Bulls

Bulls look to avenge ugly loss on CSN

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Bulls look to avenge ugly loss on CSN

The Bulls have won a season-high three straight games at the United Center and will look to avenge perhaps their worst loss of the year when they take on Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Bobcats tonight at home. Coverage begins at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live, hosted by Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill.
Having lost two of its last three at home, Chicago entered its Dec. 31 matchup with the Bobcats expecting a win. Charlotte had lost 18 straight games, spanning longer than a month, and just two of their seven wins had come on the road.
But the Bulls would wind up shooting 35 percent from the field, committing 11 turnovers and shooting 61 percent from the free throw line in an embarrassing 91-81 loss. Walker went for 18 points and Gerald Henderson added 16 of his own, but the game was more indicative of the Bulls' tendency to disappear offensively at times, and hit rock bottom before the calendar turned to 2013.
RELATED: Bulls stunned by Bobcats on New Year's Eve
The Bulls would bounce back after that loss, winning seven of their next nine and pushing themselves to the top of the Central Division. Yet inconsistency has continued to plague Tom Thibodeau's group, and again the team will have to rebound from an ugly loss -- an 86-73 loss in Washington -- to maintain their lead atop the division.
The Bulls are 13-3 following a loss this season, and with the Bobcats entering tonight having lost eight of their last 10, it's a good bet that the Bulls won't be looking past the Bobcats as they look to get back on track.
While Luol Deng (hamstring) may miss his sixth straight game, All-Star reserve Joakim Noah is making the NBA coaches who voted him in look good. In the two games since he was named to his first All-Star game, Noah has averaged 11.5 points, 16.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists. Saturday he missed a triple-double by one assist, and he'll look to rebound after being held to two points and four rebounds in the Charlotte loss earlier in the season.
Along with Bobcats owner Michael Jordan making his annual trip back to Chicago for the game, there are also a handful of other Bulls-Bobcats connections for those making their return to the United Center: Shooting guard Ben Gordon, power forward Tyrus Thomas, assistant coach Rick Brunson and scout Dickie Simpkins.
See if the Bulls can make it four straight at the United Center when they take on the Bobcats tonight on Comcast SportsNet. And make sure to stay up-to-date with all the happenings on social media by checking out Bulls Pulse.

NBA 2K19 ratings boost for Wendell Carter, Antonio Blakeney and Zach LaVine

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USA TODAY

NBA 2K19 ratings boost for Wendell Carter, Antonio Blakeney and Zach LaVine

In the latest NBA 2K19 update, Wendell Carter, Antonio Blakeney and Zach LaVine and former Bulls Derrick Rose received significant boosts in their overall rating. 

Rose was the biggest riser throughout the entire game this week, moving up +5 points to  an 80 overall. He has shown the explosiveness he was known for in the past—to some degree—and has coupled that with a much improved jumps hot. 

Chicago rookies Carter and Blakeney saw the biggest improvement among Bulls players, both getting a +3 bump in their rating.

Blakeney is now a 72 overall and Carter now sits at a 79 overall, making the Duke product one of the best rookies in NBA 2K19. Blakeney has always been a dynamite scorer but he is now starting to improve his efficiency, making him a dependable rotation player. And Carter has been incredibly steady for the Bulls—specifically on defense—to the point where he can undoubtedly be called the team's best defender (until Kris Dunn's return).

LaVine recently had a ratings boost to get him up to an 84 overall, but since that boost he had perhaps his best game as a pro, notching a career-high 41 points in an overtime win against the Knicks.

With the current +2 boost for LaVine his new rating is 86 overall. With the leap, NBA 2K19 now has LaVine firmly ranked as one of the top 10 shooting guards in the NBA, behind Donovan Mitchell and slightly ahead of Bucks guard Khris Middleton.

Shaquille Harrison is on a defensive hot streak

Shaquille Harrison is on a defensive hot streak

The Bulls signed guard Shaquille Harrison to provide depth to a rotation that is missing it’s best perimeter defender in Kris Dunn and is lacking playmaking/ball-handling when Zach LaVine gets a rest. So far the results have been positive. Though Harrison hasn’t shown a tremendous amount of promise in terms of being a playmaker, he provides a solid option in the backcourt due to his defensive fundamentals.

Harrison racks up a lot of steals but it is more impressive due to the fact that he is not gambling for steals too often (i.e. getting out of position to try to strip a player you aren’t guarding). He picks up a decent amount of his steals by “digging”, which is a basketball term for applying pressure with a second player without making it a true double-team.

Simple “stunting” (jumping towards an offensive player to mimic pressure) or digging would help the Bulls prevent many of the easy drives to the rim they give up.

A big part of successful NBA defense is making the opposition think you are committing to one thing before executing something else. And the Bulls defense does little to keep the opposition on their toes.

The aggressiveness of Harrison in on- or off-ball defense has serious potential to be contagious to the Chicago roster, and even more so once Dunn returns. We don’t know if we will ever see Hoiberg trot out the Dunn-Harrison pairing or if that duo could do enough to spur on a change--over a big sample size-- in the overall team defense, but the basketball world has definitely started to pick up on his 110 percent effort on the struggling Bulls:


Even when Harrison does things that coaches traditionally don’t like—such as the ol’ ‘Rondo/CP3 reach around swipe’—he makes it work out:

In the above clip he was going over the screen on Celtics guard Brad Wanamaker--the correct play since Wanamaker is a solid shooter--and prevents Felicio from having to contain the guard for too long. A common thing you see from NBA guards in the pick-and-roll is the “snake dribble” that gets them into the paint. Harrison times up this move perfectly, knockling the ball loose as soon as Wanamaker transfers his dribble from his right to left hand.

Part of the reason that Harrison’s gamble in the above play was so great is that fouling can be a good thing, so even if he had fouled Wanamaker, that would’ve been a preferable outcome when compared to Felicio vs a guard or Cam Payne coming over in help defense to contest the 6-foot 8 Daniel Theis.

Harrison’s locked-in defense will certainly be needed as the Bulls head into a three-game slate that features matchups against the Bucks, Raptors and Harrison's former team, the Suns. All three teams have excellent wing scorers in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard and Devin Booker, and rookie Chandler Hutchison and Jabari Parker can’t be depended on to slow down those players by themselves.

Per Basketball-Reference, the 2018-19 season represents the first time that Harrison has played small forward in his NBA career (6 percent of the time). It will be interesting to see how Hoiberg deploys Harrison against two of the best three offenses in the league, his newfound versatility and consistent effort level should afford him a long-term on the Bulls.