Bulls

Bulls survive scare, edge Hornets

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Bulls survive scare, edge Hornets

After a four-day layoff and starting the second half of the season against a short-handed team they had already defeated by 23 just two weeks ago, The Bulls (28-8) would get all they could handle from the New Orleans Hornets (8-26), holding on for a 99-95 win.

Derrick Roses 19-foot jumper broke a tie ballgame at 95 to put the Bulls up ahead for good. It was the same play the Bulls used to beat the Atlanta Hawks back on Jan. 3rd, the only difference being Luol Deng was open after a back-door cut.

You would be surprised how much we practice that play said Joakim Noah.

After a 13-0 run by New Orleans put Chicago down 95-91 with 1:25 remaining, the Bulls turned up their defense forcing the Hornets into a missed field goal and a turnover on their final two offensive possessions and finishing the game on an 8-0 run to finish the game and are now 14-2 at home.

Rose led the team with 32 points to go with nine assists. Noah finished with 15 points, 16 rebounds and Deng and Carlos Boozer (11 rebounds) both finished with 14 points.

After sitting the last 13 games, Richard Hamilton returned to the starting lineup for Chicago and five points and five assists in just under 17 minutes of action.

I thought turnovers hurt us, said Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau. The second shot hurt us. They didnt shot a high percentage but I thought they got to the line. We were closing to their drivers not under control, so that got them to the line some, but well take the win.

We played them in New Orleans, they were short-handed, they had just gotten Chris Kaman back and theyre playing a lot better, continued Thibodeau. Theyre playing teams real tough, they got some wins right before the break, so theyre playing with more confidence. As they get players back, that team is a very good team. They play hard, they play together and their tough. Their record doesnt indicate how good they are.

It appeared readiness wouldnt be an issue in the first period as the Bulls offense ran smoothly as they jumped ahead by 10 points early in the period, before the scrappy New Orleans Hornets winners of four out of their last 10 closed their deficit to 30-26 going into the second quarter.

With all starters healthy for the first time this season since Dec. 30ths contest against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Bulls Bench Mob was at full strength, but couldnt provide their usual energy to increase the Bulls lead and the Hornets beneficiaries of the whistles strong free throw shooting in the first half (15-15) and Chicago being out of sync allowed the visitors to outscore them 24-17 in the period, giving them a 50-47 lead at the half.

I thought we had a few possessions in a row where we were careless on the break and that also let them back into the game, said Thibodeau. We were trading buckets with them for a while and they took the lead.

The Bulls started the second half strong, nailing eight of their first 12 shots and avenged a disappointing first half, shooting 54 percent and outscoring New Orleans 29-20 in the period and forcing them into 34 percent shooting.

Leading 76-70, going into the fourth, the Bulls begin the period on a 7-to-2 run to push their lead to 11, when the Hornets made their run to take a four-point lead, setting up Chicagos run and defensive stand.

We definitely held it together and we played defense towards the end, said Rose. I think thats the best we played throughout the whole game.

Chicago will hit the road for three-straight games and lead the NBA in road wins (14-6).

Even with the road trip, the Bulls are pleased to have all hands on deck, but as is the season youll hear often after Bulls wins.

We have to knock the rust off a little bit, said Rose.

Everybody is coming back from vacation and being with their families and were just happy that we got the win. The most important game now is tomorrow, where were playing against a team thats playing great right now.

The San Antonio Spurs (24-10) are winners of 12 of their last 13 games.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Coby White and Daniel Gafford join Mark Schanowski

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Coby White and Daniel Gafford join Mark Schanowski

Mark Schanowski is joined by Bulls top draft picks Coby White and Daniel Gafford after they were introduced to the media Monday at the Advocate Center.

0:50        White on how he thinks he can help the Bulls

1:25        White on his meeting with Jim Boylen

2:00        White on joining a very young roster

2:30        White on the influence of his father

3:33        White on the viral video of him reacting to Cam Johnson being drafted

4:50        White on his teammate first personality

5:38        White on looking forward to playing w Gafford

6:42        Gafford on his skill set

7:15        Gafford on watching the NBA when he can

7:40        Gafford on evolving big man role

8:47        Gafford on if he can do more offensively

9:20        Gafford on Bobby Portis, and some of their similarities

10:30     Gafford on some of his highlights from Arkansas

11:10     Gafford on Jim Boylen

11:30     Gafford on pick n roll game

12:00     Gafford on Coby White

12:40     Gafford on falling to the 2nd round, how getting drafted by the Bulls worked out

13:22     Gafford on throwing out 1st pitch at an upcoming Sox game

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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NBA Draft: The two instances that sold the Bulls on Coby White

NBA Draft: The two instances that sold the Bulls on Coby White

From what Coby White, Jim Boylen and John Paxson have expressed, there appear to have been two key factors that led the Bulls to select the North Carolina point guard seventh overall on Thursday night.

