Bulls

Dwyane Wade's 'perfect storm' makes his debut a dramatic one in Bulls' win

Dwyane Wade's 'perfect storm' makes his debut a dramatic one in Bulls' win

The dream opening was turning into a nightmare as the ball rolled out to Dwyane Wade in the corner with the shot clock headed toward danger zone and the Bulls already living there for the last several minutes.

Three seconds later, Wade was signaling to the United Center crowd that it was okay to exhale after a contested, step-back triple over Avery Bradley with 26.3 seconds left, giving the Bulls a five-point lead in their season-opening 105-99 win over the Boston Celtics Thursday night.

“I saw Jimmy (Butler) going to the basket, I saw he was gonna make the pass but they stripped it and it rolled right to me,” Wade said. “It was like the perfect storm.”

After the clinching thunder clap, Wade strutted up the floor and gave a throat-slashing sign that will likely earn him a trip to the Principal’s office—but he’ll take the fine as long as it comes with the result.

“When I released it, I ain’t gonna say I knew it was going in because anything can happen but I felt very good about the shot,” Wade said. “It was a moment where a lot of emotion ran through me.

“I was excited, man. It’s opening night. It’s my first game back home and to be able to make a shot like that to help us get that win, yes I was very excited.”

Moments later, he trailed Gerald Green down the sideline before the ensuing inbounds pass, telling the Celtic some things he certainly didn’t want to hear before stripping Green of his 3-point attempt and knocking it off Green’s hands to stymie Boston’s last best chance at keeping itself in the game.

It was a small reminder that just in case the Chicago Cubs need some help in the ninth inning Friday night, The Closer can step into the phone booth and save the day as Wade the defensive play capped off his night with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists.

“Gerald, that’s my guy, we played together in Miami last year,” Wade said to CSNChicago.com after the win. “Rondo and Butler wanted me to help off and he knew it, so he started talking back after I said something. I told him he wasn’t gonna get that shot off.”

Green proved Wade’s words to be prophetic as he performed yet another magical act in 32 minutes of run, on a night that began with him on his knees as he was introduced to the crowd for the first time in a game that mattered—in front of his parents, family and friends, an event three decades in the making.

“I took that moment in the introduction, I’ve been waiting on that moment for a long time,” Wade said. “It was special for my family. They’ve been waiting just as long. I took the opportunity to thank God to be here. To have this career that I have, to make this decision on my own. I just took in a moment and then, it was game time.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Wasting no time, Wade hit three triples in the first half—nearly halfway to last year’s season total (seven)—as the Bulls jumped out to a 15-point lead.

“Just tweaking a couple things and not redoing (his shot),” said Bulls coach and de-facto shot doctor Fred Hoiberg. “He’s bought into it. And for a guy that’s been in the league as long as he has, that says a lot about him that he’s willing to work and add an element to his game.”

Wade, Butler and Rondo were a big reason why the Bulls shot a surprising 44 percent from long range, which masked their overall bad shooting night of 39 percent compared to the Celtics making half of their 76 attempts.

Butler led the Bulls with 24 points and seven rebounds in 36 minutes, as the night began with a bang but nearly fizzled after the Bulls blew a 15-point lead—with the Celtics threatening to ruin a festive and hopeful atmosphere.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas lived up to his namesake, nearly becoming a Bulls’ killer with 25 points on just 15 shots, carrying the Celtics’ offense as it rallied to take advantage of a stagnant Bulls’ showing before Wade saved the night.

The Celtics methodically got themselves together in the third quarter, as Thomas’ triple gave them a 69-68 lead with less than five minutes to play. Bradley scored 16 and Jae Crowder scored 14 for the Celtics, as they held Al Horford to just 11 with seven rebounds in 30 minutes.

Taj Gibson and Michael Carter-Williams took turns charging up the Bulls’ offense, particularly Gibson with his 18 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Bulls had an outsized rebounding advantage, 55-36 with seven players grabbing six rebounds or more to help Gibson and Robin Lopez, with the 18 offensive rebounds leading to more margins for error.

“We know in order for us to make the game so much easier, everybody has to touch the ball, everybody has to have that chance of being guarded,” Butler said. “As long as you move it, it’s probably gonna end up coming to you for a better shot.”

Butler wished the statistician would’ve awarded him with his fourth assist on Wade’s big jumper but isn’t complaining too much.

“He’s done it his entire career, this is just another year for him. I’m just happy he’s doing it for the Chicago Bulls.”

And for the first time, Chicago can cheer its hometown son without conflict.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.