Dwyane Wade's voice resonating on the floor and in the huddle

Dwyane Wade's voice resonating on the floor and in the huddle

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — Dwyane Wade was on the bench, so fuming mad that one would’ve thought the play in question lost the game for the Chicago Bulls, or at least put the opposing team in position to tie or take the lead.

Bulls guard Jerian Grant missed an assignment defensively, resulting in a Rudy Gobert putback after a Gordon Hayward 3-point miss when the Bulls were trying to put the Jazz away Thursday in their 85-77 win.

At the next timeout, Wade was letting the second-year guard know those type of gameplan mistakes were “unacceptable”, even though Jimmy Butler hit a jumper on the next possession to give the Bulls a seven-point lead with a minute remaining, effectively putting the game away.

As Fred Hoiberg approached the Bulls’ huddle after conferring with his assistants, he let Wade continue his constructive criticism of the guard who was playing in Rajon Rondo’s stead as opposed to interrupting.

“He’d been talking for a minute before I got in there with the long TV timeouts,” said Hoiberg about the event in question. “Those guys can look each other in the eye and hold each other accountable and talk about the game. We messed up coverage and Wade jumped (on a guy).”

With such a schism between the young players and experienced ones on the roster—along with Hoiberg’s demeanor that won’t have anyone confused with the fire-and-brimstone types—Wade has been given latitude to say such things in the heat of the moment.

Wade was frustrated that the Bulls were prepared for such an instance to happen because it had been discussed previously—and often.

“It’s very valuable man. As a player, especially late in games, our coaches do a great job of preparing us,” Wade said. “We prepared for fourth quarter plays, we knew what their sets were gonna be and then we came in today and did the same thing. So if our coaches prepare us for those opportunities and those moments, we shouldn’t go out there and mess them up. We know (snaps fingers). We went over this. Coach said it right before we came out, he said these are the three plays they’re gonna run and then we go out and blow the coverage.

“It’s unacceptable.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

To his credit, Grant took the criticism to heart and responded in the moment, helping the Bulls close out a close game.

“You know, it’s just how bad they want to win,” Grant said to CSNChicago.com. “It makes you try harder to make sure they don’t get on you again, so you do it right. I’m always, anything those guys say I’m accepting. I know they’re not looking down on me, they’re trying to help me, help the team win the game.”

The Bulls were up seven with less than two minutes remaining, so in a vacuum, one could think Wade was being a bit harsh. But he’s trying to establish a culture of doing things, a standard of behavior he’ll have to hold himself to down the line.

“And it’s my job and Jimmy and Rondo as leaders to make sure that people are being held accountable. And we gotta do the same thing,” Wade said. “We can’t have that when you’re trying to win ballgames. You blow one play, a six-point lead goes to three and now you miss, you come down. They come back. We don’t need all that. You need to be on it late in ballgames. We responded well, we didn’t blow any more late in the game and put away the game.”

Let’s be clear. A lot of what Wade is doing is because it isn’t Hoiberg’s nature to jump on guys that way, and so much of what Hoiberg will or won’t be as a coach will largely depend on how players respond to him.

It’s been a big question mark since he arrived in Chicago, and although the narrative can be overplayed about a handle he has or doesn’t have on the locker room, it does exist.

Having Wade as a lieutenant, in a sense, bridges that gap.

“It says a lot about this team. Wade, just to hear him talk in the huddle, keeping guys together,” Hoiberg said. “We talked about that at shotoaround for 10 minutes, that (breakdown) can’t happen. That stuff’s huge, it’s gonna carry over for the rest of the season.”

Bulls will try to slow down Mavericks' dynamic young backcourt


Bulls will try to slow down Mavericks' dynamic young backcourt

Through the opening four weeks of the NBA season, Dallas swingman Luka Doncic has emerged as one of the early favorites for the Rookie of the Year award. The 19-year-old from Slovenia is averaging 20.8 points on .489 shooting from the field and .395 from the 3 point line, along with 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists.

We’ve been hearing about Doncic for a number of years because of his sensational play in the European leagues, but some scouts questioned whether his lack of elite athleticism would limit his ability to excel at the NBA level.

So far, Doncic has silenced all the doubters with his innate feel for the game and the joy and flair he exhibits on the court. Paired with high-flying second year guard Dennis Smith Jr., Doncic is giving basketball fans in Dallas hope for the future despite the team’s current 4-8 record.

The Mavs beat the Bulls in the third game of the season in Dallas, 115-109, led by 19 points and 6 assists from Doncic and 18 points and 16 rebounds from veteran center DeAndre Jordan. The Bulls got outrebounded 41-34 and fueled the Mavs’ transition game with 19 turnovers that led to 27 points for the home team.

Monday’s rematch could be even tougher since Dallas will have the services of talented small forward Harrison Barnes. Barnes, who missed last month’s game because of injury, is averaging 14.5 points and five rebounds a game.

Even though he’s only shooting .377 from the field right now, Barnes' presence gives the Mavericks another three-point shooting threat on a team that lives and dies on its proficiency behind the arc. Dallas currently is tied for fifth in the NBA with 33.9 three point attempts per game.

