Bulls

Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose's return to Chicago a successful one as Bulls fall to Knicks

Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose's return to Chicago a successful one as Bulls fall to Knicks

It can all turn so quickly.

Not that the good vibes are gone, but as evidenced by the smattering of boos given to Derrick Rose in his return to Chicago for the first time as a visitor, things can change in the blink of an eye, in the torque of a leg, in a 48-minute span.

The New York Knicks came into the United Center and treated the building as if it were their own with a 117-104 win Friday night in Rose and Joakim Noah’s return since moving on to the Knicks this offseason.

If the Bulls wanted to show their former mates life has gotten oh-so-much better without them around, they failed to send the message as it was the Knicks who played harmoniously and with savvy in an electric environment, taking an early 22-6 lead and having the Bulls play catch-up all night long.

“They came out and played with great energy,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “They got two guys coming back to a franchise, the only one they played for. I knew they would come out with great energy.”

Rose was cheered and booed through the night, even egging the fans on in the third quarter after a free-throw line jumper, his first field goal outside the paint as he scored 15 with a season-high 11 assists and seven rebounds.

“I don’t know, I probably forgot it. It was probably from someone taunting me,” Rose said. “I love to compete, I’m a competitor. That’s all it was.”

Noah scored in double figures for the first time as a Knick, with 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Noah and Rose were the pregame headliners but second-year forward Kristaps Porzingis helped give the Bulls the blues, with 27 points and five rebounds. Rose gushed about Porzingis’ game while chatting with reporters, and it was easy to see why he’s regarded as one of the best young talents the NBA has to offer.

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Hitting triples in transition, feasting off mismatches caused by defensive switches from the Bulls that shouldn’t have occurred, he took full advantage of everything the Bulls allowed—and they allowed just about everything.

“There was just no real urgency coming out of the gate tonight,” Hoiberg said. “We were retreating on our hells all night.”

Despite the start, the Bulls clawed back into the game, going on a 49-27 run to take a six-point lead before the half, as Dwyane Wade launched triple after triple to cut the deficit.

Not surprisingly, the Bulls’ best defensive quarter was when they took control, holding the Knicks to 45.5 percent shooting—the only 12-minute stretch where the Knicks shot below 50 percent.

Wade finished with a season-high 35—his best scoring performance since the 2014-15 season—and Jimmy Butler scored 26. But clearly offense wasn’t the problem, as Wade hit five triples to surpass his season total from a year ago (eight).

“The disappointing thing is we got the lead in the second quarter, then let our foot off the gas and let them come out and set the tone again,” Hoiberg said.

The Knicks spread the ball around freely in the second half, with Rose and Brandon Jennings playing in the backcourt for the fourth quarter as dual playmakers. It set up things for Anthony, Porzingis and Noah, with the Bulls offering little resistance.

It was another sign of the Bulls missing the defensive pressure provided by Michael Carter-Williams, as the starters failed to contain the Knicks’ first five.

“We had 15 assists and 13 turnovers, they had 32 assists and five turnovers,” Hoiberg said. “That tells you everything you need to know.”

Rajon Rondo didn’t have the type of affect on the game as he had in the opening Bulls wins, tallying only four points, five rebounds and five assists.

His counterpart got the last laugh when it counted.

Rose’s 11th assist, a cross-court pass to the corner for an Anthony triple, gave the Knicks a 114-104 lead with 50.6 seconds left. Noah greeted Anthony in the air with a mid-air chest bump that had to be none too pleasing for the Bulls faithful but as satisfying as any win Noah and Rose have had in the last two years.

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

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USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

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USA TODAY

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

Finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference last season cost Stan Van Gundy his job as Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations. Van Gundy was replaced on the bench by 2017-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the conference semi-finals.

Casey’s job in Detroit is to find a way to develop the young players on the roster while getting the team to the playoffs. He has a pair of All-Star caliber players in the front court, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, along with highly-paid, erratic point guard Reggie Jackson.

Griffin has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Van Gundy decided to roll the dice at mid-season a year ago by trading Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley AND a 1st round pick to the Clippers for the former slam dunk champion in a desperate bid to save his job. The trade didn’t work out for Van Gundy, but it’s possible Griffin could enjoy a resurgence in Detroit this season.

The 29-year-old power forward scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the Pistons’ 103-100 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Drummond had a monster game with 24 points and 20 rebounds. As Bulls fans know all too well, Drummond has made the 20 rebound game commonplace when facing Fred Hoiberg’s squad in recent years.

As for Jackson, a severely sprained right ankle limited him to just 45 games last season, probably costing Detroit a chance to make the playoffs. The 8th year pro is lightning quick, with the ability to disrupt defenses by getting into the paint and challenging bigger defenders at the rim. Jackson scored 19 points in the season opener against Brooklyn, and he’ll be a problem for the Bulls Saturday night, especially if Kris Dunn is unavailable.

Casey is still trying to figure out how to use the rest of the roster Van Gundy built, with recent 1st round pick Henry Ellenson and former rotation player Jon Leuer getting DNP-CD’s against the Nets. Meanwhile, two other expected rotation players, small forward Stanley Johnson and swingman Reggie Bullock missed the opener because of injuries.

That left second year guard Luke Kennard and 2018 2nd round draft pick Bruce Brown as the other starters in game one, something that’s unlikely to continue once everyone’s healthy.

So, how do the Bulls even their record at 1-1 on Saturday? Here are my three keys:

1. Keep Drummond and Griffin off the offensive boards. This is much easier said than done. Drummond in particular is relentless going after missed shots, and his bulk will cause problems for 19 year old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Hoiberg hinted at possible line-up changes on Friday morning, which could include starting veteran Robin Lopez at center to battle Drummond inside. Griffin has turned into more of a jump shooter now and doesn’t have the multiple jump capability that characterized his early seasons in the NBA, but he’s still a threat to create 2nd shot opportunities.

2. Close out on three-point shooters. Of all the defensive issues for the Bulls in Philadelphia on Thursday, losing touch with shooters in transition was probably the most troublesome. Robert Covington seemed to be open at the three-point line throughout the game, and Bulls players struggled to handle cross-match situations. Kennard had one of the best games of his rookie season against the Bulls, and Jackson, Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are all capable of heating up from long distance.

3. Attack Detroit’s interior defense. The Bulls were at their best offensively in the first quarter against Philadelphia when they drove to the basket to set up easy scoring chances. Zach LaVine was getting to the rim at will in scoring 15 of his 30 points in the opening 12 minutes, and his penetration also set up Bobby Portis for open looks from the three-point line. Hopefully, Dunn will return to stabilize the point guard position and give the Bulls' first unit another shot creator so they can sustain their pace and scoring potential over four quarters.

Saturday’s home opener is definitely winnable against a Detroit team still finding its way under a new coaching staff. Better effort and attention to detail on the defensive end along with a fast-paced, drive and kick offensive attack should make for an exciting opening night at the United Center.

Make sure to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Kelly Crull and me for a special one hour edition of Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and the new My Teams app, followed by the play by play call with Neil Funk and Stacey King at 7 p.m. And, stay tuned after the final buzzer for reaction and analysis on an expanded edition of Bulls Postgame Live.