Bulls

Game 4 roundup: Bulls have work to do

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Game 4 roundup: Bulls have work to do

Sunday, April 24, 2011
Posted: 12:30 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLISLike any team that loses a close game, the Bulls lamented a few issuesbesides their failed final possessionafter losing Game 4. Some were individual plays, but they mostly focused on various themes.

For example, Derrick Rose was disappointed in the teams lack of urgency and execution early in the contest compared to their lackluster first three quarters.

At the end of the game, when we got things going, it got pretty easy. But weve just got to do what we do at the end of the game at the beginning and find people, make the game very simple because theyre putting two on me, where the big doesnt leave until I pass the ball, so just look at more film and try to get things right, said Rose, who noted that the hole the Bulls dug themselves was simply too big this time around. Weve just got to put them away, take their confidence and I think it should be an easy game after that.

READ: Rose won't blame poor shooting on ankle.
Chimed in Carlos Boozer: We feel like we havent played our best game in the series yet. That being said, even though were up 3-1, were looking forward to the next one so that we can play better.

When asked if they lost their composure at times, Luol Deng was candid in his response.

We might have. A lot of things happened throughout the game, said Deng. I thought we stuck together to make that comeback. We just couldnt finish it.

Kyle Korver found some humor in one particular playhis early fourth-quarter three-pointer to beat the shot clock, which was waved off after an official review several plays and minutes laterthat could have been the difference for the Bulls.

Technology these days, huh? quipped Korver. Couple of years ago, we would have won, but Im sure its the right call if they looked at it on the replay.

Boozer still trying to find his rhythm

While his 15-point, 13-rebound outing was an upgrade from his subpar Game 3 performance, its clear that Boozer is still out of sync. Once again, foul trouble was an issue for the two-time All-Star and it seemed to affect other aspects of his game, as he wasnt as assertive as needed throughout the contest.

Im not going to keep whining about getting in foul trouble. Im just going to keep playing my game. I tried to adjust to the refs as the game went along, said Boozer. I got the two early ones again, but listenweve got guys in here that can play; weve guys that can come in and have been playing great all season for usso if I get two, I know whoevers coming in behind me is going to do a great job.
WATCH: Boozer says they have to come out better next game.

While backups Taj Gibson and Kurt Thomas are more than capable of filling in if necessary, Boozer being off the court for an extended period of time isnt ideal. Korver, his longtime teammate, rationalized the power forwards struggles.

Hes been in foul trouble a lot and I think hes trying to be aggressive, but theyre trying to take charges, theyre trying to flop, theyre trying to get him in foul trouble and hes got to realize he cant go at the middle of their chest. Hes got to go at their shoulders. But hell figure that out.
Bulls rebounding dominance ceases
For once, the Bulls didnt own the boards, as the Pacers competed on the boards, snatching 45 rebounds to the visitors 46.

They went after it. The more you go, the more you get and they went after it, they fought hard, they got to loose balls. You cant just jump against these guys; youve got to hit, said coach Tom Thibodeau. Youve got to block out. Youve got to block out and youve got to fight, and if you think youre just going to out-jump them, its not going to happen. Theyre physical, try to ram you under the basket and theyre going after it. Weve got to play a lot tougher.

Added Boozer: Weve got to do a little bit better job of getting into guys bodies and boxing them out, and grabbing the rebound. Well work on the mistakes that we made and hopefully be better the next game.
READ: Sharpshooter Korver emerges as clutch performer.

A major reason for the Pacers solid work on the glass was Pacers big man Jeff Foster, who corralled seven offensive boards.

Foster, he plays really aggressive. He doesnt necessarily get the ball, but he tips to someone, said Korver. Weve got to do a better job of hitting him first and not just waiting for the ball to come to us. But thats something where we usually have the advantage.

Observed Deng:I know they got a lot from Foster tipping out. I dont know how many offensive rebounds he had, but he seemed to get them at the times when we needed them.

The self-critical Rose put some of the onus on the backcourt.

Weve got to rebound the ball. They were doing a lot of tip-backs, where Foster was just hitting the ball back out. As a guard, youve got to get those and that could easily start a fast break, so next game, if he tries that, Im definitely going to be looking for it.

Prior to the game, Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel commented on the NBA upgrading two of the longtime Indiana big mans hard fouls from Game 3 to flagrant fouls.

No reaction. Happens in the league, foreshadowed the coach. Ive seen it happen before. Its not going to change anything we do.