Wesley Matthews scored 20 points in the first meeting between the two teams and veteran guard J. J. Barea always seems to comes up with big games against the Bulls. Barea is coming off a 21 point performance against Oklahoma City Saturday where he knocked down three of four attempts from three-point range.

So, what will it take for the Bulls to earn a split in the season series Monday night?

1. DEFEND THE THREE-POINT LINE Like so many teams in the modern NBA, the Mavs won’t get discouraged by early misses from long range. They’ll keep jacking up threes throughout the game, with everyone on the roster except DeAndre Jordan given the green light. Doncic, Matthews, Barnes and Smith Jr. are all capable of big nights from three-point land, as are Barea, Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith off the bench.

2. LIMIT TURNOVERS  Dallas wants to play at a fast pace with their young guards making plays in transition, so careless turnovers will make the Mavericks even more dangerous in the open court. Inserting Ryan Arcidiacono into the starting lineup improved the Bulls offensive efficiency early in their win over Cleveland on Saturday, but the challenge now is sustaining that efficiency over four quarters.

Shaq Harrison also gave the Bulls quality minutes at the point guard position against the Cavs, and he’ll use his size and aggressiveness to put some defensive pressure on the Mavs’ guards.

3. ANOTHER BIG NIGHT FOR ZACH  LaVine poured in 34 points in a losing effort in Dallas last month, and he’ll have a big advantage in quickness against either Doncic or Matthews. Dallas might go with Barnes on LaVine at times to challenge Zach’s outside shooting, but that might open up more opportunities to drive to the rim, where Jordan will be waiting.

LaVine has been very successful so far in challenging opposing centers on drives, and even though Jordan is an excellent shot blocker, don’t expect the NBA’s fourth leading scorer to back down.

With match-ups against Eastern Conference heavyweights Boston, Milwaukee and Toronto coming up, you know the Bulls would love to come away with a win over Dallas on Monday night.

We’ll have the game for you on NBC Sports Chicago and the My Teams by NBC Sports app, starting with Bulls Pregame Live from the United Center Atrium at 6:30. Neil Funk and Stacey King will have the play by play call at 7, followed by Bulls Postgame Live and Bulls Outsiders.

We hope you make your plans to join us Monday night.

Bulls practice notes: Wendell Carter Jr. looks up stats differently

Bulls practice notes: Wendell Carter Jr. looks up stats differently

The Bulls got a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. Here are my thoughts from practice on Sunday.

1. Winning Sunday

Following the Bulls 99-98 win over the Cavs, there was an upbeat vibe on Sunday as guys hit the hardwood laughing, joking around and putting up shots. Then it was off to watch film and back to business. It was two weeks ago in that film room where this team had its ugliest and hardest session of the season… watching the Warriors dismantle them time and time again.

But, since then, the Bulls have actually made big strides defensively, ranking sixth in the league since that blowout. While they’ve gone 2-4 over that stretch, you could argue the losses were all close and coach Fred Hoiberg believes that’s progress.

“Since that night, guys have really bought in to film sessions. They’re coming out on the court and trying to correct things where we were making consistent mistakes. We’re still not there 100 percent, we’re still making [mistakes], but we’re making less of them and that’s a good sign," Hoiberg said. "If we can get the rebounding to where we need it and finish off possessions that’s what will really take us to the next level.”

2. Carter relishes his role as the defensive anchor

Meeting the media with a big grin Sunday, Wendell Carter Jr. joked that he didn’t mind our questions getting him out of some of the team’s film session. Don’t worry Bulls fans, Wendell is a quick study with an extremely high basketball IQ.

“He’s a smart kid. If he does make a mistake, you only have to tell him once and he won’t make it again,” Hoiberg said.

I mention the grin, but the rookie has a lot to be smiling about as he continues to turn heads in this league. He’s averaging nearly 12 points, 8 rebounds and over 2 assists and 2 blocks a game. WCJ joked he was robbed of a fourth swat against the Cavs near the end of the game, but the one everyone wanted to talk about came in the opening quarter where he came from the weak side and blocked Jordan Clarkson.

“It all depends on who I’m guarding, the personnel. For Clarkson I knew he wanted to get a shot up. So, I knew he wasn’t going to pass the ball, so I knew that was the perfect opportunity for me to come over for help-side defense," Carter said. "I just kind of do whatever I can to help the team win and I feel like being a defensive anchor right now is something I have to do just to help this team win.” 

3. Gen Z looks up stats differently

Speaking of Wendell Carter Jr., the 19 year old said the three stats he pays attention to when evaluating his game are: Plus-minus, rebounds, and blocked shots. But don’t expect the Gen Z, Duke stud to look those up in a box score. Nope, he’ll just scroll through his IG page, duh. (@wendellcarterjr)

“I’m seeing them on Instagram and on Twitter, but I don’t really try to look for them," Carter said. "I’m not going to lie. After the games I don’t really try to pay attention to my stats, but if I’m scrolling through my Instagram I’ll probably see them at some point. I’m not going to just scroll past them and pretend like I don’t see them. I’m going to look at them.”