Bulls

Bulls lose composure in Game 5 loss to Celtics, falling one game from elimination

Bulls lose composure in Game 5 loss to Celtics, falling one game from elimination

After a long miss, a battle of strength ensued underneath the Bulls basket as Jimmy Butler, Robin Lopez and Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas dug deeper to snarl the loose ball and was fouled by Bobby Portis.

The smallest player on the floor flexed with swagger, unleashing a devilish smile before giving the Chicago Bulls hell on the other end.

Thomas broke loose during a critical stretch to help the Celtics shake the Bulls in Game 5 of their first-round series with a 108-97 win at TD Garden, with the Celtics now leading three games to two and with a chance to clinch the wild series Friday night at the United Center.

Thomas' 24 points was certainly a tangible, but the Bulls will lament losing their cool midway through the fourth quarter after every button they pushed up until that point seemed to work, keeping them in contention.

Needing a leader to settle things, the Bulls were missing Rajon Rondo, who could only aid from the sidelines as a de-facto coach. The Bulls needed calm, they needed leadership.

Instead they came up empty at the worst time, being outscored 29-16 in the fourth quarter and turned it over six times, 16 overall. The turnovers prevented them from taking a decent-sized lead in the first half and doomed them in the end.

"We got off to a really good start then obviously they took over the last ten minutes," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "I love the way our guys competed."

It was part of a Bulls unraveling when they needed to keep their composure, after they kept their composure for the better part of 40 minutes in a hostile environment.

Dwyane Wade picked up a technical, followed by Robin Lopez' complaining about being caught in a leg hold from Jae Crowder earned him one as well. Lopez' sarcastic clapping at official Ed Malloy did him in.

"I was trying to be supportive of my teammates; I was trying to be supportive of Mr. Malloy," Lopez said. "I think he misconstrued it; I think he took it the wrong way."

Wade warned his teammates there would be a game where very little would go their way by way of the officials, and his team would have to play through it. Wade said he commented to official Danny Crawford that Thomas was getting a lot of calls and that's why he was tagged with a tech.

"Well I've definitely been a 1 seed before, playing against an 8 seed and I understand what it means, especially on the road," Wade said. "It's a lot of these guys' first time in it, that we're not going to get a call on the road, to our liking. Not saying we don't get any calls, but to our liking, the home team is gonna get a little more cooking than you, and the emotions run high in the game."

Considering the Bulls rarely lost their cool, even in instances this season where more fire would've been good to see, Wade was encouraged by the passion and investment.

Even if it cost them.

"I'll take that. I'd rather see that than see nothing," Wade said. "It shows that people care. I'm fine with everything that happened."

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At the end of it, the Bulls were behind 104-89 with four minutes left and Al Horford again continued his low-key but effective play with a dunk by twisting Nikola Mirotic with a fake that opened up the baseline and sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy, part of a 21-point nine-rebound, seven assist performance.

Reserve Kelly Olynyk scored a playoff-high 14 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes as the Celtics routinely used one big with four wing players all night, giving the Bulls fits again.

But that four-minute stretch was costly and now the Bulls find themselves one game away from playoff extinction.

Thomas' circus layup and foul put the Celtics back on top and he looked ultra aggressive from the start of the fourth, as Jimmy Butler got a rare rest in the opening minutes but it didn't translate, as he went scoreless on just two shots.

He took what the double teams gave him and will probably lament putting up just 15 shots, especially after he finished the third with a flurry, including a buzzer-beating 30 footer in front of the Celtics' bench.

Wade scored 26 with 11 rebounds and eight assists in 34 minutes, and the Bulls even shot 50 percent from the field, but put up just 74 shots. Lopez scored 14 and Butler 14, but Butler missed both of his attempts in the fourth and didn't get aggressive.

Lopez again made the parquet floor his own, going through a stretch in the third where he was hitting 20-footers and even manipulated the defense when it was scrambling to find Butler for a triple near the top of the key that was the most open look since Rondo injured his thumb.

Hoiberg went to his bag of tricks by pulling out Anthony Morrow for significant minutes in the first half, and unlike the last two games neither team could get away from the other.

Morrow scored eight in 16 minutes and Canaan scored 13 in 36 minutes, holding Thomas to just one of 10 shooting before Thomas managed to break loose later.

The Bulls repeatedly answered the Celtics' surges with calm execution and shot-making, hitting 53 percent in the first half. Keeping Thomas in check was the objective and although he made some pretty passes in traffic his teammates couldn't convert on wide-open shots, shooting 24 percent on 25 3-point attempts.

Thomas didn't get his first basket until the last minute of the first half, a triple off an offensive rebound. It was Avery Bradley who helped carry the Celtics when Thomas needed assistance, scoring 17.

In the end the Bulls needed assistance from somewhere, and it was nowhere to be found, as they head back to Chicago with their bodies wounded and spirits fractured.

Making of a Chicago legend: A look back at Jabari Parker's decorated Simeon career

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AP

Making of a Chicago legend: A look back at Jabari Parker's decorated Simeon career

From the moment Jabari Parker started his local basketball career, he's been a special talent who has produced at every level. Parker's signing with the Chicago Bulls this offseason brings back a lot of memories of his decorated four-year high school career at Simeon.

