Bulls

Lakers made Bulls' Jimmy Butler uncomfortable; Will other teams follow suit?

Lakers made Bulls' Jimmy Butler uncomfortable; Will other teams follow suit?

Long, lanky defenders were in Jimmy Butler’s face Wednesday night as he would’ve liked a repeat of his 40-point gamer from the west coast swing 10 days ago.

Those same youthful defenders who were no match for Butler at the Staples Center grew up in a hurry in the Lakers’ 99-96 win at the United Center, holding Butler to a 4-for-18 night, limiting him to 22 points in 40 minutes.

Sometimes it was Luol Deng, Butler’s mentor during his early days in Chicago. Other times it was Jordan Clarkson or Brandon Ingram, neither of whom one would think could physically match up with Butler.

But they didn’t let Butler get used to one look and took the fact that he likes using the angles on the wings against him. Many of his shots were off-balance and his one-on-one situations where he could bulldoze lighter defenders were few and far between.

“I thought they were the more physical team in general. All across the board,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg when asked about the Lakers’ treatment of Butler.

Butler entered the game as the NBA’s 10th leading scorer at 25.8 points per game, and other teams will have to find some ways to slow him down considering how easy he can get to the free throw line and how well he’s shooting overall.

One wonders if it’s the type of treatment that will be duplicated by more defensively-adept teams with the personnel to play Butler even more effectively as he’s shooting 47 percent from the field and 40 from 3-point range.

Credit Luke Walton for such a diverse scheme that the Bulls didn’t have much of a counter for. The way the Lakers bounced off Butler during his relatively easy 40-point night wasn’t the case in the rematch.

“Last game because of what he did to us, we wanted to be much more aggressive on him which meant blitzing him on some pick and rolls,” Walton said. “We wanted to switch up our defensive schemes so he couldn’t get comfortable with what we were doing.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Even Lakers center Tarik Black, all 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds of him, found himself isolated on the perimeter but had plenty of help all over the floor. When Butler was doubled, the open shooters couldn’t convert, making the double-teams much more potent as the game wore on.

“They were aggressive. I missed a lot of shots but that’s what the gym is for,” Butler said.

When asked if he faced more double teams than in the past, he answered inquisitively.

“Did you see that,” queried Butler before finishing. “I thought they did, too. Good question.”

Bulls' guard Tomas Satoransky and his never-ending pursuit of perfection

Bulls' guard Tomas Satoransky and his never-ending pursuit of perfection

Tomas Satoransky is a perfectionist and a pleaser.

This can be a positive thing. It also can be negative.

“Everyone who is close to me will tell you that I’m hardest on myself. I always expect to play the best,” Satoransky said in an interview. “I always expect to be perfect, which isn’t always the best but in the long term it has always worked out for me.”

That’s because perfection is an unattainable quest. But Satoransky keeps working towards the unachievable goal. So he’s driven, which is good, but sometimes self-destructive, which isn’t.

Early on, as Satoransky slowly adjusted to a new city, new coach, new teammates and new system, the process didn’t go smoothly.

“I didn’t feel down. I felt frustrated and anxious to do better, anxious to help the team as much as he can,” coach Jim Boylen said when asked if he sensed frustration from Satoransky. “He really struggles when he lets the team down. That’s just basketball. You’re not going to play perfect all the time. He takes it to heart. I’ve spoken to him about it. I don’t need him to beat himself up. Just continue to grow and learn how we’re going to play and get used to guys. It does take some time to get a feel for each other.”

And it’s happening. Satoransky has posted nine straight games with at least five assists, the second-longest stretch of his young career. Coincidentally, his assist totals began to rise the more he looked for his shot.

“I think there’s a point where you make other people better, which he tries to do, and a point where you have to play your game. I think he’s starting to figure that out,” Boylen said. “I think he’s starting to understand where his spots are and how he makes people better but also doesn’t lose the positive things he can do individually.”

The selflessness of Satoransky is something that gets mentioned often by others when they’re asked about him. He’s someone who takes the time to read a situation before asserting himself, always trying to make the right play.

This dynamic was exacerbated by Satoransky not only joining a new team but doing so after playing a leading role for his Czech Republic national team at the FIBA World Cup this offseason.

“I think I’m very adaptable. But I won’t aggressively adapt. I’ll try to see what it is---new coaches, new offense---before asserting myself,” Satoransky said. “I knew I had to be patient, especially with a new team, new role. I’m also coming from a very different situation in the World Cup. And I’m trying to fit in and make my teammates feel the best and most comfortable around me. But I’m trying to be more aggressive because it opens up more space.

“I feel we’re more and more on the same page now.”

Satoransky’s averages of 9.6 points, 5.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 27.1 minutes are eerily similar to those he posted last season with the Wizards, his breakout season. In 80 games, including 54 starts for the injured John Wall, he averaged 8.9 points, 5 assists and 3.5 rebounds also in 27.1 minutes.

He’s shooting 39.7 percent on 3 3-point attempts per game---again very similar to last season’s 39.5 percent on 2 3-point attempts per game.

“I tell him he has to take his shots. He’s a threat,” Zach LaVine said. “He can shoot and create for others. Once he gets in the lane, he’s crafty. He isn’t just a spot-up 3-point shooter.”

Satoransky is in the first year of a three-year, $30 million deal that is only partially guaranteed in the final season. He said he is enjoying Chicago and playing for the Bulls.

“Everyone cares. We get along well,” Satoransky said. “This is my second NBA locker room, but I think this is one of the best groups I’ve had.”

Now, he just wants to improve the won-lost record to something closer to perfection.

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Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls lose to Warriors for 2nd time in 10 days

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USA TODAY

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls lose to Warriors for 2nd time in 10 days

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine react to the Bulls 100-98 loss to the Warriors

0:45 - Reaction to loss and Bulls losing to Warriors again

2:30 - On 4th quarter struggles

3:30 - On Zach LaVine’s game-winning shot attempt

5:20 - Viewer comments on Coby White starting

9:20 - Viewer comment on Denzel Valentine leads to Matt rant

10:20 - Viewer comment on Wendell Carter

12:10 - Viewer comment on Sato needing to be more aggressive

13:30 - Viewer comment on Luke Kornet

16:35 - Viewer comment on Denzel Valentine talking trash to Warriors

18:00 - On LaVine not being the issue

19:00 - On Otto Porter’s injury and being out indefinitely

22:10 - Viewer comment on Bulls being contenders

23:50 - Viewer comment asking why Matt is always angry

24:50 - Viewer asking Sabine how he feels about the Bears beating the Cowboys

26:20 - Which team is more likely to make playoffs, Bears or Bulls?

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

Bulls Outsiders

Subscribe:

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.