Bulls

Clippers star Griffin ejected after swiping the head of Bulls' Gibson

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Clippers star Griffin ejected after swiping the head of Bulls' Gibson

It certainly wasn’t intentional, but the Clippers suffered a huge blow when Blake Griffin nailed Taj Gibson with an overhead forearm in the third quarter, resulting in a flagrant 2 ejection.

Griffin immediately held onto Gibson upon point of impact to make sure he was OK, but in this new NBA, plays like that will be reviewed and officials will err on the side of caution as opposed to intent. Griffin was out of position on a pump fake and tried to swipe the ball from behind Gibson’s head before Gibson went up for a shot.

This wasn’t a Gibson-Matthew Dellavedova situation, where Gibson was ejected during a crucial point of the Bulls-Cavs playoff series when the two got tangled up and Gibson tried to free himself.

“I’ve known Blake for a long time. Great guy,” Gibson said. “Even after he got ejected, he made sure I was OK. It’s no big thing. It’s just basketball, but that’s how our league is now and you have to respect the referee.”

With the league taking more consideration to wind up and impact as opposed to intent, the officials had just cause in ejecting Griffin, who did some serious damage to the Bulls in 24 minutes with 18 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.

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“I couldn’t see the play,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It looked bad. If so, he would get the flagrant 2. He was rebounding, playing physical and tough. He wound up to knock the ball, but if you miss and hit the player, you can get the flagrant 2. You have to protect the player.”

Griffin was upset with the ruling but left the floor peacefully, checking on Gibson one final time.

“He got me in the air, I tried to swat the ball,” Griffin said. “Obviously I missed. It was disappointing on their ruling because I didn’t want to leave the game. I wasn’t trying to hit him in the face. There was no intent to hit him, only the ball.”

In Griffin’s stead, though, Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson stepped up and hit shots to tie the game with seven minutes left. Smith hit back-to-back triples, scoring eight points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

“I didn’t see the replay until after the game,” Gibson said. “I was still trying to get my senses back because it was a tough hit.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, the Bulls Outsiders team of Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine join Kevin Anderson to talk about the series premier of ‘Bulls Outsiders’ Thursday night. Hear about how the show came together and what they are hoping to bring to the Bulls fanbase this season. They’ll also share their bold predictions for the season including two potential end-of-season award winners from this roster.

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

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

We all know what Zach LaVine is capable of doing on the offensive side of things. But what about his defense?

It's no secret that LaVine has had his fair share of struggles on defense, but Kris Dunn thinks highly of his 23-year-old teammate and what his potential is at the other end.

"On the defensive end I just told him, 'You're as fast as me. You're more athletic than me. There's no way you shouldn't be a good defender in this league. You could be one of those guys who could be dynamic in the passing lanes because you're so athletic and fast.'" Dunn said of LaVine. "And personally, I like to score. If you get in a passing lane, that's a dunk for yourself and because you've got so much bounce that's when you get the crowd on their feet — maybe do a windmill, a 360, something.

"But I think he's been going a good job on the defensive end. It's not going to be easy. We all got to learn and I think we're all trying."

Improving his defense would obviously be a big step forward for LaVine (and the Bulls), and he knows it. 

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” LaVine said when assessing his preseason. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’

LaVine and the Bulls travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Thursday night in their season opener. You can watch Bulls Pre- and Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago before and after the game for highlights and analysis.