Kevin Love out for second round, Smith to miss two games


Kevin Love out for second round, Smith to miss two games

The Bulls weren’t going to get dragged into the conversation surrounding the expected losses the Cleveland Cavaliers suffered yesterday in their clinching win over the Boston Celtics, as they could lost
Kevin Love for the entire second round, it was announced late Monday afternoon.

And J.R. Smith was suspended for two games by the NBA, it was announced shortly after the news about Love came down, meaning he won’t be available until Game 3 of the next series, which could be at the United Center, assuming the Bulls take care of business against the Milwaukee Bucks.

As much as Joakim Noah isn’t a fan of anything Cleveland, he wasn’t doing cartwheels when asked about Love’s injury.

“Unfortunate. Very unfortunate,” Noah said. “You don’t want anybody getting hurt. You don’t wish that on nobody.”

In a statement, the Cavaliers said Love, after having his arm twisted by Celtics center Kelly Olynyk, had suffered an acute dislocation with torn labrum, certainly not an injury a player can come back from in a few days.

[RELATED - LeBron, Cavs advance, but could be shorthanded]

League sources reached by CSNChicago.com early Monday said a normal tear takes 4-6 weeks but if an MRI showed no significant damage, a player would have to decide if he could deal with the pain.

Unfortunately for Love, the MRI revealed real damage and it changes the complexion of a potential Bulls-Cavs series, which could begin next weekend in Cleveland.

That was more than Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would say on the matter, flatly answering “no” when asked if he had any thoughts on Noah’s injury. He repeated the same deadpan remark when asked about the possibility of Smith missing one or more games in Round 2 after his whack on Celtics swingman Jae Crowder, which earned Smith an ejection.

“No. I’m just worried about Milwaukee,” Thibodeau said. “I leave that to you guys. It’s the playoffs. It’s important to stay disciplined, concentrate on what we have to do. Let’s face it: It’s easy to get distracted if you let yourself get thrown off course. So I really haven’t thought about it.”

[MORE: Bulls feel they're in good shape against Bucks]

Nobody would’ve believed him if he said he didn’t watch the Cavs-Celtics game Sunday afternoon, so he didn’t dare fight that battle. Tempers flared before Smith’s altercation with Crowder, as Kendrick Perkins was in the middle of some rough play in the first half. Perkins is one of Thibodeau’s favorites from their days in Boston, where Thibodeau was an assistant to Doc Rivers, so he wasn’t surprised Perkins was an instigator.

“No. He’s a great competitor,” Thibodeau said. “When you put great competitors on the floor competing for the same thing, they’ll be some flare-ups.”

The Bulls and Bucks have had their share of emotional moments, resulting in flagrant fouls and technical fouls over the four games. Thibodeau wasn’t surprised at that breaking out in Boston.

“That’s usually playoff basketball,” Thibodeau said. “Boston played with desperation. Cleveland is tough. You’re going to have some flare-ups. With two teams competing for the same thing, that’s what happens.”

We've officially found the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever

We've officially found the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever

There are diehard Michael Jordan fans.

And then there's this guy.

Forget anybody getting a tattoo of their favorite team's championship trophy. Forget the people who wait for hours in terrible weather just to catch a glimpse of their favorite player.

This dude has a constant, 24/7 reminder of "His Airness":

Yep, that is a full tattoo of a Jordan "23" jersey on his back, complete with a Michael Jordan "autograph" in the middle of the "2." 

Dedication at its finest.

Couple questions: 

A) Does it carry over to the front at all? And if not, is that a plan for the future?

2) Will one of his buddies get a "45" Jordan jersey tattoo or are we just gonna continue to pretend that era never happened?

D) What will that tat look like in a few years? That guy better stay away from the Doritos...

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career


Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.