Derrick Rose helps Bulls put away pesky Sixers


Derrick Rose helps Bulls put away pesky Sixers

Who cares if it was the pesky Philadelphia 76ers giving the Bulls 48 minutes of run, when nobody who bought a ticket to the festivities expected it to be difficult, because they came to see a revival.

The Derrick Rose revival.

And as the crowd roared his name after cat-quick, brainless drives to the basket resulted in vintage Rose results, it was like he never left for six weeks or even two years.

After Rose took two hard dribbles with a spin to the basket for a layup with 1:00 left, he reminded everyone his eyes were never an issue, whipping a bullet pass to Taj Gibson for a dunk to effectively seal matters Saturday night, with a 114-107 win at the United Center.

“I thought he played terrific,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought he played well in a lot of areas, he made a few great hustle plays. You can tell he is feeling good out there.”

If his first two games were the warm-up to his home return, he delivered on call with 22 points, eight assists, six rebounds and zero turnovers in 28 minutes of play, his first fourth-quarter appearance since his injury.

“I’m just happy to be playing again, excited and we’re winning games,” Rose said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

He made eight of his 19 shots, being far more definitive on his drives to the basket late, after settling for five triples that came up short.

“The shots I missed, I felt they were good shots, in and out. I just gotta get my feet under me a little more for my jump shots,” Rose said. “But it comes with playing basketball.”

Tony Snell and Nikola Mirotic carried the sluggish Bulls early in the fourth, combining for five triples as the 76ers kept fighting back despite their already-underwhelming roster having just nine players available.

But they couldn’t keep up their execution as the Bulls had to keep pace with the Toronto Raptors, who won in Miami minutes before the Bulls game went final. Seemingly every time the Bulls were ready to put them away, a couple of their 41 3-point attempts would fall and they’d be right back in the Bulls’ faces.

It gave the Bulls time to experiment with lineups, as Thibodeau subbed offense for defense down the stretch, a tactic in the past he’d been reticent to do.

“It allows us to have Niko, Taj and Pau on the floor together,” he said. “Then when we sub, we can go more by what the game needs. They all need a good chunk of time.”

The game needed a lot at different points, especially with the Bulls struggling for efficiency, shooting just 38 percent at the half and actually trailing by one—being kept off life support by 21 trips to the foul line.

Gasol got going in the third with 14 of his 23 points, but they still couldn’t hide from the 76ers, who played hard and executed longer than anyone thought possible.

“We just took the circumstance and made it work as best we could,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “We went into the game against the Chicago Bulls, as good a defensive team as they are…with no point guards. To have the guys respond the way they did, I cannot ask more from them.”

It was almost enough, until Snell got going, scoring 11 in the fourth in place of Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich’s hyper-extended left knee gave him trouble again, and his status for Monday’s game in Brooklyn is unknown.

“I thought it was something I can manage through, but I guess I couldn’t,” he said.

The supporting pieces set the stage, but the night belonged to Rose, who showed what he can give when he’s playing in the final 12.

Devastating drives to the basket.

Commanding attention from defenses, leading to opportunities all over the floor.

And a confidence that this Bulls team can compete with the best, even if they let the league’s worst stick around for far too long.

"Just wanting it. Pushing myself," Rose said. "Last game just pushing the ball, turning it over. But (I'm) getting in a rhythm of attacking and getting used to having the ball in my hands in certain situations."

Robert Covington scored 22 for the 76ers, and veteran guard Jason Richardson hit four triples on his way to 19 points, as the Bulls’ ugly habit of inconsistent second quarters reared its ugly head yet again, as it did in Miami and Orlando recently.

And although it wasn’t Rose to the rescue, it was the kid from Chicago who put the finishing touches on a win that came tougher than expected, but was necessary nonetheless. 


