Bulls' Rose out vs Suns; availability vs Warriors in question


Bulls' Rose out vs Suns; availability vs Warriors in question

PHOENIX -- Derrick Rose will sit out Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, as his left ankle injury prevented him from going through the morning shootaround and it opens the likelihood he won’t play against Golden State on Friday, either.

“Got back to the hotel did some tests and some balance work, just really sore, still,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg before the game. “We decided to rule him out tonight and we’ll take a look at it again tomorrow.”

But when Hoiberg intimated Rose wouldn’t do much at Thursday’s practice, it’s becoming harder to visualize the matchup between himself and NBA MVP Stephen Curry materializing.

Kirk Hinrich starts in Rose’s stead.

“Still day-to-day,” Hoiberg said. “I doubt he’ll do a lot tomorrow in practice but hopefully we’ll get him moving and cutting, see if that thing feels any better.”

Rose took an awkward step on a drive against Monta Ellis in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 96-95 win over the Indiana Pacers, limping off then going to the locker room.

“I don’t think this is going to be something that holds him out a long time,” Hoiberg said at shootaround. “It seems to be something where he’ll be day-to-day. Hopefully after the game tonight, we’ll re-evaluate it tomorrow and see if he can go at Golden State. If not we’ll have three days to get him some work and get back, but I’ve been really pleased with Derrick.”

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The usual swelling didn’t occur and Rose said it wasn’t an ankle sprain that could be graded (mild, severe, etc). He’s been taking ice treatments along with laser, electric stimulation and acupuncture to speed up the process.

“Nah, just a regular ankle sprain,” Rose said. “Haven’t sprained his ankle in a long time. It’s kind of a weird feeling at first getting an injury like this again. There wasn’t no swelling.”

The injury seems to come at the worst and best time, all at the same time, considering the circumstances. The Bulls aren’t going through an arduous road trip, playing three games in seven days as opposed to a seven-game circus road trip they took this time last year. But they play a murderer’s row of guards each night and Rose’s ability to attack and control tempo will be key, should he play.

“I would love to play in all three of them but really got to pay attention to my body, listen to my body. If I can’t go, I’ll be able to tell tonight,” he said at shootaround.

And Rose is coming off his most complete performance of the season before getting hurt, a 23-point, six-assist showing that easily could’ve been a double-double with assists.

“No doubt about it, he’s very important,” said his backcourt mate, Jimmy Butler. “He had a strong performance, we knew it was coming. It’s all about rhythm and timing for him, that’s for everybody. As long as he stays in shape and gets back to practice, he’ll pick up where he left off, to tell you the truth.”

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Hoiberg believes the time off won’t do much to affect his rhythm, if you are to believe his play against the Pacers was more a sign of progress than a random occurrence.

“He, I thought was playing, besides the Oklahoma City game, as well as he’d played all year,” Hoiberg said. “He put a lot of work in going into that game, with coming in late at night, getting in a lot of extra shots. He hit two threes that game, his stroke looked great. He was king of the guy running the show, making plays, making things happen that entire Indiana game.

“When he went out we obviously struggled. So that was too bad to see when he went out. But he’s getting there, he’s getting that rhythm. He’s got 10 games under his belt now, plus a quarter of a preseason game. You can tell he’s getting in really good shape.”

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games


Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East


Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

Finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference last season cost Stan Van Gundy his job as Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations. Van Gundy was replaced on the bench by 2017-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the conference semi-finals.

Casey’s job in Detroit is to find a way to develop the young players on the roster while getting the team to the playoffs. He has a pair of All-Star caliber players in the front court, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, along with highly-paid, erratic point guard Reggie Jackson.

Griffin has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Van Gundy decided to roll the dice at mid-season a year ago by trading Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley AND a 1st round pick to the Clippers for the former slam dunk champion in a desperate bid to save his job. The trade didn’t work out for Van Gundy, but it’s possible Griffin could enjoy a resurgence in Detroit this season.

The 29-year-old power forward scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the Pistons’ 103-100 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Drummond had a monster game with 24 points and 20 rebounds. As Bulls fans know all too well, Drummond has made the 20 rebound game commonplace when facing Fred Hoiberg’s squad in recent years.

As for Jackson, a severely sprained right ankle limited him to just 45 games last season, probably costing Detroit a chance to make the playoffs. The 8th year pro is lightning quick, with the ability to disrupt defenses by getting into the paint and challenging bigger defenders at the rim. Jackson scored 19 points in the season opener against Brooklyn, and he’ll be a problem for the Bulls Saturday night, especially if Kris Dunn is unavailable.

Casey is still trying to figure out how to use the rest of the roster Van Gundy built, with recent 1st round pick Henry Ellenson and former rotation player Jon Leuer getting DNP-CD’s against the Nets. Meanwhile, two other expected rotation players, small forward Stanley Johnson and swingman Reggie Bullock missed the opener because of injuries.

That left second year guard Luke Kennard and 2018 2nd round draft pick Bruce Brown as the other starters in game one, something that’s unlikely to continue once everyone’s healthy.

So, how do the Bulls even their record at 1-1 on Saturday? Here are my three keys:

1. Keep Drummond and Griffin off the offensive boards. This is much easier said than done. Drummond in particular is relentless going after missed shots, and his bulk will cause problems for 19 year old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Hoiberg hinted at possible line-up changes on Friday morning, which could include starting veteran Robin Lopez at center to battle Drummond inside. Griffin has turned into more of a jump shooter now and doesn’t have the multiple jump capability that characterized his early seasons in the NBA, but he’s still a threat to create 2nd shot opportunities.

2. Close out on three-point shooters. Of all the defensive issues for the Bulls in Philadelphia on Thursday, losing touch with shooters in transition was probably the most troublesome. Robert Covington seemed to be open at the three-point line throughout the game, and Bulls players struggled to handle cross-match situations. Kennard had one of the best games of his rookie season against the Bulls, and Jackson, Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are all capable of heating up from long distance.

3. Attack Detroit’s interior defense. The Bulls were at their best offensively in the first quarter against Philadelphia when they drove to the basket to set up easy scoring chances. Zach LaVine was getting to the rim at will in scoring 15 of his 30 points in the opening 12 minutes, and his penetration also set up Bobby Portis for open looks from the three-point line. Hopefully, Dunn will return to stabilize the point guard position and give the Bulls' first unit another shot creator so they can sustain their pace and scoring potential over four quarters.

Saturday’s home opener is definitely winnable against a Detroit team still finding its way under a new coaching staff. Better effort and attention to detail on the defensive end along with a fast-paced, drive and kick offensive attack should make for an exciting opening night at the United Center.

Make sure to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Kelly Crull and me for a special one hour edition of Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and the new My Teams app, followed by the play by play call with Neil Funk and Stacey King at 7 p.m. And, stay tuned after the final buzzer for reaction and analysis on an expanded edition of Bulls Postgame Live.