Bulls

Bulls: Dwyane Wade's top five performances at the United Center

Bulls: Dwyane Wade's top five performances at the United Center

Dwyane Wade has always been one to put on a show, and doing so in his hometown has been no exception during his 13-year NBA career. Now Wade will play half his games in Chicago, after agreeing to a two-year, $47.5 million deal on Wednesday. He’s bound to put up masterful performances inside the United Center, so here’s a look back at his five best to date:

5. Feb 2008: 30 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 11-21 FG

In the midst of the Heat’s worst regular season in franchise history – one that landed them the No. 2 pick and Michael Beasley – Wade did his best to lead a second-half charge on the road against a Bulls team that would wind up picking first the following year (drafting Derrick Rose). The Chicago native scored 19 points and dished out three assists in the second half, playing all 24 minutes. Ultimately his efforts came up short in a seven-point loss.

4. May 2011: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals

Wade’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals he and LeBron James led an incredible comeback in the fourth quarter to close the series. Miami trailed by 12 with 3:14 to play on the road, the Heat closed on an 18-3 run that included eight points from Wade, including a crucial four-point play. He also assisted on a LeBron James triple the previous possession, and two Chris Bosh free throws gave the Heat an 83-80 lead before James blocked Derrick Rose on the final attempt. Wade wasn’t great for the first 45 minutes, and he committed nine turnovers, but his talent was on full display down the stretch.

3. March 2012: 36 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 16-26 FG

Wade’s highest scoring total at the United Center came in a loss, but he almost turned it into a win with a ridiculous fourth quarter. Miami trailed by 11 heading into the final stanza when Wade turned it on, scoring 19 points in a 21-point span for the Heat (LeBron James scored the other two) that cut the deficit to four with 1:22 remaining. He missed a triple in the closing minute that would have cut the deficit to just one, and Kyle Korver free throws essentially iced the game.

2. January 2016: 28 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists,

With the Heat having lost six straight, and missing Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic, Wade put the team on his back in an important win. With Miami trailing 82-81 with 3:31 to play, Wade scored or assisted on the Heat’s final eight points to push them to a five-point win. His 28 points were more than he had scored in a month, and he committed just one turnover in 35 minutes against a Bulls team that had just gone wire-to-wire in a win over the Cavaliers.

1. January 2011: 33 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4-7 3FG

The two Chicago kids went at it in the fourth quarter of a game where the Heat were without LeBron James and lost Chris Bosh in the second half. Derrick Rose and Wade went back and fourth in the final minutes, beginning with a Rose layup to give the Bulls a five-point lead inside two minutes. Wade connected on a 3, with Rose answering with a three-point play after getting fouled on a jumper. Wade then hit two more triples on consecutive possessions to give Miami the lead with 37 seconds left. A Kyle Korver triple allowed the Bulls to escape with the win, but Wade’s solo act in the final minutes were yet another reminder of just how deadly he can be down the stretch. Now he’ll get to do the same for his hometown team.

 

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

We all know what Zach LaVine is capable of doing on the offensive side of things. But what about his defense?

It's no secret that LaVine has had his fair share of struggles on defense, but Kris Dunn thinks highly of his 23-year-old teammate and what his potential is at the other end.

"On the defensive end I just told him, 'You're as fast as me. You're more athletic than me. There's no way you shouldn't be a good defender in this league. You could be one of those guys who could be dynamic in the passing lanes because you're so athletic and fast.'" Dunn said of LaVine. "And personally, I like to score. If you get in a passing lane, that's a dunk for yourself and because you've got so much bounce that's when you get the crowd on their feet — maybe do a windmill, a 360, something.

"But I think he's been going a good job on the defensive end. It's not going to be easy. We all got to learn and I think we're all trying."

Improving his defense would obviously be a big step forward for LaVine (and the Bulls), and he knows it. 

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” LaVine said when assessing his preseason. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’

LaVine and the Bulls travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Thursday night in their season opener. You can watch Bulls Pre- and Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago before and after the game for highlights and analysis.

Trust the Rookie: Wendell Carter Jr. draws Opening Night start against Joel Embiid, Sixers

Trust the Rookie: Wendell Carter Jr. draws Opening Night start against Joel Embiid, Sixers

In a five-game span Wendell Carter Jr. saw preseason action against Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Myles Turner. The 19-year-old rookie had his share of expected ups and downs but performed well enough that Fred Hoiberg officially announced him a starter for the team’s season opener tomorrow night.

His reward for all that hard work? A matchup against All-Pro center Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’ll be an eye-opening experience for the Duke product, who just a year ago was readying himself for his first season of college basketball and a season-opening matchup against Elon. It’s safe to assume Embiid will pose a few more problems than did Phoenix center Tyler Seibring.

“Joel Embiid was one of my role models growing up,” Embiid said before practice Wednesday. “He was someone I always wanted to pattern my game after. Just to go up against him is a remarkable feeling. He’s a very physical player. He’s a very talented player. I’m going to be able to stack up and see what all I need to work on to last in this league.”

While it’s no easy task against a talent like Embiid, who was named All-NBA Second Team last season, Carter’s most important job will be staying out of foul trouble. Carter piggy-backed an impressive Summer League with a preseason that included averages of 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in 21.1 minutes. But those numbers also included 7.7 fouls per 48 minutes. He racked up 17 fouls in five games, and had at least three in each.

Embiid only went to the line five times in Tuesday’s season-opening loss to the Celtics, but that was primarily against Defensive Player of the Year candidate Al Horford. Embiid won’t face as much resistance against Carter, putting the pressure on the rookie to stay on the floor.

“He’s going to have to navigate that without using his hands,” Fred Hoiberg said. “We have to be all five aware. It’s just not a one-man problem with Embiid. We have to have great awareness of him and try and mix up coverages and hopefully make him take tough shots, knowing that he’s going to hit some of those. You just can’t get deflated when he does.’’

The decision was a mere formality – Bobby Portis will start at power forward – after the frontcourt combination played considerably better in the Bulls’ final two preseason games. Though Jabari Parker was initially slotted in at power forward following Lauri Markkanen’s elbow sprain, Portis’ impressive preseason forced Hoiberg’s hand. Portis averaged 17.0 points and 5.8 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field in just 22.4 minutes.

“It’s all about combinations out there and we felt like Bobby gave us a great start with the way he was playing,” Hoiberg said. “And then we kind of changed things up with that second unit and put the ball in Jabari’s hands, so it was more that in trying to get guys out there with the right combinations.”

Lopez may have an expanded role if Carter gets into foul trouble early, while Parker will be the facilitator on a second unit that doesn’t have much in the way of a point guard. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the frontcourt will play out once Markkanen returns in roughly a month; if Portis and Carter continue playing well, Hoiberg could opt to keep them together on the second unit and put Lopez back in the starting lineup.

But for at least Opening Night – the Bulls also get Andre Drummond and the Pistons on Saturday – it’ll be the seventh overall pick getting his NBA feet wet with a matchup against arguably the best center in basketball. But’s it a role he’s earned, and on a Bulls defense looking for any sort of improvement, Carter is the player who can anchor it.

“His defense is always going to be important for us. He’s the guy that’s the anchor in that starting unit at the rim,” Hoiberg said, “and he’s done a really solid job of making perimeter guys taking contested shots when he gets switched off, or staying vertical at the rim and trying to make a big finish over the top of him, so yeah, again it’s a great challenge, great opportunity for Wendell.”