John Wall has a triple-double as Wizards embarrass Bulls in D.C.


John Wall has a triple-double as Wizards embarrass Bulls in D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Derrick Rose’s inbounds pass resulted in a give-and-go with Mike Dunleavy, but both Rose and Dunleavy were missing the crucial part of the unintended play — Rose getting his feet back inbounds.

Just when you think the Bulls are close to getting their feet back on solid ground, boom, John Wall embarrasses you with a triple-double performance.

Just when you think the Bulls are getting back to some form of relative health, boom, Taj Gibson grabs his already-tight right hamstring and heads to the locker room after gamely playing on it, missing the second half.

It wasn’t a contest for most of the night because the Bulls failed to contest anything the Washington Wizards did in the Wizards’ 117-96 win at the Verizon Center, as the Wizards surged to within 1 1/2 games of the eighth spot in the East currently occupied by the Bulls.

The Wizards put a 40-point whipping on the other team tied for eighth, the Detroit Pistons, two nights earlier.

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Clearly surging and playing at a different pace and speed was Wall, as you wonder if the Bulls were looking ahead to a four-game homestand starting Thursday night at the United Center.

If they were, Wall’s blur-like speed sent the Bulls back home, heads spinning. His eyes forced a cheating-over defense to leave shooters open on skip passes, leading to the Wizards hitting 13 triples at a 62-percent clip.

“It was an all-out sprint. Show a wall to Wall,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “And we didn’t do it. It’s a concerted effort to get back.”

Reserve Garrett Temple hit five of them and was perfect in the first half as the Wizards led by 11. Wall himself, a notoriously bad 3-point shooter, hit two of his own, and Otto Porter had three triples.

“It’s disappointing going into this game, the biggest key if you want to win this game is getting back into transition,” Hoiberg said. “It’s all we talked about.

“We didn’t get back, didn’t execute, and they got it right down our throats. Got right to the rim or spread it out for open shots. That was the game.”

Wall was at a different level, chasing down Jimmy Butler for a block on a fast break, hitting outside jumpers and despite his eight turnovers tattooing his name on the game, being a plus-38 while on the floor.

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And it didn’t help that the Bulls had turnover issues with 16 and issues altogether, as they shot under 40 percent and couldn’t do much right from the jump.

There was a little hope after a super-slow start, as the Bulls looked to restore order.

Rose’s drives in his first game back and some crisp execution resulted in a couple triples for Doug McDermott, as the Bulls took a 39-38 lead. It stretched to 43-38 on a Justin Holiday layup before it began to dramatically turn, predictably.

“We knew it was coming. That was a point of emphasis Fred stressed to us before the game,” said McDermott, who led the Bulls with 20. “We weren’t able to execute. That’s on us, not on him.”

It went downhill from there, as the Wizards erased the lead two minutes later and stretched it to 13 before halftime. It became evident Pau Gasol was a valuable piece as easy perimeter shots weren’t easy to find and those precious backdoor cuts he created with McDermott and Butler weren’t available.

Rose and Butler weren’t able to piece together consistent offense, making it easier for the Wizards’ defense to camp out in the lane and shut down minute driving lanes.

Butler shot 4-for-12 and Rose 7-for-19.

“I’m terrible,” Butler said. “I can’t make a shot as you can see, but it will come. I don’t expect it to right away, but I need it to come sooner rather than later. That’s why I’m here.”

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A lot of stagnant offense was the prevalent action, and the Wizards easily ran away.

“It hurts (McDermott) more than anything,” said Hoiberg of the lack of ball movement.  “A team like this, the pressures, you miss Pau. He had a triple-double the last time we played. Gotta play through the elbows.”

Cristiano Felecio and Bobby Portis had to play big minutes when Gibson went out in the second quarter after clutching his right hamstring, clearly ill-equipped to handle the physicality of Nene and the end-to-end speed of Wall.

“The guys that come in have to do their job,” Rose said. “We know that we want to be in the playoffs, and we have to take it one game at a time. Find ways to manipulate the game.”

They can’t manipulate the standings or the lack of healthy bodies in suits or away from the team — as the Wizards are yet another team breathing down their necks.

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


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


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.