Bulls

Bulls go up 2-0 on Bucks thanks to big game from Jimmy Butler

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Bulls go up 2-0 on Bucks thanks to big game from Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler motioned for a posting Nikola Mirotic to get out of the way, giving the appearance he was headed to the basket when in reality, he just wanted a better view of the basket.

Perhaps feeling the energy in the building after he was cascaded with MVP chants midway through the fourth, he launched a classic “bad shot, good shot” that fell, three of his 14 fourth-quarter points as the Bulls began to pull away Monday night.

What began as a classic letdown game ended with the Bulls surviving and putting themselves halfway to the second round with a 91-82 win at the United Center, taking a 2-0 lead while holding serve at home.

What did they survive? Well, let’s see.

An 11-point first quarter, a game where Derrick Rose started 0-for-7 and Butler missed his first six three-point attempts.

There’s more.

They survived Taj Gibson, one of the unsung heroes in the opener, picking up three fouls in five minutes, rendering himself useless in the first half.

[WATCH: Butler puts Pachulia on poster with huge dunk]

And of their 15 turnovers, seven occurred in the first quarter when they couldn’t get anything going.

All of that was forgotten when Rose, who rebounded to hit four of his last eight to score 15 with nine assists and seven rebounds in 38 minutes, hit a step-back contested jumper with 54.5 seconds remaining to finally close the door on a Bucks’ threat.

The headliner on this night was Butler, who scored a playoff career-high 31 points (21 in the second half), after initially setting that mark with 25 in the opener. Two of his points in the fourth came on a rim-rattling dunk over Bucks center Zaza Pachulia

“That one dunk was definitely huge. It gave us some confidence as a team,” Noah said. “After that he was really feeling himself.”

That was the flash, but the substance occurred minutes earlier when the Bulls actually trailed 74-71 early in the fourth as the Bucks went on a 6-0 run to start the period, before Butler launched his first of three made triples to tie the game.

“We wanted him to work the game,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought he had good shots (early). The movement was better in the second half.”

He tattooed his name on the fourth quarter by scoring 10 in a 13-0 Bulls run over the next three minutes.

[MORE: Tensions rise in Game 2 between Bucks, Bulls]

“I was just being aggressive. Jo and Derrick were telling me to score,” Butler said. “Telling me to shoot and not to pass up any shots. I was feeling it a little bit.”

Bucks coach Jason Kidd intimated the game was too pretty in the opener, words seem to foreshadow what was to come, when he said the Bucks’ early scoring in Game 1 was “fool’s gold”, and aside from Khris Middleton scoring 22, offense was hard to come by for the Bucks, who shot just 36 percent from the field.

The Bucks challenged everything from the start, though, getting up in the Bulls’ faces from the moment they crossed halfcourt. And when the Bulls actually had the space to create or execute, they either saw ghosts or lost concentration, unable to take advantage of any opening.

“The game was like we wanted it in the first quarter,” Kidd said. “It was at our pace — ugly and slow.”

It led to the Bulls shooting just 24 percent in the first quarter, creating the vision that a letdown could be forthcoming.

Luckily, they dragged the Bucks in the muck with them, not allowing the inexperienced team to get too far ahead. They controlled the boards, as Noah grabbed 19 in 32 minutes and Gasol didn’t let the endless double-teams discourage him, grabbing 16 rebounds in 33 minutes to help the Bulls to a 64-48 edge.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

There was plenty of muck, as both teams realized the pleasantries of the regular season was no longer necessary, as there were multiple skirmishes, resulting with an ejection for Bucks irritant Zaza Pachulia in the fourth quarter after an altercation with Mirotic—which could have consequences as Mirotic sustained a left quad strain and there’s concern about a possible concussion.

“It’s an emotional game,” Thibodeau said. “I want us to play with toughness but I also want us to play smart. So where do you stop? You stop right before it becomes physical.”

It wasn’t going to last long, as the Bulls were due for some execution, and scored 60 points in the two middle quarters—with a lot of help from Mike Dunleavy, who helped loosen up the Bucks defense with four three-pointers, including two late in the first half as the Bulls were reeling a bit.

But reeling a bit only matters but so much if you have closers on your side to take care of things late—the Bulls were just fortunate things didn’t get too far out of their reach on this night.

Bulls not a part of Anthony Davis-to-the-Lakers trade, but it could have an effect on the draft

Bulls not a part of Anthony Davis-to-the-Lakers trade, but it could have an effect on the draft

Farewell, Lonzo Ball-to-the-Bulls rumors.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday evening that the Los Angeles Lakers have finally acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, and the deal doesn't include a third team.