Joakim Noah, while he wasnt a fan of Foster going after his teammates, acknowledged, Its just the name of the game right now. The game is physical.
Chicago fans invade Indy

If one were dropped off in Conseco Fieldhouse without knowing the location, it would reasonable to assume the arena was in Chicago. Even at a Pacers home game, Bulls fans flooded the arena, making it seem like at least a 50-50 split between the two factions, if the majority wasnt supporting the Windy City squad.

Rose stuck to his usual reasoning that the fans support the team on the road because of the franchises legacyIts because of the players before us, said the man that had seemingly half of Indianapolis chanting MVP, not only in the arena, but on the street, as the teams bus left its downtown hotel for the gamebut its obviously more than that.

Surprisingly, weve got a good following on the road most of the season. You guys media that have been with us throughout the year know weve been fortunate to have a lot of fans come on the road for us and support us. Its great to see them out there, said Boozer. Maybe the support is a little surprising, but I guess it shouldnt after the way the seasons been. Weve had a lot of fans almost everywhere we go, which is great. We love seeing our guys out there. Usually, theyre chanting MVP most of the game and its good to have that support on the road.

WATCH: Noah: "It's a tough loss but the playoffs have to go through Chi-Town and we're excited about that."

Noah concurred: The love for the Chicago Bulls is crazy right now and we love it, thrive off that and were excited to go home. We get a lot of love out there, too, when we go back home. Its good, it gives us confidence, but we know its on us to really put in the work and make them happy.

Young Pacers have confident leader
Although Vogel predicted a win before the game, it would be unfair to call him prophetic, as the rookie head coach has been confident his team would be successful the entire series.

We believe fully that it can happen and believe it starts with winning one game. Our guys were shocked that they did not win on their home court last game. They were shocked, they were devastated. We expect to win here. Were going to win Game 4 and go from there, said Vogel. Were standing toe-to-toe with a championship contender. Ive told them all year that theyre one of the best teams in the NBA and they are one of the best teams in the NBA; theyre playing as well as anybody in the league, right now. We hit our stride towards the end of the year and were getting better by the game. We dont have wins to show for it, which is frustrating, but were one of the best teams in the NBA right now. Our future is bright.

Our young guys have a lot of guts. Big onions, as college basketball television analyst Bill Raftery used to say. Its very, very encouraging to the future of this franchise, to see guys compete the way theyre competing when its on the line, continued the 37-year-old. They had to go through some stuff, I think. They had to learn and every win, every positive experience that they went through, every accomplishment, every achievement, we just reinforced it with them, showed them that they can, that theyre doing it, theyre improving, theyre getting better and I dont think they necessarily believed it right away, but as the season went on, I think that they are one of the best teams in the league.

Its been a great learning experience. Its been fun playing the chess match that goes into it, making the game adjustments, watching Coach Thibodeau make adjustments. Just a learning experience. Its been fun.

Pacers veteran stopper talks guarding Rose

Jones, who has shared the defensive assignment of guarding Rose the past two games with starting rookie shooting guard Paul George after not playing in Game 1 and Game 2, talked to CSNChicago.com about his duties.

We just tried to make him take some tough shots, picked him up, tried to make his day a little more stressful, just put a different look on him, he explained. Vogel has a game plan and he has things in mind. His job is to create strategy and I had to go with it. I did what he thought was best and I just stayed ready on the bench, tried to help my guys out and wait until my number was called.

Dahntay Jones also discussed how his young teammates have grown up during the series, a process in which Vogel has played an integral part.

Im proud of them. These guys are playing extremely hard and scrappy, playing with no fear and thats how its supposed to be in the playoffs. Theyre getting their experience on the run, but theyre playing extremely well, said Jones. Coach Vogel, hes been a positive coach. Hes been helping the young guys out, just instilling confidence in them and trying to play to their strengths, instead of knocking of them down for their weaknesses. Hes done a good job of that.

NBA Buzz: Summer League ends with mixed reviews

NBA Buzz: Summer League ends with mixed reviews

Anyone who spends eight or nine days in Las Vegas generally has a lot of stories to tell. Some good, some bad, but generally an experience they’ll never forget.

Which is pretty much the case for the Summer League Bulls, who returned to Chicago with a 2-3 record, but a much greater understanding of what it will take to be successful in the NBA.

