Bulls

Bulls to exercise caution with Hamilton

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Bulls to exercise caution with Hamilton

Richard Hamilton returned to the Bulls starting lineup on Tuesday after having missed 13 straight games while rehabbing from a bothersome thighgroin injury.

Hamilton played just under 17 minutes, scored five points on 2 of 5 shooting to go along with two rebounds and two assists.

First time out after an extended time off, there was some good and some not so good, said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on his assessment of the veteran guards performance.

Rips a very intelligent player. I thought he was trying to fit in. His play-making was very good. He had a few turnovers, which is to be expected.

Hamilton had only managed to play in 11 games going into Tuesday nights win against the New Orleans Hornets and was eager to finally rejoin his teammates back on the floor.

Its hard, its tough because this is what you do and Ive been doing this for a long time, said Hamilton. You want to be out there. You miss competing against guys so it was missed, it was frustrating, it was hard, but Im happy to be back.

It was evident from the start, just how different of a team they are with him in the lineup as Chicago jumped ahead by 10 points in the first quarter before Thibodeau subbed him out with 3:36 remaining in the quarter.

He takes pressure off of people, creates easy offense because you have to pay a lot of attention to him, said Thibodeau. Even if hes not shooting the ball, defenses have to commit to him coming off of screens and it creates easy scoring opportunities for others. Defensively, I thought he was solid and its something to build on. Its a base-line for him and well keep adding as we go forward.

Hamilton noted that the plan was to play him eight minutes at the start of the first and third quarters, just to assess where he is conditioning-wise and build up his minutes going forward.

He also said that he felt no pain afterwards, but its unclear if his playing time will follow the same format Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Its so hard to read because hes been out so long, said Thibodeau. We just wanted to sort of get a baseline of where he is. We want to go step-by-step with him.

Its step-by-step and well see how he feels. He hasnt had any setbacks, going from the shooting and non-contact, to adding contact and this is the next step. If hes fine, he goes.

Added Hamilton: Thats the biggest thing; dont try to play too many minutes because theres still a lot of games left. Were just trying to get a gauge of it, every game.

I just have to listen to my body. Im stubborn when it comes to that, he continued. I just want to play. I just want to get out there and play the whole game but thats not the case now. I just have to take my time and get out there and get in the swing of things.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, See Red Fred joins Big Dave and Matt Peck. The guys talk about some big plays down the stretch by Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine. Plus a great defensive job by Kris Dunn on Paul George. (1:30) See Red Fred states his case for more playing time for Denzel Valentine. (4:00) Plus what's going to happen when Otto Porter and Chandler Hutchison come back. (8:00) The guys share some concerns about Coby White in the short term. (10:30) See Red Fred tells you about 3 players who have exceeded expectations this year. (13:00) Plus the guys debate whether Zach LaVine should compete in the dunk contest or 3 point competition. (18:00) They discuss the impact that Kris Dunn has had on the defensive end of the floor. (20:30) Plus See Red Fred lays out his blueprint for the Bulls to make the playoffs. (23:30) Plus the guys make a wager regarding the rest of the season. (25:00)
 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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Bulls down Clippers, post 1st victory over winning team with strong finish

Bulls down Clippers, post 1st victory over winning team with strong finish

Just over two hours before tipoff, in his first public comments since Media Day, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson talked about how Jim Boylen’s teaching and coaching hasn’t always translated from the practice floor and film room to games.

Could the Bulls’ first victory this season over a winning team be a step?

And don’t mention that the Clippers played without Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams in the Bulls’ 109-106 victory, secured on Zach LaVine’s three-point play with 2 seconds to play.

“Well, we didn’t have (Otto Porter Jr.) or Hutch (Chandler Hutchison) or (Daniel) Gafford,” Boylen said. “So we can ‘Yeah, but’ it a little bit too.”

Bravado aside, there’s stuff on which the Bulls can build here.

LaVine posted his sixth 30-point game and ended a week filled with closing misses with a game-winner in which he powered through a Montrezl Harrell foul on a nice misdirection play involving Kris Dunn. Lauri Markkanen tied his season-high with 17 rebounds while posting his third double-double of the season. Denzel Valentine, playing all but two seconds of the fourth, hit a huge tying 3-pointer in the final minute and scored a season-high 16 points. Thad Young tied his season-high with 17 points.

And Dunn was everywhere, relishing the challenge of guarding Paul George down the stretch and winning a crucial battle for a 50-50 ball that led to Valentine’s tying shot.

“That was a huge moment,” Boylen said.

So was Valentine closing a game.

“I just thought we needed some more shooting on the floor,” Boylen said. “We’ve wrestled with defensive lineups, offensive lineups. We try to mingle them a little bit. I just thought we needed someone to make a big shot. And he did.”

Valentine has now scored in double figures off the bench in five of six games.

“I’m very confident in my abilities,” Valentine said. “I was just waiting for the ball to come my way. Zach is our best player. So the ball’s going to be in his hands. But shoot, I’m ready for it. I love those moments. I love to make those shots.”

Dunn, who finished a plus-22, defended George as he missed a good look for a tying 3-pointer. George scored 10 points in just over 7 minutes in the fourth but missed all three attempts following Valentine’s tying shot.

“I love it,” Dunn said of guarding great players. “I know my niche on this team is to guard. And I take pride in that. It feels good to go against a big-time player and be able to get stops towards the end.”

Markkanen actually received credit for the rebound that Dunn kept alive to lead to Valentine’s tying shot, which Dunn said Markkanen teased him about. Dunn finished with nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals.

But his two biggest plays didn’t even crash the box score. He won the 50-50 ball to lead to Valentine’s tying shot and then confused the Clippers’ defense by slipping a screen on LaVine’s game-winner.

“I knew Zach was going to get downhill,” Dunn said. “Because once I did it, I saw Paul George look at me.”

LaVine couldn’t believe how much space he had to operate.

“I’ll take it,” he said. “Once I saw the lane open up, I think there were like 5 seconds left. We were trying to get the last shot. But once the lane opened up, I tried to get a one-on-one. He’s a tough dude. I knew I could attack his body.”

LaVine missed game-winning attempts on an isolation 3-pointer against the Warriors and over a double-team against the Raptors. His three-point play offered a dose of redemption for a player who is never afraid to fail.

“You’re not going to be perfect. As much as people are going to show more of the bad than the good, I’ve had a lot of good times in the clutch as well,” LaVine said. “I try to make the right play for us to win. And I did that tonight.”

For one night, matters were more positive. The Bulls closed out a game against a good team and received multiple contributions while doing so.

Heck, Boylen even downplayed Paxson’s vote of confidence.

“We understand what we’re trying to do. We’re in step on what we’re asking our guys to do and play like and work like and care like,” the coach said. “I’m thankful for it. But I wouldn’t expect anything less.”