Bulls launch 39 triples, open Hoiberg Era with preseason win over Bucks


Bulls launch 39 triples, open Hoiberg Era with preseason win over Bucks

It was ugly and intense in all the ways one would expect of two teams separated by only an expressway and experience, in a first preseason game.

But despite all that familiarity, there was something different about the Bulls’ exhibition opener.

Namely, the 3-pointers.

They came from the top, the wings, the corners, and they came fast in their 105-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday at the United Center.

Of course, long-term prognostications are useless based on a preseason opener where both teams are merely happy to stop bumping and banging with their teammates, but the Bulls have preached to any and everybody that their product would look different under Fred Hoiberg than his predecessor, Tom Thibodeau.

And in the first morsel of the Hoiberg Era, the Bulls attempted 39 triples, and despite missing 11 of their first 12, they kept shooting. Aside from Joakim Noah and Cristiano Felicio, every participant who played more than two minutes launched at least two.

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It didn’t yield great results initially, as the Bulls went 3-for-20 in the first half, then 10-for-19 in the second half against a defense not nearly as stingy. Hoiberg didn’t hesitate when asked if 39 attempts would be the norm this season.

“If they’re open and they’re good looks, yeah,” he said. “Once we get Pau (Gasol) out there, we’ll have more of a post presence. Doug (McDermott) got it going in the second half, which was great to see him get that ball in the basket.”

McDermott put up a whopping 11 attempts, and after rushing the first three shots, he settled in the second half to hit five, accounting for 18 of his 23 points.

“For him to come out and continue to shoot was a great sign,” Hoiberg said. “He might’ve put his head down in the past.”

A matchup against the team the Bulls had a chippy series with this past spring produced its share of moments, albeit fleeting, as the Bucks rolled out their impressive collection of youthful talent and defensive length that seems to cover every bit of available space in the half court.

Rookie guard Rashad Vaughn scored 20 in 35 minutes, while free agent addition Greg Monroe scored six in 17 minutes, putting both Noah and rookie Bobby Portis in a blender with spin moves for layups on separate occasions.

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The Bulls offense didn’t get going until the Bucks sat their starters after halftime, and the Bulls feasted to score 40 in the third quarter to make the overall number look respectable. The difference in ball movement and pace was noticeable, even when the shots weren’t falling.

“Second half I thought our pace was better. Early on, we were lagging,” Hoiberg said. “Then we got the ball out and moving. Generally good things happen. Overall first game, especially in the second half I liked what I saw.”

Jimmy Butler didn’t attempt that many 3-pointers but found every other way to score, putting up 23 and playing with regular-season intensity, getting into a competitive go-round with emerging swingman Khris Middleton, who scored 10 in 17 minutes.

Butler caught himself on the unfortunate end of a Middleton poster, when he sized Middleton up on the fast break but couldn’t quite get a blocked shot when Middleton cupped it and jammed it, much to the buzz of the United Center crowd.

The turnovers were plentiful, but the effort and intensity will likely be to Hoiberg’s contentment, especially as Portis seemed to agitate everyone wearing green on the glass, grabbing 14 rebounds in 24 minutes.

Ugly it was, and the Bulls will take the game tape to find some positives among the muck — then they’ll likely burn it.

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

The NBA preseason has finished and teams are finalizing their rosters before the beginning of the regular season.

For the Bulls, that meant claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers and signing him to a two-way contract.

The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported the move.

Ulis, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, was waived by the Warriors on Friday. He spent two years at Kentucky before getting drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2016.

In two years with the Suns, Ulis made 58 starts and played in 132 games. He averaged just over 7 points per game in both seasons. Last season, Ulis also averaged 4.4 assists per game against 1.8 turnovers in 23.4 minutes per game.

The Suns waived Ulis after the season and the Warriors signed him for the preseason. He averaged 3 points and 1.5 assists per game in four preseason games with the Warriors.

The two-way contract means Ulis could be spending more time with the Windy City Bulls than at the United Center on game days, but backup point guard is a question mark for the Bulls. Cam Payne looks like he will get first crack at the role behind Kris Dunn with Denzel Valentine injured. Ryan Arcidiacono just made the team and could also figure into point guard minutes.

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Cuts during the NBA preseason aren’t exactly as gut-wrenching and tension-filled as they are in the NFL. NBA teams cut from somewhere in the late teens down to 15, and the potential for two-way contracts exist for those players who don’t make the roster. But for Ryan Arcidiacono, Saturday was filled with angst as he waited for a call. It never came.

“I was thinking about it. It’s like Hard Knocks when you’re watching. You don’t want to get that phone call,” Arcidiacono said Sunday before practice. “I was just thinking to myself after the game (Friday), nobody said anything to me. I was talking to (assistant) Pete (Myers) and he said, ‘Just get outta here, man. I’ll see you at practice on Sunday.’ I was still a little nervous on Friday night. Saturday morning I felt better after I talked to my agent and everything became more official.”

It’s quite the journey for Arcidiacono, who spent time both with the Bulls and their G-League affiliate in Hoffman Estates last season. In 37 starts with the Windy City Bulls, Arcidiacono averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 assists in 39.6 minutes. His two longest stints in Chicago came in late January and at the end of the year, and that 24-game audition was enough for the Bulls to re-sign him in July.

Arcidiacono found more comfort this summer in Year 2 with the Bulls. Though his playing time in the preseason was limited he showed enough in camp to warrant a spot on the roster. It also helped that the Bulls find themselves thin at the point guard position behind Kris Dunn, with Cameron Payne struggling and Denzel Valentine on the mend with an ankle injury.

“I think last year really helped me with the two-way, getting acclimated with what Fred wants to do,” he said. “I think getting up and down with the G League. (Head coach) Charlie (Henry) really helped me a lot. Knowing our point guard situation, I just tried to be the hardest playing guy on the floor anytime I step on and the rest will take care of itself.”

It’s unknown whether Arcidiacono’s stint in Chicago will last. His contract will be guaranteed on January 10. He’s an important body for now with Lauri Markkanen out for the foreseeable future and Valentine still recovering from his own injury. But he’ll also have the opportunity to push Payne for that back-up role. Payne struggled much of the preseason, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 assists on just 25 percent shooting.

“Arci has done a lot of really good things,” Hoiberg said. “I liked the way he looked in the game the other night off the ball. Defensively, made some really good solid plays and again, when there’s an open man on the court Arci’s gonna find him.”

He won’t move the needle on the Bulls’ season, and his minutes will likely be minimal once the season begins. But for now it’s a great story of persistence that gives the Bulls another hard-working body in practice.”

“Whatever our team needs, that’s what they’ll get from me,” he said. “Whether that’s being a backup or the third point guard spot, I’m just here to compete and make our team better and hopefully get us some victories.”