Bulls

Bulls thrash Cavaliers as Rose misses third straight

647894.png

Bulls thrash Cavaliers as Rose misses third straight

CLEVELANDWhen pressed about Derrick Roses status the superstar point guard missed his third consecutive game with a left-toe injury Tom Thibodeau insisted, We have more than enough to win, during his pregame media availability.

He proved to be correct, as the Bulls (14-3) thrashed Cavaliers (6-8), 114-75, at Quicken Loans Arena, marking Clevelands most lopsided home defeat in the history of the organization.

The visitors jumped out to a 6-0 start and looked prepared to run the Cavaliers out of their own building in the early going, as a balanced Bulls offense Carlos Boozer (19 points, 14 rebounds), Luol Deng (21 points, eight rebounds) and Rip Hamilton (13 points) all were major factors appeared to overwhelm their inexperienced opponents.

However, paced by No. 1 overall draft pick Kyrie Irving (13 points) the rookie point guard proved adept at penetrating out of pick-and-rolls, shooting from deep range and finishing at the rim and the home teams longest-tenured player, active big man Anderson Varejao (14 points, seven rebounds), Cleveland quickly climbed back into the contest.

While Irvings high-scoring opening period certainly thrilled the fans at the Q and made the game a close-knit affair, his supporting cast allowed Chicago to obtain some breathing room as time waned on.

C.J. Watson (15 points, seven assists), again starting in place of Rose, blended scoring and playmaking to have a quietly effective frame running the show, while Joakim Noahs (eight points, 10 rebounds) energetic effort on the boards also contributed to the guests holding a 34-26 advantage after a quarter of play.

Interior defense provided by usual suspects Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, part of an effort that recorded a franchise-record and NBA season-high 16 blocked shots -- as well as instant offense from John Lucas III -- propelled the Bulls early in the second stanza, as they extended their lead to double digits.

The never-bashful Lucas kept the Bulls afloat through the midway point of the period, as the hot-shooting visitors maintained their comfortable winning margin over their hosts.

Said Boozer: We all knew we had to step it up without him Rose being out there.

To be honest, I was proud of our guys. It seemed like across the board, everybody did a great job. Our bench came out, played great tonight. The starters played great tonight. It was one of those nights when everything was clicking, he continued. Other than the All-Star Game and the Olympics, this is by far the deepest team Ive been on. Youve got guys who could be starting for other teams. Usually, most teams, they go to their bench and they feel a drop-off. We go to our bench and were even. Some games, they pick it up for us.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau gradually inserted regulars back into the game, but Cleveland responded, slashing its deficit via transition offense and Chicagos own offense getting out of rhythm.

Toward the end of the half, however, Hamilton took things into his own hands creating a dunk for Noah off a curl and a triple for Deng off a cross-court pass, before knocking down a pull-up jumper of his own on a fast break to again widen the gap and sending the Bulls into the intermission with a 63-44 lead.

Great scorer, great defender, makes great decisions when he gets the ball. Youve got to remember, hes played on championship teams and has been in this league for a long time, so theres not too much that he hasnt seen and he brings that experience to our ballclub. Shoot the ball when hes open, when he gets double-teamed, makes the right play, gushed Boozer about his teammate. Thats the key, though. Listen, you can always pass the ball out. He makes the right play every time. Theres a big difference from throwing it out and starting over, and hitting the man thats open.

Although the Bulls health woes didnt improve Gibson left the contest with a sprained left ankle and Lucas also departed after suffering a strained left groin they maintained their wide cushion, as Watson played distributor. Boozer, whose mid-range jumper and post-up game were both clicking, mainly handled the scoring duties.

I thought we did a great job of just coming out ready to play. Cleveland, theyre better than what their record says and I think theyre going to keep on getting better as the year goes on. We came out early and we were really locked in from the start. Even the third quarter, we finished the half well and came out in the third quarter, and kept that intensity on them, said Deng.

Were doing a great job of moving the ball. Were playing well together. C.J. was hurt, Rip was hurt, so having those guys out there and just playing with them, were doing a great job of just using everyone.

While Varejao remained effective for the Cavs, Noah and Boozer dominated the glass for the visitors.

With Irving cooled off since his explosive first quarter and veteran forward Antawn Jamison, in particular, struggling from the floor, Cleveland found it difficult to score against Chicagos stout defense. With the added bonus of Deng also chipping in with a typically steady performance, the Bulls took an 85-61 edge into the fourth quarter.

Carlos has been playing extremely well. Hes playing at a very high level, rebounding the ball well, scoring, making plays. Hes playing a complete game. His defense is very good. Joakim is playing with a lot of energy, C.J. is running the team great. Rip is Ripruns the floor, makes plays, plays defenseand then Luol, playing great defense. He provides a great intensity for your team. And then I thought our bench was terrific, said Thibodeau.

I think our wings are doing a really good job of running the floor and running through, and thats allowing Carlos to get some deep post-ups in transition before the defense is set. But Rip is great veteran leadership, very unselfish, plays to win and creates shots for everybody.

