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 Talk Podcast: Special guest 5-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Special guest 5-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Jason Goff is joined by Chicago native and former NBA star Tim Hardaway

1:10       On how a Chicago kid went to play college basketball in Texas

6:15       On growing up a Bulls fan

9:20       What did Chicago basketball make Tim?

16:30    On starting his NBA career in Golden State

22:30    On the 90’s dynasty era Bulls and what he appreciated about them

25:25    Which players did he enjoy playing against the most

26:50    On today’s game and the point guard position

29:15    On the influence of analytics on today’s NBA

34:15    On balancing what a player’s skills are vs what the system wants

38:00    On Zach LaVine and his ceiling as a player

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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What to watch for: Bulls look to extend two-game win streak with Warriors in town

What to watch for: Bulls look to extend two-game win streak with Warriors in town

The Bulls get a shot at revenge against the lowly Warriors Friday night in Chicago. The game tips at 7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago — until then, here's what to watch for:

Warriors’ last five (1-4)

  • Dec. 4 — L at Hornets: 106-91

  • Dec. 2 — L at Atlanta: 104-79

  • Dec. 1 — L at Magic: 100-96

  • Nov. 29 — L at Heat: 122-105

  • Nov. 27 — W vs. Bulls: 104-90

One storyline for each team

After defeating the Bulls 104-90 in San Francisco on Nov. 27, the Warriors embarked on a five-game road trip that has featured visits to Charlotte, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, and now Chicago. Their first four stops ended in losses of varying severity to competition of varying quality (though mostly subpar). Tonight, they cap that swing with their fifth game in eight nights against the Bulls. D’Angelo Russell is back — he returned in their last game against the Hornets and dropped 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting — but that’s about all Golden State has going for them right now.

This goes without saying, but the Bulls need to pounce on this game — an eminently winnable one — especially with a road-and-home back-to-back against the Heat and Raptors looming early next week. In each of the two games of their current win streak (against the Kings and Grizzlies) they’ve gotten out to commanding first-half leads, then allowed their opponent to claw their way back late in the game. Their offensive execution down the stretch of the last two has been sublime (thanks, Zach LaVine), but substantive progress would mean a comfortable win, at home, tonight — especially having already lost to this Warriors team this season.

In the event that this game isn't comfortable (which feels more likely), look out for another Zach LaVine takeover. He's averaging an NBA-leading 10.3 points per game in fourth quarters since Nov. 23 (Charlotte game), shooting 54.3% from the field (5.8 attempts) and 68.8% from three (2.7 attempts). Him catching fire isn't something you want to miss.

Player to watch: D’Angelo Russell

Russell presents a challenge unlike any the Bulls faced when they played this team a little over a week ago. He's a crafty ball-handler, and can pull and drain from long-range from any spot, at any time and under any amount of durress. When he plays, the ball is in his hands a staggering amount — per Cleaning the Glass, his 34.8% usage rate is in the 98th percentile of ball-handlers in the league.

The Bulls have the personnel to hone in and give him fits, between Tomas Satoransky and Kris Dunn — if their length and activity can get Russell out of rhythm, the rest of the Warriors mistfit-laden roster will have to beat them. Granted, Golden State has done it before, and in convincing fashion for that matter. But the Bulls hope two straight encouraging performances in a row are an indication of things to come. This is also a great game to monitor how the Bulls defend Russell's pick-and-roll; he's currently averaging 3.3 turnovers per game.

Final point: Russell's misadventures on the defensive side of the ball are well-documented, so look for LaVine and Satoransky to attempt to feast on that end, as well. The Bulls mustered only 90 points against the Warriors 27th-rated defense on Nov. 27, but LaVine and Satoransky were lone bright spots, accounting for 45 combined points and seven threes.

Matchup to watch: The paint

One of the smudges on the Bulls' 106-99 win over the Grizzlies on Wendesday was the performance of Jonas Valanciunas, who totaled 32 points and 13 rebounds in his first game back from illness. He was absolutely bruising, and the Grizzlies racked up 52 points in the paint (compared to the Bulls' 32). That number is well above the Bulls' season average of 49.9 points allowed in the paint per game, which ranks 23rd in the NBA.

That figure might surprise some, given that the team anchors its defense with a versatile and heady center in Wendell Carter Jr. and a jumpy shot-blocking backup in Daniel Gafford. Jim Boylen has pointed to isolated blocks from Gafford and Carter, as well as 'our guys competed'-isms when asked about their struggles in that department. The Warriors have a roster stilted towards bigs and interior forwards, and notched 52 points in the paint in their last matchup with the Bulls, behind solid performances from Eric Paschall, Omari Spellman and Marquese Chriss. Thad Young missing tonight's game with a personal issue won't help here.

Further, these aren't your mother's Warriors. They're not a prolific shooting team and don't have the same plethora of perimeter shot-creators they once did. They're going to try to out-muscle the Bulls tonight, as they did on Nov. 27, and it's worth monitoring how much resistance the hosts put up.

Injury/miscellaneous updates

Bad news on the Otto Porter Jr. front today: The Bulls starting small forward and most solid wing defender suffered another setback, as a repeat MRI revealed a continued bone edema (i.e. swelling). He’ll be re-evaluated in another two weeks. Chandler Hutchison is still working out and running — and getting better each day, according to Boylen — but there’s still no precise timetable on his return.

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