Bulls

Bulls live to fight another day

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Bulls live to fight another day

Following the Bulls disappointing Game 4 loss to the 76ers Sunday in Philadelphia, none other than second-year center Omer Asik said these words: We will never give up fighting.

Literally and figuratively, the Bulls did just that Tuesday at the United Center, scrapping out an ugly 77-69 win over the Sixers to keep their season alive, all the while battling even more injuries and opposing players alike in a show of heart fitting of a such a blue-collar, albeit short-handed squad, though they still face a 3-2 deficit in the first-round playoff series.

All-Star Luol Deng (24 points, eight rebounds) got off to one of his quick starts, scoring the Bulls first two buckets, but the opening period was mostly devoid of offense, as both squads struggled to put points on the board.

The starting backcourt of C.J. Watson (five points, seven assists) and Rip Hamilton, in particular, had accuracy issues, combining to go 2-for-10 from the floor in the frame, while Carlos Boozer (19 points, 13 rebounds, six assists) was scoreless.

Sixers rookie big man Lavoy Allen (nine points, six rebounds) came off the bench to score six points, helping the visitors take an early lead, though that was mitigated by their six turnovers in the stanza.

A boost of energy from reserves Taj Gibson (eight points, seven rebounds) and Ronnie Brewer (six points, eight rebounds) helped the hosts cause and after a late-period triple from Deng, they took a 17-16 advantage into the second quarter.

The game remained close and scoring was still at a premium, as both defenses clamped downAsik and Gibson were formidable shot-blocking presences on the interiorthough Dengs aggressive approach, combined with timely buckets from his teammates, kept things close. Fan favorite John Lucas III and some offensive contributions from Boozer helped the Bulls obtain some breathing room from the frigid-shooting Sixers.

As if the low-octane game needed some punchliterallyafter a scramble for a loose ball near the Bulls bench, a mild skirmish ensued, resulting in double technical on Gibson and Philadelphia veteran power forward Elton Brand, a former Bull, as well as the United Center crowd raising its energy, along with the diminutive and energetic Lucas. It carried over to the entire squad, as Boozer and Brewer, with the crowd roaring its appreciation, sparked the Bulls late in the first half, sending them into the intermission with an incredibly low-scoring 35-26 lead.

The carry-over effect continued after the break, as the Bulls maintained a double-digit cushion, played with high energy and both Boozer and Deng were offensive focal points. Brewer and Gibson again came off the bench to make key plays at both ends of the floor, but the hosts stifling defenseor depending on how you look at it, the guests floundering offensewas what was crucial in keeping the Sixers at bay, despite point guard Jrue Holiday (16 points, five rebounds, four assists), All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala (11 points), center Spencer Hawes (11 points, 14 rebounds) and sixth man Lou Williams (13 points) finally starting to emerge.

Amazingly, the injury bug hit the short-handed Bulls once again, as Gibson, after stepping on Allens foot, went down clutching his right ankle with 2:06 left in the third quarter and while he got to his feet under his own power, he hobbled over to the bench and was then helped to the locker room by the teams training staff for treatment, though hed eventually be cleared to return to the contest.

Still, with Boozer continuing to do damage, the Bulls entered the final stanza with a 57-48 edge.

Boozer continued to carry the offensive load at the outset of the fourth quarter and got help from Asik, who anchored the Bulls defense, which continued to frustrate the offensively-devoid Sixers. Deng then stepped up, draining two dagger triplesboth of which were followed by Holiday jumperscontributing to the hosts lead ballooning to as much as 15 and with Gibsons return to the court, the home crowd was in euphoria midway through the period.

As the game entered its stretch run, with Gibson hobbling and the offense starting to bog down, the Bulls were playing against two foes: Philadelphia and the clock, but as happened so many times during the regular season, they simply found a way, with a jumper from Watson and a steal from Brewer among the plays that kept them ahead.

A Deng three-pointer with 1:32 remaining, giving the Bulls a 12-point lead, effectively sealed the deal, despite a last-gasp effort by the Sixers, extending the series to a sixth game Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr. grabbed some attention when he remarked that he was "perfect fit for today's NBA game" during an appearance on The Will Cain Show.

The interview went a long way towards showing off the uber-confident nature of Porter, who has consistently talked about being the best player in his class throughout the draft process. Porter also remarked that he was "an immediate impact guy," and that he "doesn't want it to take long to be one of the best players in the NBA."

His hubris has been intruiging considering the mystery surrounding the prospect.

During the interview Porter added that he would be open to doing more workouts for NBA front offices ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft. The only workout he has completed so far was his pro day workout in Chicago, and multiple reports have cited that Porter did look good shooting, though he was in an isolated setting with no defenders.

The one thing Porter has not done much throughout the process is talk about his weaknesses, which is somewhat concerning seeing as he has much to improve on. The general consensus is that a healthy Porter can get buckets at will. But if he can improve his ball-handling, rebounding and passing skills, he will be much more than a go-to scorer. Tightening his ball-handling skills is likely the key, as the ability to grab the rebound and push in transition would be a huge boon for Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The biggest question when it comes to Porter on the Bulls is can he fit with Lauri Markkanen? Despite receiving many favorable Kevin Durant and Paul George comparisons leading up to the draft, there is a rising sentiment that his best position in the NBA may be the power forward spot. It is not yet known if he has the foot speed to stay in front of quicker wings in today's NBA. But at six-feet-ten-inches, it is easy to imagine him having a huge advantage against slower power forwards rather than wings. While Markkanen is not currently built to be a full-time center, playing him at the five with Porter at the four would present Hoiberg with a potentially devastating closing lineup.

Versatility is the name of the game in today's league, and Michael Porter Jr. may be the key to unlocking the full potential of Hoiberg's pace-and-space attack. 

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

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USA TODAY

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

Just two years after being drafted in the second round, Paul Zipser told German media that he doesn’t see the Bulls wanting him next season.

The Bulls have until mid-July to pick up Zipser's option.

"I would not be surprised if they no longer want me.” Zipser said in German and translated via Google Translate

“Actually, I'm pretty sure I will not play in Chicago soon.”

Last month, Zipser had surgery on his fractured left foot, in his native country of Germany, which grew speculation the Bulls wouldn’t pick up his player option for next season. Zipser said the surgery "went perfectly."

Zipser showed some flashes of potential in his rookie season, averaging 5.5 per game and 2.8 rebounds in 44 games. But this past season, he played more games, but injuries derailed him from improving his overall production. He finished with four points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including 12 starts.

Zipser explained that things changed from his first year to his second year.

“They were very varied," Zipser said. "The first year was just going very well. I fought my way into the team from the beginning and showed how I can help the team. The Bulls just needed someone like me. That's why it worked so well. We benefited from each other - that's why we were successful.”

“That was very different. It was not right from the beginning, and I was already struggling with my injury. It was not quite clear what it is. If you have pain in your foot, you automatically go down a bit with intensity. You just do not want to hurt yourself and be completely out. It was then difficult for me to keep my head in the sport - I did not manage that well. Nevertheless, the injury should not be an excuse.”

Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Zipser might not dress up in a Bulls uniform next year.