Bulls

Joakim Noah's activity a bright spot in Bulls' loss to Hornets

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Joakim Noah's activity a bright spot in Bulls' loss to Hornets

As one would assume the Bulls take the next three games to play with some kind of regular season intensity, Fred Hoiberg would likely bottle up whatever inspired Joakim Noah to perform with the kind of fervor Noah displayed against the Charlotte Hornets.

Certainly the Bulls’ 94-86 loss at Time Warner Cable Arena won’t mean anything in the big picture, nor will Noah’s overall numbers of 12 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.

But the spirit in which Noah played, and the fact he only had two made field goals, shows the kind of effect he can still have.

It wasn’t pretty with Noah and it still isn’t, but it was effective and impactful, as the Bulls played without Pau Gasol (rest) and of course, Derrick Rose.

[MORE: Hoiberg wants a more aggressive Jimmy Butler before season starts]

“Jo was very active,” Hoiberg said. “I thought he defended Al Jefferson very well, who’s a tough cover on the block. He was battling, he was active, enthusiastic on the bench.”

In the first half, Noah stripped Jefferson on his patented post move, ran the floor to catch a nifty bounce pass from Aaron Brooks for a dunk while beating the lumbering Jefferson downcourt.

“Yeah, I think I can do better,” Noah said. “I missed some free throws, missed some easy ones my teammates were giving me great looks. Could’ve had more.”

Then in the third quarter, he showed his intangibles, setting up Kirk Hinrich and Tony Snell for their first field goals by being a safety valve, setting quick screens so they could step into a dribble and easy jump shot.

“We all know how great of a player Jo is, we want him to continue to be aggressive and look to score,” said Jimmy Butler, who scored 18 in 37 minutes. “He passes incredibly well while playing defense on the other end. We want to keep his confidence high.”

Noah went to the foul line 11 times in the first half, due to his relentless activity and energy. The word “spry” could be used to describe his energy for the first time in quite some time.

It wasn’t enough to get the Bulls into any kind of consistent offensive flow, as they shot just 38 percent and missed 21 of their 27 three-pointers, most of which came in the second half as they mustered only 35 points.

[RELATED: Fred Hoiberg likes Doug McDermott coming off the Bulls' bench]

The slow pace led Hoiberg to say they took a step back, one that can’t be repeated too many times in the regular season.

“We were really good offensively in the first quarter (33 points), but from then on out we were not good at all,” he said. “Offensively we have to be better than that, we’ve been pretty good this preseason on that end. Tonight we didn’t play with any pace.”

Their perimeter defense was a problem early, as Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lin and P.J. Hairston all had their way with the Bulls guards, which should be to Hoiberg’s chagrin after his terse statement claiming he’s nowhere near happy with where the team’s defense is to date, following their loss to Detroit last week.

Most came in the first quarter, though, and the Bulls rebounded to hold the Hornets to 42 percent shooting, but didn’t convert offensively.

“We did a better job getting stops,” said Hoiberg, noting the Hornets shot 63 percent in the first. “I thought even when we got stops, we weren’t getting out on the break and pushing it back at them. For whatever reason, we decided to play a slow down game tonight.”

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Walker scored 22 and was bouncy enough to get Hinrich fouled out in just 18 minutes of run, while Lin had a more rounded evening, scoring 18 with seven rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes.

Noah wasn’t the only bright spot, though, as Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis again played well in different spurts. Gibson played beyond his 15-minute limit as he scored 14 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes, hitting his first four shots and missing just one on the night.

Bobby Portis again made his case for a spot in the rotation, with 12 points and eight boards in 19 minutes.

But with the exception of Butler, the Bulls guards struggled on both ends of the floor, leaving Hoiberg with as much cause for concern as he does optimism with his big man who didn’t look so old Monday night.

Former Bulls guard opens up about having depression

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Former Bulls guard opens up about having depression

During his NBA career, he was known as having a joking, outgoing, clown-type of personality. Now, former NBA point guard Nate Robinson opened up about having depression.

Robinson, an 11-year NBA veteran, told Bleacher Report that he began going to therapy sessions in the 2012-13 season when he played for the Bulls.

He said he would struggle with having an angel and a demon inside of him.

"The NBA gave me my depression," Robinson told Bleacher Report. "I've never been a depressed person in my life."

"The hardest thing in my whole life, of my 34 years in existence on earth, was dealing with 11 years in the NBA of trying to be somebody that [NBA coaches] want me to be," Robinson said.

When Robinson was with the Bulls, he said he would sit in front of the plane so he wouldn’t be tempted to crack jokes. His one year with the Bulls ended up being one of the top seasons statistically in his career. He averaged just over 13 points and four assists per game. He played in all 82 games (starting 23) on a team that finished 45-37 with a berth in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

He thought his behavior was always looked down upon, and Robinson thought he was being punished for his actions.

“It’s like Spider-Man, that Venom. I never wanted that Venom outfit to just consume me,” he says. “I wanted to be Spider-Man. I wanted to be positive. I never wanted that dark side to come out because I know what that dark side could do.” 

This might come as a surprise for NBA fans, knowing how energetic Robinson was on the court, no matter what team he was a part of.

Even though Robinson is just 5-foot-9, he brought a spark of energy when he came into the game.

He hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2015-16 season with the Pelicans and spent last year with the Delaware 87ers in the G League.

Robinson is known for his participation in the NBA Slam Dunk competition. He won three contests, going back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.

One highlight was Robinson jumping over Dwight Howard in 2009, which ultimately gave Robinson his third title. Another highlight is welcoming former 1986 Slam Dunk Champion Spud Webb on the floor in 2006 and jumping over him.

Robinson is still vying for a comeback to the NBA.

Bulls Talk Podcast: 2018 NBA Draft primer (and some Kawhi talk)

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Bulls Talk Podcast: 2018 NBA Draft primer (and some Kawhi talk)

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Strotman and Scott Phillips get you set for the 2018 NBA Draft. They put together their own mock draft, analyzing each of the first seven picks, analyze a handful of options the Bulls should look at at No. 22, and answer questions from Twitter. They also discuss the Kawhi Leonard trade rumors and whether the Bulls could put together a package that would entice San Antonio.