For Bulls fans who didn't follow Parker before Duke or the NBA, here's some of the notable moments from four years in the Public League.

As a freshman with the Wolverines, Parker was seen as one of three big incoming freshman in the area for the Class of 2013, along with forward Alex Foster and center Tommy Hamilton. Although all three players had the size and skill level to be varsity contributors, it was Parker who was special from his debut game.

Coming off the bench for a top-5 Simeon team against a top-10 Thornton team at Chicago State, Parker had 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting with two 3-pointers as the Wolverines went on to win in his first game in high school. Eventually becoming the first Wolverine freshman to start on varsity, Parker piled up high-major scholarship offers and national acclaim, as he was the team's second-leading scorer behind Brandon Spearman.

But Parker was hurt on the eve of the IHSA Class 4A state championship weekend and was on the bench injured as Simeon went on to surprisingly win the state title after some late-season slip-ups. Parker contributed heavily to Simeon winning the state title during his first season, however, as he was leading scorer in six games during that season.

During his sophomore season, Parker blossomed from a prospect into a full-blown star as Simeon once again captured a state title. By this point in his career, Parker was a consensus top-5 national high school prospect in his class as he regularly led a loaded Simeon team in scoring. Parker eventually averaged 15.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as he won ESPN High School 2011 Sophomore of the Year national honors, while also Simeon won a title at the prestigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament.

The summer of 2011 saw Parker become a contender for No. 1 in his class -- and regardless of class at the high school level -- as he dominated the summer circuit against his peers and older players.

Making the 2011 USA Basketball U16 team, Parker won MVP honors at the FIBA Americas U16 Tournament as the USA team captured a gold medal. Parker also had big performances at the Kevin Durant and LeBron James Skill Academies before winning the MVP at the Nike Global Challenge in August against mostly older players.

Before entering his junior season at Simeon, some national scouts believed Parker was the best prospect in either the junior or senior national classes. With Parker garnering so many accomplishments as an underclassman, he had a huge reputation already as Simeon was an established national powerhouse.

Parker helped the Wolverines capture a third straight state title, a city title and another title at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, as they went 33-1. Simeon didn't lose to an Illinois opponent Parker's junior year (they only lost to nationally ranked Findlay Prep) with Parker setting a school record of 40 points in only 21 minutes against Perspectives on Dec. 19. For his junior season, Parker put up 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds per game as he became the first non-senior to win Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors.

Gatorade also declared Parker the national boys basketball Player of the Year for that high school season as he became only the fourth non-senior to win that award. Sports Illustrated put Parker on its cover and proclaimed him as the best high school basketball player since LeBron James.

Facing an enormous amount of pressure during his senior year, Simeon played a national schedule and went 30-3, winning a fourth consecutive IHSA state title with Parker as he put up 18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

Becoming the only player besides Sergio McClain to start on four straight IHSA state title teams, Parker secured back-to-back Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors while also making the McDonald's All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Hoop Summit. Parker played all over the country during his senior season, with nationally-televised games and packed crowds filled with fans.

Reclassifications and the emergence of other contenders, coupled with Parker's foot injury before his senior season, dropped Parker below the No. 1 ranking to end his high school career. But he still finished as a consensus top-5 prospect in the class who eventually rose to the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft in 2014.

Now that Parker has signed with the Bulls, he has a chance to resurrect his career in Chicago, the place where he had his most basketball success.

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

According to Bleacher Report, Wendell Carter Jr. would be taken fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies if the NBA were to redraft this year’s class based off of Summer League performances.

It may sound like a crazy concept (and it is), but Carter Jr. averaged the second most points, 14.6, through five July games in Las Vegas. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field while averaging 28.8 minutes in his glamorous first-stint with Chicago. Those numbers are even more striking if you consider Carter Jr.’s 42.9 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

Carter Jr., the real seventh overall pick of this year’s NBA Draft, looked like the all-around player the Bulls were hoping to get this offseason. He made his blocking abilities as a center known from the moment he stepped on the court in Summer League.

In their re-draft, Bleacher Report had Chicago using the No. 7 pick on the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, who was actually taken 36th overall in last month’s Draft.

Robinson, a center, averaged 13 points and 24.8 minutes per game over five Summer League contests. He was the best rebounder on his team with an average of 10.2 in the five games that the Knicks played.

The 20-year-old took the second most shots on the Knicks and had the highest field goal percentage at 67 percent, but Robinson did not have any three-point attempts.  What made his recent production seem even more surprising was the fact that the 7'1'' big man did not play a single minute of college basketball.

But would Robinson fit in the Bulls’ system?

Chicago has taken on an offense-first mentality, so Robinson would not be as great of a fit in the Bulls lineup as Carter Jr., but he would still be an impact player. He can be compared to the Bulls’ current center Robin Lopez, who averaged a similar amount of points per game (11.8 points in 26.4 minutes) last season as Robinson’s Summer League average (13 points in 24.8 minutes). And like Lopez, Robinson will likely be most effective around the basket and in the pick-and-roll.

Robinson would also have to learn the defensive concepts that a veteran like Lopez has mastered over his 10-year career.

Next season, the Bulls will have an exciting scoring trio of Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen and Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. And the fact that Carter Jr. is getting so much love in the national spotlight is yet another reason for Bulls fans to be excited about this upcoming season.