Rookie point guard Coby White took the wildest rollercoaster ride, shooting just 34 percent from the field and a hard to fathom 3-for-30 from the longer NBA 3-point line. Hey, no one said playing point guard in the pros is easy! Still, White showed noticeable improvement in his decision-making as Summer League wore on, dishing out eight assists in the finale against Orlando. The 19-year-old White said going into the tournament that the biggest challenge he would face is learning how to adjust his pace, and not go 100 miles per hour at all times. And, Bulls’ fans will remember Derrick Rose had similar issues when he played in Summer league back in 2008.

Through his five games in Vegas, White showed better recognition on pick and roll coverage and did a better job of limiting turnovers in the last game he played. The former North Carolina star figures to come off the bench as a rookie and his speed will give the second unit a completely different look. White has the ability to get by an initial defender, forcing help from bigger players in the paint. After a full training camp and preseason schedule, the rookie should have more success kicking out to proven shooters like Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. instead of a group of NBA hopefuls thrown together with almost no practice to develop some chemistry. That in itself will lead to a better assist/turnover ratio than what we saw in Vegas.

Similarly, you can bet White will spend the rest of the summer in the gym working on his 3-point shooting. At almost 6-foot-5, White’s ability to play both guard positions was one of the things that appealed to the Bulls’ front office and his shooting stroke in college suggested he could be effective as a spot up option. As my colleague Mark Strotman wrote, White simply joins a long list of accomplished NBA point guards who struggled to shoot the 3-ball in Summer League. He should be just fine with more reps.

Second-round pick Daniel Gafford earned almost universal praise for his work in Summer League. The former University of Arkansas center averaged almost 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots over his 5 games in Vegas, showing a physicality and understanding of the pick-and-roll game that could earn him minutes playing behind Wendell Carter Jr. as a rookie. As Bulls’ Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson noted at the 2019 rookie introductory news conference, Gafford has a unique understanding of who he is as a player and tries to go to his strengths to maximize effectiveness.

What that meant in Vegas was outrunning opposing big men down the court for easy baskets in transition, setting hard screens on pick and roll plays, and rolling decisively to the basket looking for return passes that he could power home at the rim. Sure, it would be great if Gafford could pop out like Al Horford and knock down an 18-foot jumper, but that’s just not his game right now. Gafford has a few low post moves he can go to when needed, but initially he’ll just be asked to play hard, rebound and block shots, and occasionally roll to the hoop for a momentum shifting dunk.

Head coach Jim Boylen will have a number of options at center with Luke Kornet providing 3-point shooting and Markkanen expected to play the 5 spot in certain line-ups. Gafford could wind up playing a lot of games for the Windy City Bulls this season, but the fact the Bulls signed him to a four-year contract suggests they see him as a long-term fit.

As for the rest of the Summer League crew, Chandler Hutchison played better as the tournament went on, showing an aggressive mentality in going strong to the basket. Hutchison told reporters he just recently returned to fullcourt games after missing the second half of his rookie season with a broken foot, so it was understandable he had to work off some rust. Still, his ability to run the court should fit in well with White’s speed and Denzel Valentine’s 3-point shooting on the second unit. Veteran free agent Thaddeus Young is also expected to play with the reserve group to provide some stability.

Two-way wing player Adam Mokoka and Windy City Bulls’ swingman Mychal Mulder looked good at times during the Summer League circuit, and both figure to be on the practice court when training camp opens in late September at the Advocate Center.

Around the Association

In case you missed it, Las Vegas sports books are posting their over/under win totals for the 2019-20 season, with the Bulls checking in at 30.5. I’m sure you all remember I was the guy saying it was a lock they would surpass the 28.5 betting line for last season, so I’m going to stay away from offering any wagering advice this time around!

On paper, the Bulls look good enough to top 30.5, but it’s impossible to predict the kind of injuries that destroyed their season last October. The hope is with a healthy core group and the additions of White, Gafford, Kornet, Young and Tomas Satoransky, the Bulls will be a deeper and much more talented team for the upcoming season.

But then every other lottery team in the East (with the exception of the Hornets and Wizards) also figures to be better, so it’s difficult to project win totals.

That’s why they call it gambling!

Now that the transaction madness has finally slowed down, it appears the NBA will be more wide open than at any time this century. The 2014-15 season began without a clear-cut favorite after LeBron left Miami to go back home to Cleveland, but that’s when the “Splash Brothers” tandem of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, along with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala quickly established themselves as the league’s new power team. The 2019-20 campaign could feature as many as 10 teams entering training camp with the belief they could win a championship if a few things break their way.