The first came early in November when general manager Gar Forman was scouting the Tar Heels in Las Vegas. White was an absolute star in two games against Texas and UCLA, averaging 26.0 points on 57% shooting (16 of 28), 5.5 3-pointers on 11 of 17 shooting and 5.5 assists. White also had just four turnovers in 54 minutes and got to the free throw line 13 times.

"Gar saw Coby play out in Las Vegas early in the year and my phone was blowing up with texts from Gar. That was the moment he was on the radar for sure," Paxson said. "It was Gar seeing Coby in Las Vegas that got the antenna up."

Paxson also referenced White's success against Duke as attention-grabbing. White struggled in the first of three matchups against the Blue Devils, scoring just nine points on 3 of 14 shooting. But White responded at home with a 21-point outing in Game 2, and in the ACC Championship Game tallied 11 points, 5 rebounds 4 assists and 3 steals in 38 minutes.

"He talked about it when we did our background that he wasn’t’ going to have that happen again," Paxson said of White's initial clunker against Duke, "and the next two times he played Duke, he had really good games and learned from it. That’s what so much of this is about."

That second Duke game - a game the Tar Heels won, 79-70, over the Zion-less Blue Devils - was also the moment White began feeling like he might be a one-and-done prospect. He didn't arrive in Raleigh feeling that way, but the 21-point effort on 8 of 18 shooting (and a career-high 3 blocks) put the thought in his head. It was part of a dominant stretch that included 34 points against Syracuse, 28 more against Clemson and, five days after the Duke game, 19 points against Louisville in the ACC Tournament.

"I think it changed after we played Duke at home," White said. "I started to get a lot of buzz, started getting on draft boards in the top 10. And then kind of after the season, I talked to Coach (Roy) Williams before anyone, and he kind of gave me his blessing, saying that I should go. After that it was kind of an easy decision for me."

The other instance that brought White to Chicago was a pre-draft meeting on the Saturday before the NBA Draft. White arrived in Chicago and, despite opting not to work out privately for the Bulls, did meet with Paxson and Boylen. Both Paxson and White described that interview as a telling sign of the mutual interest, and Boylen reiterated that impressive interaction on Monday when White was introduced to the media at the Advocate Center.

“He looks you in the eye when you talk to him. He’s coachable. He has a soul and a spirit, which I think is important, and he’s been just awesome to deal with,” Boylen said. “We had a great meeting. It was great for both of us.”

White described that meeting with Boylen as the best he had with any coach in the pre-draft process. Paxson said White was “anxious for more” after the coaching Boylen did in that meeting, with the two looking at both good and bad film from White’s freshman season.

It all culminated in Thursday night’s selection. With both Darius Garland and Jarrett Culver off the board, the Bulls drafted for both talent and need in selecting White. He isn’t a traditional point guard – his 24.7% assist rate is evidence of that – but he gives the Bulls both a dynamic scorer and someone to push the ball in transition. Paxson said as much on Thursday and Boylen doubled down on that assessment four days later.

“Well I think the most important thing for us is when the ball is in his hands. We have to run with him. We want to play faster. We want to play smart, but we want to play faster when it's appropriate. He's a guy that can make decisions on the move. We've got to get the rest of our team to run with him. That's going to be our job, and I'm excited for that.”

White will also give the Bulls a floor spacer – he shot 35.3% from deep as a freshman – at the position, something they desperately needed the past few years. He’s hardly a finished product but should get the chance to improve right away, whether it’s as a starter or backing up a free agent acquisition in July.

But Boylen applauded White’s desire to get better, something that rubbed off in that pre-draft interview. White had a direct answer when asked what he needs to improve on in his rookie season.

“Coming in, decision-making. The league is ball screen-heavy so decisions off ball screens. At Carolina, coaches kind of wanted me to really just go one speed and that’s fast all the time,” White said. “I think coming into the league, I can use my change of speed and change of pace better. I’ve been trying to work on that a lot. Those two things are really key for me.”

Finding talent was key for the Bulls after a 22-win season. But they’re also thrilled with the personalities and workers they found in both White and second-round pick Daniel Gafford.

“We drafted these guys because of their ability to be coached and be teachable,” Boylen said. “Everything we got back on their background was teachable, coachable, want to get better, care for their teammates. Those are the kind of guys we targeted.”