Joakim Noah scores season-high 21 but Bulls fall to Knicks


Joakim Noah scores season-high 21 but Bulls fall to Knicks

By Josh Newman

NEW YORK - For a brief time Saturday night against the New York Knicks, it appeared the Chicago Bulls would show no ill-effects of playing four overtimes Friday night, followed by a middle-of-the-night flight and arriving at the team hotel at 4:15 a.m.

Those hopes turned out to be short-lived.

The Bulls raced out to a 12-2 at the 9:25 mark of the first quarter, but the Knicks swiftly erased that, led by seven after one, as many as 15 in the first half, and cruised to a 107-91 win in front of a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden.

“You can’t completely write this one off (on travel),” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We got back to having a very stagnant game. We didn’t get the ball moving with the exception of when we got up 12-2. We had great pace, the ball was moving and after that, we got back to standing and stagnant.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

After winning the first four games of a five-game homestand, the Bulls have now dropped consecutive games, including Friday night’s 147-144 quadruple-overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons. In that Friday loss, Jimmy Butler played 56 minutes, Derrick Rose 54 and Pau Gasol 48. Gasol did not accompany the team to New York.

With Gasol out, Joakim Noah stood out as one of the Bulls’ few bright spots, finishing with 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting to along with 10 rebounds in his first start of the season. Noah had scored just 88 total points over his first 23 games.

“Games like this, you have to stick to your principles, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Noah said. “It felt good to play, especially back home, but I’m disappointed that we lost.”

Butler and Rose, two of the Bulls’ three leading scorers, combined for just 18 points on 7-for-21 shooting.

The Knicks were paced by a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds from Carmelo Anthony as they shot 50 percent from the field. The Bulls shot 39.4 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range.


2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition


2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

The Bulls and Bobby Portis were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension by today’s deadline, which will make the power forward a restricted free agent next offseason.

According to The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, Portis’ agent Mark Bartelstein and Gar Forman had “lengthy face-to-face negotiations” on Monday prior to the deadline. The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement.

The negotiations – and lack of a deal – come after a summer and training camp in which Portis continued to show progression. After beginning the preseason coming off the bench Portis quickly played his way into the starting lineup alongside rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Portis finished five preseason games averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 22.4 minutes.

Portis, the 22nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, has seen his role increase each of his three seasons. He made a jump last season in Year 3, averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.5 minutes. He was one of three players, including DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love, to average 21 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 3-pointers per 36 minutes.

Though the Bulls certainly had the room to sign Portis to an extension, there were obvious reasons on both sides to wait on a deal. For starters, the Bulls will still be able to match any deal Portis receives in free agency next July, much like what happened with Zach LaVine and the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls maintain their abundance of cap space for the 2019 offseason, when they’ll be able to offer a max contract to the top-tier free agents, and they get to see if Portis makes another jump.

For Portis, it’s a case of him betting on himself. If the Bulls came in with a number he wasn’t satisfied with – to help keep their max cap space – he now finds himself on a contract year playing for his next contract. Still only 23 years old, Portis should cash in in July.

Two players from Portis’ draft class were able to cash in. Pacers center Myles Turner signed a reported four-year, $80 million extension and Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal. Portis likely would have fallen somewhere in between those two deals had an agreement occurred.

The Bulls are hardly in an easy situation with Portis. Though they value the versatile power forward, Lauri Markkanen is entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future and the team just spent last year’s No. 7 overall pick on center Wendell Carter Jr. Portis realistically is stuck behind both those players, though he certainly has starting level NBA talent.