NBC Sports Chicago launches new show Bulls Outsiders

NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago launches new show Bulls Outsiders

Chicago, IL (October 15, 2018) – NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – has announced it will launch Bulls Outsiders, a brand new, live, multi-platform, fan-interactive Bulls program that will provide a fresh take on that evening’s game and much more from three non-conventional sports show hosts.  Bulls Outsiders will make its network debut after the Bulls 2018-19 road/season opener this Thursday, October 18 (approx. 10:00 PM CT) immediately following Bulls Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois on NBC Sports Chicago+, via live stream to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive, and -- on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago). NOTE: Bulls Outsiders will also re-air on the main NBC Sports Chicago channel on this night at 11:00 PM; the majority of airings will also air live on the main channel location.

Hosted by three, die-hard Bulls enthusiasts – Matt Peck (@Bulls_Peck), David Watson (@bawlsports), and John Sabine (@jsabine214) – Bulls Outsiders will provide viewers with the hottest takes, insightful analysis, and spirited commentary from the fans' perspective. This new half-hour program will immediately follow the network’s dedicated, season-long presentation of Bulls Postgame Live for all 82 Bulls games this season.  

In addition to the lively post-game discussion with the show’s hosts, Bulls Outsiders will also emphasize heavy viewer interaction via fan engagement on a number of the network’s social media platforms including Twitter (@NBCSBulls; fans urged to utilize the Twitter hashtag #BullsOutsiders in their posts) and Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), which will enable Bulls fans to directly interact with the show’s hosts via comments and questions pertaining to that particular evening’s game, the key topics presented to them that night, or anything else they want to discuss from a league-wide NBA perspective. 

“Our primary goal at NBC Sports Chicago is to super serve our fans and with the introduction of Bulls Outsiders to our multi-platform programming line-up, we are able to continue that mission with a fresh and fun new program that not only speaks to Bulls fans, but one that directly involves them in the dialogue,” said Kevin Cross, Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago. 

In preparation for the hiring of the program’s three primary hosts, NBC Sports Chicago reached out to a number of notable local (and vocal) die-hard Bulls fans who stood out among the vast Bulls social media community. Candidates who responded back with interest were simply asked to shoot a one-minute video on their phone and offer up their take on Chicago native/Simeon Career Academy H.S. grad Jabari Parker joining the Bulls via free agency.  From there, the initial two dozen candidates were narrowed down to eight, who were then all brought in for in-studio auditions. Following the lengthy on-camera process, Cross, along with Bulls content producer Kevin Anderson, finalized their decision and welcomed Peck, Watson, and Sabine to the NBC Sports Chicago family.  

“It was an intricate process in choosing our hosts, but there’s no doubt Matt, David, and John have a great chemistry and solid individual strengths,” added Cross. “I’m also excited about how Bulls Outsiders will take fan interactivity to a brand new level and I couldn’t be more pleased that we will be able to deliver this show to the passionate and undeniably-dedicated Bulls fan base.”

Please note the following Bulls Outsiders host bios:

Matt Peck - Podcast host/writer for ‘Locked On Bulls’

Age: 31

Hometown: Glen Ellyn, IL

Favorite Bull of all time: “MJ, obviously…but Rodman is a very close second.” 

Favorite Current Bull: Lauri Markkanen 

Favorite Bulls moments: 

1st place – “1997 NBA Finals Game 1. MJ hits the game-winner at the buzzer after Karl Malone misses 2 FTs...Mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays."

2nd place – “2011 Eastern Conference Finals Game 1…Bulls blow out the ‘Heatles.’ Taj destroys Dwyane Wade's soul. And has a FILTHY put back dunk late with the route on. The Madhouse goes insane. We all leave that night thinking we were about to win the title.” 

David Watson - Bulls writer/podcast host for BawlSports.com

Age: 39

Hometown: Chicago, IL                            

Favorite Bulls player of all-time: Michael Jordan

Favorite current Bulls player: Lauri Markkanen

Favorite Bulls moment: “Jordan Flu Game in ‘97…Noah dunk on Paul Pierce in ’09 first round Game 6 Triple OT…oh, and that Pippen dunk on Ewing in the ’94 playoffs.”

John Sabine - Actor, copywriter, and improviser…he has performed with The Second City IO and The Improvised Shakespeare Company.