Milwaukee and Philadelphia appear to be the class of the East, with the Celtics and Raptors a couple notches below. The 76ers just handed out another max contract on Monday, this time to All-Star point man Ben Simmons, who still needs to add a reliable jump shot and more consistent free throw shooting to his otherwise impressive skill set. Joel Embiid is one of the best big men in the game, and adding Horford and Josh Richardson gives the Sixers a talented starting line-up, but if the man with the ball in his hands (Simmons) can’t be counted on at crunch-time, can Philadelphia make a serious run at the title? We’ll have to wait until next spring to get the answer to that question.

Out west, the race for conference supremacy figures to include both L.A. teams, Denver, Houston, Utah, Portland and maybe even the Warriors if D’Angelo Russell proves to be a capable replacement for Thompson until the veteran sharp-shooter is ready to return from the ACL injury he suffered in the Finals. The Clippers have the highest over/under total in Vegas at 54.5, with the Lakers next at 51.5.

Doc Rivers will have his best roster yet with L.A.’s “other” team after acquiring both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, two superstar forwards in their prime. The Clippers also re-signed feisty point guard Patrick Beverley and will have one of the league’s best benches, featuring top sixth man Lou Williams, productive big man Montrezl Harrell and forwards Mo Harkless, Wilson Chandler and JaMychal Green. But the Lakers quickly pivoted after losing Leonard to the Clips and signed veterans Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels. It will be crazy watching the Staples Center co-tenants battle it out all season long.

Don’t forget Denver finished with the West’s second-best record last season behind the young trio of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, then added Jerami Grant to team with Paul Millsap at power forward. Plus, the Nuggets are looking forward to unveiling 2018 lottery pick Michael Porter Jr., who was supposed to play in Summer League after rehabbing from back surgery, only to suffer a sprained knee.

Houston general manager Daryl Morey made another bold move, sending a pair of future first-round draft picks along with aging point guard Chris Paul to Oklahoma City for Mr. Triple Double, Russell Westbrook. It will be fascinating to see how a pair of ball-dominant, stat-hungry guards like Westbrook and James Harden co-exist, but one thing we know for sure, it won’t be boring! Morey knew the chances of winning a conference title with Paul and Harden had pretty much disappeared after back to back playoff losses to the Warriors, but only time will tell if the team is any better now with Westbrook in the co-star role.

Many NBA analysts believe the Jazz are in position to win the conference title after trading for talented veteran point guard Mike Conley and then signing former Indiana 3-point specialist Bojan Bogdanovic in free agency. Utah now has a starting five of Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Conley, Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles, with Ed Davis, Jeff Green, Royce O’Neale, Emmanuel Mudiay and Dante Exum in reserve. Quin Snyder has his most talented team yet in Salt Lake City.

Portland returns the dynamic back-court duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and the Trail Blazers swung a deal with Atlanta to bring in Kent Bazemore to share the small forward spot with Rodney Hood. They also brought in enigmatic center Hassan Whiteside to hold down the post until Jusuf Nurkic returns from the serious leg fracture he suffered in the playoffs, and third-year big Zach Collins looks poised for a breakout season.

So, as the NBA heads into its “quiet season” over the next couple months (with the exception of the upcoming World Cup), basketball fans can look forward to the most compelling conference races we’ve seen in a long time.

 

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How does Coby White's Summer League compare to past Lottery point guards?

How does Coby White's Summer League compare to past Lottery point guards?

Summer League results are largely irrelevant. There's our disclaimer.

Whether Bulls' first-round draft pick Coby White succeeds in the NBA will have nothing to do with how he performed the last 10 days in Las Vegas. Use this tweet as a daily reminder that Summer League performance doesn't always tell the story.

That being said, it's all we've got to go on right now. But instead of analyzing White's up-and-down Summer League performance, let's compare it to other Lottery point guards in their first Summer League games. We'll begin with White.

Coby White, 2019, Bulls: 15.0 points, 4.8 assists, 33.7% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 3.8 turnovers, 30.8 minutes

White was a mixed bag in Las Vegas, showing the ability to push pace, get to the rim with a lightning-quick first step and knock down some mid-range jumpers. But he was also careless with the ball, made just 3 of 30 3-point attempts (and two of those makes came in a 20-second span) and didn't shoot above 44% in any of the five games he appeared in. He's still quite raw running the point, so the inefficiency was expected. The flashes he showed at times told much more of the story. 

