Bulls respond to slump with definitive win over Pistons

Bulls respond to slump with definitive win over Pistons

The Bulls needed a win so definitive to wash the terrible taste of the last week from their mouths and they delivered so surely, “Another One Bites the Dust” should’ve been played shortly after the opening tip Monday at the United Center.

They played like they were tired of losing, and more specifically, tired of losing to the Detroit Pistons and put together their most complete and dominant performance of the year in a 113-82 drubbing that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

Perhaps the greatest contrast in performances from Friday night was the halftime box score, when the Bulls had more field goals (32) in 24 minutes than they did in the 48-minute stinker they put up against the Bucks (30), and equaled the scoring output of 69 points.

Rajon Rondo neared a triple double with a season-high 14 assists to go with 10 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes, and all five Bulls scored in double-figures.

“I thought Rajon got us off to a great start offensively, he was up and down the floor and got 10 assists by halftime,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to give the guys a lot of credit for stepping up, last week was embarrassing for everybody.

“The way we were able to snap out of it tonight, and have the guys play tonight.”

The problem is, nobody knows which Bulls team will show up on a given night, not even Hoiberg. But when this team plays like this, they can beat anybody—the exact opposite of Friday when the way they played would have them losing to the Washington Generals.

“Games come quick in this league,” said Jimmy Butler, who scored a team-high 19. “Everything looks better when you make shots. If you’re not making shots it’s hard to win. We got out to an early lead and for once actually sustained it.”

Taj Gibson made all eight of his field goals in 19 minutes to score 16 points with four rebounds, the first time a Bull shot 8-for-8 or better since Jamal Crawford in 2002.

“If somebody could figure out if a shootaround could carry to a game, I’d love to hear it,” Hoiberg said. “I wish I had the recipe for reading body language and that kind of thing. I don’t have a degree in that category.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Speaking of body language, it was the bench that opened eyes and used every minute of Monday’s two-and-a-half hour practice to their advantage.

Nikola Mirotic returned from his banishment and Doug McDermott came out and paced the Bulls after the starters got off to a 12-2 start, hitting their first seven shots off the bench—and showing how diverse the Bulls can be when those two are threats.

They were devils in the activity department, not standing on the perimeter waiting on passes from double-teams but flying to open spots on the floor after stops or in the set offense.

Mirotic had two jumpers where he took two definitive dribbles instead of pump-faking himself into dizziness, and McDermott curled around weak-side screens to hit jumpers—midrange jumpers at that.

“We played with an edge, an energy,” Mirotic said. “Played unselfish, 34 assists and defensively great. That’s the way we had to play. After a couple losses, our team found a way to play. And right now we have to find the way to keep playing like that.”

So by the time they needed to let it fly from the long line, they already had a rhythm and plenty of confidence, as both scored 13, contributing to the Bulls shooting a whopping 73 percent in the first half and taking an even more amazing 38-point lead before the half, setting for a 69-34 score.

Dwyane Wade got the Bulls off and running with fresh legs, getting in the lane and finishing while also earning a couple fast break buckets that sent his former coach Stan Van Gundy to the smelling salts and timeouts to try to stop the internal bleeding.

Wade scored 13 with five assists and four rebounds in 22 minutes, taking just six shots, and Butler added six assists with his scoring (all in the first quarter), hitting on six of his seven shots in 30 minutes.

It was Hoiberg’s dream of ball movement, where they tallied 24 assists in the first half alone with their 32 field goals, finishing with 34 and shooting 60 percent with eight 3-pointers.

The lead was quietly achieved on keeping Bulls menace Andre Drummond from getting to the glass. Drummond has been a terror in his career against the Bulls, averaging 14 rebounds and having a 20-20 game recently, but Robin Lopez held him to four boards and nine points.

Reserve Jon Leuer led the Pistons with 16 points off the bench and Tobias Harris scored 10 for the Pistons, but in a game was the most pitiful showing for the Bulls’ rivals, they picked a perfect team to rise from the ashes, living up to their title of Team Bi-Polar.

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


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.