Bulls win in Rose's preseason debut thanks to McDermott's game-winner


Bulls win in Rose's preseason debut thanks to McDermott's game-winner

By Kent Wolgamott

Special contributor for CSNChicago.com

Lincoln, Neb. -- Derrick Rose returned for the Chicago Bulls on Friday, taking the floor for the first time in the preseason midway through the first quarter of the Bulls 103-102 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Both Rose and coach Fred Hoiberg say he will most likely play in Tuesday’s season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Rose fractured his left orbital bone near his eye when he was struck by an elbow in practice on Sept. 29 and had it surgically repaired the next day. He hadn’t appeared in the Bulls first eight preseason games.

“I don’t want to jinx myself,” said the oft-injured Rose. “It’s improving every day. So it looks like it’s a go for me.”

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Hoiberg said there’s no reason that Rose won’t play on Tuesday unless he has a set back in the next three days.

“It was great to see him back in uniform,” Hoiberg said. ““Our pace was as good as it’s been all preseason when Derrick got in there and in turn the other guys were out there running with him. He got to the rim, hit a nice little pull up out there….It was a very good first effort for Derrick.”

Rose entered the game at the 7:30 mark of the first period, hitting a driving left-handed layup a couple minutes later. Rose made all three of his shots, which were all at the rim, leaving the game having played just over 5 1/2 minutes.

“That’s what I saw offensively. just a lot of lanes,” he said. “Whenever I see lanes, I’m driving. If someone steps up, I’m hitting who’s ever open and just trying to play basketball.”

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He returned with 4:42 remaining in the second quarter and played the remainder of the half, hitting one of two mid-range jumpers. Rose did not return in the second half.

Doug McDermott hit a fade away jumper from about 15 feet with 1 second left to give the Bulls the win. McDermott hit a 3-pointer with 3:36 left to put the Bulls up 92-91, and Tony Snell’s layup gave the Bulls a 94-91 lead. Snell added a 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining to give the Bulls a 101-95 lead. But the Mavericks chipped away at the lead at the free throw line, and John Jenkins hit a 3 with 5 seconds left to put the Mavs up 102-101.

Hoiberg said he intentionally ran the final play for McDermott, who starred in college at Creighton, in Omaha.

“I wanted to run it for him,” Hoiberg said. “He had a lot of support here, he played an hour down the road. I wanted to put it in his hands and be the guy who wins or loses it for us. I’m glad he won it.”

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Picture yourself at 19 years old.

Maybe you were in college. Maybe you hit the job market early.

What you likely weren’t doing was guarding one the NBA’s best centers in your first professional game.

That was the task charged to Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls’ 127-108 loss to the 76ers in the season opener at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday.

Carter Jr. was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft after just one season at Duke. He earned the start in his NBA debut after an impressive preseason, but nothing could’ve prepared him for going up against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Carter Jr. said when asked if Embiid was as impressive as he thought he’d be. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of, or the best, big man in the league. Very skilled, very poised. He knows his spots on the court.

“I didn’t go out there with my best effort. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Carter Jr. had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in 20 minutes. He also picked up four fouls, which the rookie attributed to the physicality and craftiness of Embiid.

But he did flash the impressive and varied skill set that made him a high pick and such a coveted prospect. He was also able to garner the praise of the Bulls’ veterans.

“Even though Wendell got in foul trouble he was still playing (Embiid) solid,” Zach LaVine, who scored a team-high 30 points, said. “That’s a tough first game right there. But he didn’t lack for confidence. Made him take some tough shots, but he’s going to make them. He’s that type of player.”

To his credit, Carter Jr. was candid about his performance. He admitted that his emotions ran the gamut from nervous to excited to happy.

In a season that will have its ups and downs as the young Bulls develop and learn, there will likely be more games like this against other elite NBA competition. It’ll be how Carter Jr. responds that will define his career.

“It’s the first game so I don’t want to put too much on myself,” Carter Jr. said. “It would be different if it was like the 50th game or 60th game. It’s the first game. We’re just going to move on from it. We’ve got our home opener on Saturday (vs. the Pistons). That’s where my mind is right now.”

See, he’s learning already.

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

The Bulls backup point guard situation will be in dire straits all season, with no established veteran behind Kris Dunn. And although the front office has seemingly committed to Cameron Payne as the backup PG (for at least this season), Ryan Arcidiacono showed enough in the season opener to justify giving him meaningful plying time in the rotation. 

Here are the stat lines of Arcidiacono and Cameron Payne from the season opener in Philadelphia:

Arcidiacono: 8 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 from the 3-point line

Payne:           0 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 from the 3-point line

With so many capable ball handlers and score-first players on the Bulls, point and assist totals aren’t as important as the rebounds and 3-point attempts. To provide the necessary space needed for driving lanes, there has to be openings in the defense caused by defenders sticking close to player they believe are a threat to shoot.

And that is where the problem lies with Payne.

Ryan Arcidiacono—while by no means a dominant scorer—showed a willingness to attack off of the pick-and-roll, even showing off an impressive ball-fake:

Payne, despite coming into the league with the reputation of a scorer, has yet to be aggressive enough to make teams think twice about leaving him wide-open on the perimeter. And he is not one to attack the basket with purpose, averaging less than half a free throw per game for his career. Payne's general lack of aggressiveness when on the floor is often times made worse by his occasional poor post entry passes that seem predetermined:

Even if the above play was designed to get the ball to LaVine in the mid-post, Payne chooses a terrible time to make the pass. When he starts the motion to give the ball to LaVine, Ben Simmons is positioned in front of LaVine to force a tougher pass, as rookie Landry Shamet gambles over the backside to get the steal.

Had Payne chose to swing the ball around the perimeter, or give it to Bobby Ports and then get it back, he could have created an opening for the LaVine pass.

Obviously, the Bulls 19-point loss can’t be blamed on solely on Payne, the terrible defense was a group effort, as was the sometimes questionable shot selection. But with the defense already appearing to be perhaps one of the league's worst units, Fred Hoiberg would be wise to put Arcidiacono in more.

Hoiberg is in a crucial year where he needs to show that he can be the head coach of this team when they finally become competitive.

And for Hoiberg to show that type of growth as a coach, he needs to set the tone that minutes are earned not given, something he has already started with his moving of Jabari Parker to the bench. Payne only received 22 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for Arcidiacono, and it is tough to see that changing if things continue on like they did on Thursday night.