Trae Young, 2018, Hawks: 17.0 points, 6.8 assists, 38.3% FG, 38.7% 3FG, 3.8 turnovers, 25.8 minutes

Many remember Young being abysmal in Salt Lake City to begin his pro career. But he was actually solid in Las Vegas, including a 24-point, 7-triple performance against the Bulls. Young was one of the biggest question marks heading into the draft, with real concerns about how his small frame would withstand the NBA game - but Young is showing all the signs of a future All-Star. In 23 games after last year's All-Star break, Young averaged 24.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game.

Collin Sexton, 2018, Cavaliers: 19.6 points, 3.4 assists, 42.9% FG, 23.1% 3FG, 3.3 turnovers, 28.8 minutes

Sexton was also a mixed bag in Vegas. He had a pair of explosive games, like his 25-point outing on 9 of 15 shooting against the Kings and his 27-point effort against the Lakers. But Sexton was also inefficient, didn't show much from beyond the arc (a concern of his heading into the draft) and didn't do much creating for others. He wound up excelling as a rookie, averaging 16.7 points and 3.0 assists for the Cavs. And while it only came on 3.6 attempts per game, his 40.2% from beyond the arc was a major positive after he struggled in Las Vegas.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 2018, Clippers: 19.0 points, 4.0 assists, 45.8% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 2.2 turnovers, 27.8 minutes

Gilgeous-Alexander was one of the more impressive rookies at the Las Vegas Summer League a year ago. He was efficient across the board and, in addition to the above numbers, added 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. In fact, he was the first player in Summer League history to average 19 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. That transitioned to the regular season, where SGA played an important role - albeit a smaller one - for the playoff-bound Clippers. And his 3-point field goal percentage blossomed to 36.7% in the regular season.

Lonzo Ball, 2017, Lakers: 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, 38.2% FG, 23.8% 3FG, 3.8 turnovers, 32.5 minutes

All eyes were on the Big Baller in Summer League, and Ball responded with six really impressive games. His passing acumen was on full display and he was a blur in transition. His defense was as good as anyone he played with or against - he averaged 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game - and, given the hype surrounding him, his summer was a rousing success. The verdict's still out on Ball, but his defense and passing will keep him as a solid NBA contributor the next 10 seasons at the very least.

De’Aaron Fox, 2017, Kings: 11.8 points, 3.0 assists, 44.4% FG% 12.5% 3FG, 2.5 turnovers, 21.3 minutes

Fox looked overwhelmed at times during his Summer League stint. Like White, it took him some time to figure out playing at different speeds and it resulted in some inefficient lines. His best games came early in the summer, going for 18 points in his debut and adding 17 more a few days later. Fox played just 7 minutes in his final Summer League outing, which distorted his per-game numbers quite a bit (he had 0 points and 3 assists in that one). Fox was largely invisible as a rookie but finished third in the Most Improved Player voting as a sophomore. He's the real deal.

Dennis Smith Jr., 2017, Mavericks: 17.3 points, 4.2 assists, 45.7% FG, 34.6% 3FG, 2.8 turnovers, 25.9 minutes

Smith didn't have the buzz around him that Ball and Fox did, but he may have been the most impressive rookie point guard in 2017. He played above the rim, made 3-pointers and looked comfortable in pick-and-roll action. He also added 2.2 steals and got to the free throw line 7.3 times per game. He was named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team, but it didn't really translate to the NBA. Smith has been incredibly inefficient, and the Mavericks dealt him halfway through his sophomore season in the Kristaps Porzingis deal.

Kris Dunn, 2016, Timberwolves: 24.0 points, 3.0 assists, 54.2% FG, 16.7% 3FG, 3.0 turnovers, 33.9 minutes

Jamal Murray, 2016, Nuggets: 19.6 points, 2.4 assists, 42.5% FG, 27.6% 3FG, 2.8 turnovers, 29.5 minutes

D’Angelo Russell, 2015, Nets: 11.8 points, 3.2 assist, 37.7% FG, 11.8% 3FG, 5.2 turnovers, 30.1 minutes

Emmanuel Mudiay, 2015, Nuggets: 12.0 points, 5.8 assists, 38.5% FG, 14.3% 3FG, 5.0 turnovers, 30.4 minutes

Cameron Payne, 2015, Thunder: 18.8 points, 4.0 assists, 43.6% FG, 28.6% 3FG, 2.5 turnovers, 30.0 minutes