Age: 34

Hometown: Originally from Dallas, TX…has lived in Chicago for the last 11 years

Favorite Bulls player of all-time: “Pippen or Rodman, it's probably Rodman. Is it weird it's Rodman?”

Favorite current Bulls player: “Lauri Markkanen, but really Bobby Portis. I want to be friends with Bobby Portis.” 

Favorite Bulls moment: “Jordan's return from baseball. As a kid I couldn't understand, I said "wait ...he just decided to not play and now he decided to play, but like he has a new number and he's still awesome...what?!’ or…either 2013 Round 1 Game 4 against the Nets 3OT, Nate Robinson. It was a Marvel Movie.” 

REMINDER: NBC Sports Chicago will carry the 2018-19 Bulls HOME OPENER on Saturday, October 20 (Bulls Pregame Live presented by Coors Light at 6:00 PM; Bulls vs. Pistons tip-off at 7:00 PM; Bulls Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois at approx. 9:30 PM, which will immediately be followed by Bulls Outsiders at approx. 10:00 PM).


Re-focused Zach LaVine primed to bounce back: ‘I want to prove to myself what all this hard work is for’

Re-focused Zach LaVine primed to bounce back: ‘I want to prove to myself what all this hard work is for’

Healthy in October for the first time in three seasons, Zach LaVine entered training camp as the $78 million man looking to justify one of the summer’s largest deals that many criticized.

And just a few days into camp, the spotlight homed in on him further when the Bulls lost Lauri Markkanen to an elbow injury.

LaVine responded to both challenges, putting together a preseason performance that not even the most optimistic expectations could have included.

In just 22.3 minutes he averaged 17.8 points on 52 percent shooting, made 44 percent of his triples and got to the free throw line a team best 4.8 times per game. In short, he looked much more like the potential franchise-building piece the Bulls believed they were acquiring 19 months ago.

“I’m my hardest critic, so there’s nothing on the outside that I haven’t told myself of where I want to be at. You want to tell the doubters on the outside I told you so, but it’s mostly coming from a place where I want to prove to myself what all this hard work is for.’’

The fifth-year shooting guard was fluid, attacked in a variety of ways and looked like part of the offense, something that at times was non-existent during last year’s injury-riddled comeback season. Taking shots in rhythm, attacking the rim instead of settling for contested jumpers, running the floor. LaVine looked a lot like the player who shot 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep before the ACL injury in 2017.

“I think I found a good rhythm and then just keep that going into the regular season. I think last year still, I was trying to catch my rhythm with the games I played,” LaVine said Monday at the Advocate Center. “I’d play two good games and two bad games. I felt like that up and down was a little bit with the consistency of not playing. Now that I’m back fully I think that’s where I should be.”

The offensive uptick is a sight for sore eyes, especially with Markkanen on the mend. But where LaVine can quiet his harshest critics – including himself – is on the defensive end.

It’s just a five-game sample size, but LaVine’s individual defensive rating of 97.3 was better than the team’s overall 100.2 rating. A year ago, LaVine’s defensive rating was 113.9, the worst on the team, and worse than the team’s overall 110.4 mark. They’re baby steps, but steps nonetheless for a player who knows what the book says about him on that end of the floor.

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” he said. “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.’’

The preseason is one hurdle cleared, but they get much taller and difficult to get over when Thursday and the Philadelphia 76ers come around. No matter who starts in the frontcourt – Fred Hoiberg isn’t ready to announce Bobby Portis and Wendell Carter Jr. yet – or if the Bulls get good Jabari Parker instead of preseason Jabari Parker, all eyes will be on LaVine.

It’s the contract. It’s being the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butle trade. It’s how well he played before the injury and how dominant he looked in the preseason. He’s off to a good start and knows now is this time to build on it.

“There are a lot of things you want to reach and get better at every year, and I put a lot of work into this offseason,” he said. “I have a lot of things to prove and want to get better at, and yeah, I feel like it’s just motivation for yourself when you want to accomplish things.’’