In exchange for Davis, a six-time All-Star about to enter his prime, the Pelicans recieved Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and three first round picks, including the No. 4 pick in next week's NBA Draft.

There was some speculation - also reported by Woj - that a third team would need to get involved in order to satisfy what Pelicans GM David Griffin was looking for in a package for Davis.

Though the Bulls were never directly connected in reports as a potential third team, it made sense considering they own the No. 7 pick and have a need at point guard.

There was also some speculation - though, again, never concrete news or reports - that Zach LaVine could have been an option in a deal, with the Bulls acquiring the No. 4 pick.

Alas, the Bulls aren't part of the deal. But it still may have an effect on them.

The Pelicans now own the Nos. 1 and 4 picks in next week's draft. They're obviously going to take Duke forward Zion Williamson with the first pick but now have options at No. 4. Whereas the Lakers had been linked to Vanderbilt poing guard Darius Garland, the Pelicans really don't have a need there with Ball and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt.

That, in theory, could bump Garland down to No. 6 and the Phoenix Suns, which would then free up the Bulls to take North Carolina's Coby White at No. 7.

Wojnarowski also reported that teams are still inquiring about the No. 4 pick from the Pelicans. It's unlikely the Bulls would depart with LaVine though maybe they could put together some sort of package to move up from No. 7.

What's more likely is the Bulls keep their assets intact in such a weak draft class and move forward with the best player available on the board at No. 7.

But it's officially Woj Bomb season, so buckle up. As is the case every NBA offseason, anything can and will happen.

NBC Sports Boston's Trade Bot comes up with Kris Dunn-Terry Rozier trade

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USA TODAY

NBC Sports Boston's Trade Bot comes up with Kris Dunn-Terry Rozier trade

The NBA landscape is getting ready to undergo a dramatic makeover this offseason, with the vast number of free agents and the volatility of the 2019 draft class. While the Bulls and Boston Celtics are two teams that could have much different views of success next season, they also could be ideal trade partners. Our partners at NBC Sports Boston laid out an intriguing trade offer that certainly got Celtics fans talking.

The NBC Sports Boston “Trade Bot 3000” came up with a scenario in which Danny Ainge targets Bulls guard Kris Dunn.

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This does not come as a huge shock, as GM Danny Ainge has had a liking for Dunn’s game dating back to the 2016 NBA Draft, when he reportedly almost traded then-Celtic Isaiah Thomas fior a lottery pick to select Dunn. Of course since then things have changed quite a bit, as Dunn has failed to develop into a real threat from the perimeter and his great defensive effort has been dragged down by foul troubles (4.3 fouls per 36 minutes).

NBC Sports Boston’s Trade Bot pointed out that Boston would be receiving the New London, Connecticut native with a full season before he is set to hit restricted free agency (2020-21). Dunn’s team-friendly contract would make sense for a Celtics team that is unlikely to have any functional cap space this offseason. And even in the event that the Celtics do create near max cap space, that would likely mean that guards Terry Rozier and Kyrie Irving are no longer on the roster.

Dunn would be a solid option as a starter or backup guard for a new-look Celtics squad that would be built around feeding Jayson Tatum plenty of looks, much more than the 13.1 field goal attempts per game that he averaged over the 2018-19 season. Dunn’s usage rate dropped a significant amount last season and his offensive rating improved as a result of him using less possessions. I would expect that trend to continue under Brad Stevens, who would find more creative ways to keep Dunn involved on offense.

It is simple to see how the trade would be appealing from the Bulls perspective. Though incredibly similar prospects, Rozier presents a greater threat from the 3-point line as compared to Dunn.

He is by no means a knockdown shooter, but the fact that “Scary Terry” has taken 6.3 attempts from 3-point range per 36 minutes (for his career per Basketball-Reference)  definitely matters.

Defenses will have to account for Rozier when he is on the floor, making him a nice partner for LaVine on the offensive end of the floor. But again, Rozier would not be a savior at the PG position. He has many of the same flaws as Dunn, such as generating a tremendously low amount of free throw attempts. As we all know, a fresh start can do wonders for a young player and a trade of this nature would allow the Bulls to add Rozier, while giving him the true maximum salary that only the Celtics would be able to offer.

To make matters even better for Chicago, the Bulls would be collecting a second round pick as well for swapping a player on a rookie deal for a player who is due for a significant raise. One last interesting nugget on a possible Dunn-for-Rozier trade is that the two guards are actually one day apart age-wise. They are at a similar stage in their careers/development, to the point where it would be tough to say which team won the trade.

Let us know how you would feel about NBC Sports Boston Trade Bot’s Dunn-for-Rozier swap at @BullsTalk!