Bulls suffer worst loss of season to Hornets


Bulls suffer worst loss of season to Hornets

Doug McDermott’s silky smooth jumper was immediately followed by Jeremy Lamb treating him as if he were a three-feet cone on a 3-pointer.

Aaron Brooks’s third triple of the night was met by Kemba Walker losing him on a deadly crossover and nailing a jumper of his own.

The Bulls’ offense wasn’t a huge problem but it was a reminder about playing on one end of the floor won’t get it done, as they handed the Charlotte Hornets their first win of the season, a 130-105 drubbing at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The loss was their worst defensive showing in regulation since March 9, 2010, a 132-108 loss to the Utah Jazz—the last season before Tom Thibodeau took over as coach.

“It was a complete domination from the tip, and they just had their way with us,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We didn’t have any fight, no resolve, didn’t try and go back at them. Just kind of accepted it tonight.”

[MORE: Bulls' defense carrying the load thus far; Dunleavy on the mend]

The only resistance was accidental, as they allowed the Hornets to hit eight of their first 10 triples and encouraged their 70 percent first-quarter shooting by being completely indifferent to the premise of defending.

In the first half, Joakim Noah nailed Cody Zeller with an accidental elbow that drew blood all over the baseline as the Bulls galloped downcourt for a 3-pointer.

Before then and soon after, it was evident that the Bulls were seeing red—and against one of the league’s most inept offensive teams at that.

But one wouldn’t know that by seeing Lamb, a recipient of a new three-year, $21 million deal many around the NBA questioned, responded by playing free, hitting his first six shots from the field on the way to 20 points, missing just one of his 10 attempts.

“I mean you want to compete,” Hoiberg said. “There’s nights that ball is not going to go in the basket, you gotta fight. I mean they scored over 30 every quarter, and that’s disappointing. Everyone seemed like they were on an island. Not only on defense, but offense and defense. Just not a good night.”

Lamb wasn’t the only one, considering the group of himself, Spencer Hawes, Jeremy Lin and Frank Kaminsky went eight for nine from 3-point range, putting on their best Golden State Warriors impersonation.

The Hornets shot 51 percent and 61 from 3-point range. In essence, the Bulls played like strangers.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It was an individual effort out there tonight,” Hoiberg said. “Nobody had each other’s back, nobody made extra passes, they outrebounded us by 19 … you can go right down the line. Just wasn’t there. We’ve been pretty solid on that end of the floor, holding a good percentage from three, keeping teams off the line pretty well, and they just beat us in all areas tonight.”

Seven Hornets scored in double figures, as they seemed to heed whatever suggestions former Bulls coach Thibodeau sent Steve Clifford’s way—Thibodeau and Clifford are close friends, as Clifford said Thibodeau sent “37 suggestions last night."

All of them must’ve worked, as the Bulls got worked from the opening tip, clearly a step slow defensively and unable to stop the bleeding. Hoiberg even inserted Joakim Noah to play with Pau Gasol to stop the damage Al Jefferson was inflicting on the Bulls but to no avail.

The Hornets kept pouring it on, with 37 first-quarter points and 69 in the first half, committing only one turnover in the first half. The Hornets were more aggressive in every tangible and intangible way, going to the line double the amount of times and outrebounding them by a wide margin.

It negated Jimmy Butler scoring 26 points in 32 minutes and even McDermott’s career-high of 17.

With the way the Hornets were shooting, the Bulls had better hope it was an aberration of the worst kind—because if this continues, it could be a warning sign of the worst kind of things to come.

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks


Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

Denzel Valentine’s troublesome left ankle is going to keep him on the sideline for at least the next two weeks. Fred Hoiberg said Saturday before the Bulls’ home opener against the Detroit Pistons that Valentine is suffering from a bone bruise in the ankle he sprained on the second day of training camp. Valentine will be evaluated in two weeks.

“It sucks because of all the work I put in this summer and being around the guys you want to be out there so bad,” he said. “Things happen for a reason, and now that we know what’s going on I at least have a time frame and be patient with it; it’s bad news but good news at the same time as it gives me time to get ready.”

Valentine had been practicing earlier in the week and appeared close to a return after spraining the ankle on Sept. 25. But the third year wing complained of discomfort in the ankle and missed practice on Friday. A scan of the left ankle revealed the bone bruise, and Hoiberg wouldn’t speculate on when exactly Valentine might return.

It’s the same ankle Valentine had surgery on in May 2017. Valentine also missed the last two weeks of last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Valentine or the Bulls, who are in desparate need of help both in the backcourt and on the wing.

Though Valentine isn’t a true point guard, he averaged 3.2 assists per game off the bench last season. The Bulls could use that kind of production when Kris Dunn returns on Monday, as Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono haven’t exactly showed promise in the early going.

Instead, Valentine is on the mend and it’s unclear when he might return. Given he’s had surgery on the same ankle before, the Bulls will be cautious upon his return.

“I’m a fighter, I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand dealt," Valentine said. "I can’t sit here and be negative, I just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”

Still in search of guard depth, Bulls reportedly 'planning to sign' Shaquille Harrison

Still in search of guard depth, Bulls reportedly 'planning to sign' Shaquille Harrison

The Bulls are still scrambling to add depth at point guard and found another body to throw in the rotation.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Bulls "are planning to sign" Shaquille Harrison. Harrison was waived by the Suns on Monday.

In order to complete the move, the Bulls are reportedly waiving center Omer Asik.

Harrison went undrafted out of Tulsa in 2016. The Suns signed him and sent him to the then NBA D-League. Last season, the 25-year-old from Kansas City played in 23 games and made two starts in the NBA. He averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 assists in 16.7 minutes per game.

The Suns signed Jamal Crawford earlier this week and waived Harrison. The Bulls apparently have swooped in.

This move comes just six days after the Bulls added Tyler Ulis, who was also waived by the Suns. Ulis didn't play in the season-opening loss at Philadelphia.

Kris Dunn will miss his second straight game Saturday against the Pistons. His absence against the Sixers showed the lack of depth at guard for the Bulls. Cam Payne started at point guard and split minutes with Ryan Arcidiacono. Payne went 0-for-4 in 21 minutes and led coach Fred Hoiberg to say potential lineup changes are "still up in the air."

Harrison can now join Payne, Arcidiacono and Ulis in a battle for backup minutes at point guard when Dunn returns to the lineup.