Bulls

Bulls: Fred Hoiberg reflects on Jimmy Butler's 'special' performance

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Bulls: Fred Hoiberg reflects on Jimmy Butler's 'special' performance

With a day to let the adrenaline of a historic 24 minutes wear off, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg went to look back at the film of Jimmy Butler’s 40-point second half that carried the Bulls to victory against the Toronto Raptors.

Usually, one finds unique performances like that to be more special upon reflection, and this was no different.

“You know what, it was a really special performance,” Hoiberg said. “The left-handed runner off the glass, the threes that he hit including that last one that put us up by one, the crazy step-backs, getting himself to the free-throw line, drawing contact, he did a little bit of everything.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

That applies even for the league office. On Butler’s hotly-contested corner 3-pointer that gave the Bulls a 112-111 lead, the NBA determined in its two-minute report that Butler was fouled by Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll, which would’ve given Butler an opportunity for a four-point play and a chance to distance himself from Michael Jordan’s previous scoring record for a half by one more point.

Nevertheless, Hoiberg found himself in a position to abandon whatever his game plan was in the second half once he saw Butler catch fire. Butler was annoyed about an elbow he caught in the mouth in the second quarter from Carroll on a layup that drew blood, and used the extra motivation to get himself going.

“After he got hit in the lip that hit his switch, that hit a nerve with him,” said guard E’Twaun Moore, who played big minutes against Raptors guard Kyle Lowry down the stretch and had a tip-in to tie the game at 109 with 58 seconds left. “He was like, ‘C’mon man, let’s go out and we’ve gotta go out here and fight.’ That’s all he kept saying, and then he came out in the second half and showed it.’’

It left Hoiberg in a spot where he had to feature Butler offensively, and Butler scored on the first three possessions, even the last one where the team “screwed it up”.

“After that, we just made the decision to put the ball in his hands and run ball screens for him in the middle of the floor,” Hoiberg said. “And he made the right play. He made a nice little pass to Pau (Gasol) and got him an easy little shot in the line. It was just about putting the ball in his hands and having the two best players on the floor.”

[MORE: No structural damage on Derrick Rose's knee; Noah still not ready]

Hoiberg should be credited for finding the delicate balance of riding the hot hand—a player who got more and more demonstrative as the game went on—but also keeping the other players involved.

Butler scored 40, but the rest of the Bulls combined for 27 as the Bulls came back from a 15-point deficit.

“I think the unique thing about this team is we've got a lot of guys that can heat up. Some nights it's going to be Pau. Some nights it's going to be Derrick and it has been Derrick, especially down the stretch,” Hoiberg said. “I think we've had some growth in that area with this team. I think that's why our offensive numbers have been a lot better.”

Sometimes, the game is very simple.

Taj Gibson signed with Knicks to be closer to father recovering from heart transplant

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USA TODAY

Taj Gibson signed with Knicks to be closer to father recovering from heart transplant

For as long as he's been in the league, Taj Gibson has been considered one of the ultimate good guys.

That reputation won't be diminished in the slightest considering his reasoning for signing with the New York Knicks this summer.

Many expected the Bulls to make a run at Gibson to back up Lauri Markkanen at power forward. But as it turns out, the Knicks were going to be difficult to beat as a landing spot.

Via Marc Berman of the New York Post, Gibson decided to return home - he grew up in Brooklyn - to be closer to his father who recently underwent a heart transplant.

Gibson said he spent a large portion of June - in the lead-up to free agency - in New York as his father awaited a new heart. Gibson agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Knicks on the first day of free agency, just a few weeks after Wilbert Gibson had successful surgery in June.

The entire article is worth a read, but let us also add an anecdote Gibson shared about one of the first calls he received from a familiar voice.

Gibson knew lots of winning in seven seasons in Chicago — mostly with ex-Knicks assistant Tom Thibodeau. A known taskmaster, Thibodeau brought Gibson to the T’Wolves and knew of Gibson’s dream to one day be a Knick.

“Once I signed with New York, one of the first phone calls I got was from Thibs,” Gibson said. “That’s all we ever talked about throughout my time with Thibs — we always talked about New York.

“For it to finally happen, being able to say I was finally a New York Knick was a crazy feeling. We laughed for a minute. Then he was serious. He was like, ‘If anyone is capable of playing in New York, you’re a New York-style player.’ He knows me that I will play hard every night.”

Report: Former Bulls center Joakim Noah will work out for Los Angeles Lakers

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AP

Report: Former Bulls center Joakim Noah will work out for Los Angeles Lakers

Buckle up, nostalgic Bulls fans of the 2010s. There's a chance Joakim Noah teams up with LeBron James.

That's according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported Tuesday that the Lakers plan to work out Noah - along with two other centers - as they search for replacements for the injured DeMarcus Cousins.

As much as it will pain Bulls fans to hear it, Noah makes the most sense of any players listed above. Howard has a bad back that limited him to nine games last season (and we all know about his first stint with the Lakers), Speights last played in the NBA with the Orlando Magic in 2018, and Gortat played sparingly (47 games, 16.0 minutes) for the Clippers last season.

Noah had a resurgence in Memphis last season, averaging 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in just 16.5 minutes. He'd obviously be an excellent locker-room presence and high-energy defender for a Lakers team that will need it. We also know that the fire in him hasn't run out. Just ask Devin Booker.

James and Noah have a long history of in-game scuffles, and while they undoubtedly have respect for one another, it'd be weird seeing the two team up in the same uniform.

Then again, James and Derrick Rose played together in Cleveland two seasons ago, so how much weirder can it really get?