The game quickly turned into a laugher in the final period, as the gap between the teams continued to swell, Cavs fans began to boo the home team and Thibodeau inserted the likes of Bulls fan favorite Brian Scalabrine, rookie swingman Jimmy Butler and new acquisition Mike James, who recorded his first points as a Bull, into the lineup.

Sharpshooter Kyle Korver (14 points) carried the load in the extended garbage time, but it wasnt as if his efforts were absolutely vital, as the defeated hosts simply gave up on plays as the rout went on.

I loved the way we moved the ball to start the game. I thought our offense was terrific. Defensively, I didnt like our first quarter, but I thought we picked it up as we went along, Thibodeau concluded.

The turnovers, we got careless in the second half, so thats something weve got to clean up, but overall, I thought we had a lot of guys step up and play well.

Four observations: Bulls falter down the stretch, lose season series to Warriors

lavine_look.jpg
USA TODAY

Four observations: Bulls falter down the stretch, lose season series to Warriors

The Bulls have been swept by the league-worst (by record) Golden State Warriors after losing 100-98 on their home floor, Friday night. Observations from a tough loss:

Flashes of Lauri the Leader

The Bulls phased in and out of funks on both sides of the court for most of the first half, yet led 51-50 at the break. Credit Lauri Markkanen in large part for that.

Every time the game appeared to be slipping, it was Markkanen who snapped the Bulls back to attention. Trailing by four early in the first quarter, he had two strong drives and finishes to draw the game even. Then, after the Warriors began the second on a 16-5 run, Markkanen scored eight straight Bulls points to draw the game level. That’s leadership.

He finished the first quarter having taken seven shots, and the first half 7-for-11 (3-for-5 from three) and with a game-high 17 points. His teammates were clearly looking for him, and he thrived cutting and popping off on screen-and-roll. 

The second half wasn’t as fruitful — he went almost two full quarters without scoring after a cutting dunk to knot the game at 41 midway through the second period. So has been his season. 

In the fourth, he stroked a critical catch-and-shoot three to tie the game at 97 with just under four minutes left. Then, he turned the ball over on a travel and bricked a forced and contested 3-pointer. 

Unusual Zach LaVine performance, and a stilted offense

LaVine didn’t get his first bucket until an and-one layup with 1:27 left in the second quarter. Then, he ripped off 21 in a seven-minute run spanning the end of that period and the beginning of the third. Then, he didn’t score again. 

His most meaningful attempts of the game were two bricked iso jumpers in the final minute, one with the game tied, one at the buzzer that would have one the game.

His six assists were a team-high, but that will be overshadowed by those late-game possessions and night-long inconsistency.

This was his first time in three games not eclipsing 10 free throw attempts. As a team, the Bulls attempted only five all night. The bench was up (Denzel Valentine, Coby White) and down (Luke Kornet, Ryan Arcidiacono). Wendell Carter and Tomas Satoransky combined for only 12 points on 12 attempts. That offensive passivity will be a storyline, as well.

The Bulls do the Warriors some favors, and the Warriors do just enough

The Bulls led the Warriors for most of this one — in the second half, Golden State didn’t lead until the 5:30 mark of the fourth. 

But they did just enough to win — out-rebounding the Bulls 39-37, outshooting them on 17 less field goal attempts and going to the foul line a whopping 17 more times. Draymond Green was a beast defensively, and the difference-maker in the game. The Bulls defense generated some sparkplug turnovers early in the game — and got 20, by the end — but the stretch run was littered with defensive fouls, fumbled balls and more traveling violations.

The Bulls did them some favors, late. Boylen rolled entirely with the starters down the stretch and the offense stagnated. Questions there will start and end with LaVine, who waved off a Carter screen on the final possession. After a run of great fourth-quarter execution, a 17-point period tonight is dour. 

Obligatory silver lining: Coby White delivered the full Coby White experience

There was a couple of fun Coby White mini-runs in this one that livened up the United Center. 

In the first quarter, White had eight points by way of two threes (one a near buzzer-beater to end the period) and a turbo-charged drive past Kevon Looney on a mismatch for a finger-roll finish.

He then opened the second with a miss on a contested step-back jumper and a(nother) failed poster-dunk attempt. He hasn’t punched one of those home yet, but Bulls fans seem to appreciate the gumption, regardless. Then, in the last two minutes of the third, he had two 3-pointers over the course of an 8-0 run to pull the Bulls ahead after a Warriors surge. The UC was buzzing.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Special guest 5-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway

tim_hardaway_.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Special guest 5-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Jason Goff is joined by Chicago native and former NBA star Tim Hardaway

1:10       On how a Chicago kid went to play college basketball in Texas

6:15       On growing up a Bulls fan

9:20       What did Chicago basketball make Tim?

16:30    On starting his NBA career in Golden State

22:30    On the 90’s dynasty era Bulls and what he appreciated about them

25:25    Which players did he enjoy playing against the most

26:50    On today’s game and the point guard position

29:15    On the influence of analytics on today’s NBA

34:15    On balancing what a player’s skills are vs what the system wants

38:00    On Zach LaVine and his ceiling as a player

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

Bulls Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.