHIA -- It’s not a surprise to see Zach LaVine leading the Bulls’ offense.

The $78-million man was terrific despite a 127-108 loss to the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday. LaVine poured in 30 points on 11 of 19 from the field.

What may come as a surprise is the brilliance of Bobby Portis. Portis was excellent in his own right, recording 20 points and 11 boards while playing his usual aggressive brand of basketball.

Unfortunately, both players found themselves in foul trouble early in the second half as Philadelphia started to impose its will with a 19-3 run to start the third quarter.

The Bulls got off to a blazing hot start, scoring 41 points in the opening quarter. They trailed by just seven at the half thanks in large part to LaVine and Portis. The duo worked well together in the pick-and-roll, at times confusing the 76ers on how exactly to play it.

“I expect that,” LaVine said when asked about the team’s early offensive output. “That’s what I expect from myself and I know Bobby is right there with me. Bobby had it going and that’s what he’s been doing for the last year or so, too, so that’s what we expect.”

Perhaps the play of Portis shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering his success against Philadelphia in his career. He tallied a career-high 38 points in a one-point loss to the Sixers last season. He’s also shot 55 percent against them for his career in 11 games coming into tonight, his second-highest mark against any team.

With rookie Wendell Carter Jr. struggling in his first NBA start, Portis saw some time at the five, something Hoiberg alluded to as a possibility prior to the game. Portis earned the start in place of the injured Lauri Markkanen with an impressive preseason. His play carried over into opening night.

Portis may not be long for the starting lineup once Markkanen returns, but he certainly showed his worth Thursday.

As for LaVine, he showed flashes of a guy that can be the focal point of an offense. While he had the jumper working, his finishes around the rim were more impressive. Especially when you consider a few of them came against Joel Embiid, the runner up for Defensive Player of the Year last season.

“I love Zach’s attack,” Fred Hoiberg said. “I thought, especially early in the game, he didn’t settle for shots. He was getting around his guy and seeking contact and doing a good job getting to the free throw line.”

The Bulls weren’t expected to win this game and will experience plenty of growing pains this season – especially while the injuries continue to pile up.

What Bulls fans can glean from opening night is that the team’s investment in a healthy LaVine may prove to be money well spent.

 “Yeah, man,” LaVine said after he was asked if he’s feeling healthier than he did last year. “A year after tearing my ACL I feel like I’m back to myself – athletically, speed-wise, quickness. I’ve got my legs under me. I just needed y’all to give me a little bit of time.

“I was about 70 percent last year and I think I did alright. I feel good now. It feels good to be back in my own skin again.”