Bulls

Lifeless Bulls fall to Cavaliers in series-clincher

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Lifeless Bulls fall to Cavaliers in series-clincher

Whether it was surprising or shocking, the Bulls’ season ended with a dud in a manner nobody expected, allowing the Cleveland Cavaliers to dance over their home floor for the better part of the second half in a desperation game.

After telling anyone who would listen they were one possession away in the last two losses, the Bulls left no doubt in their season-ending 94-73 loss at the United Center Thursday night, in perhaps their worst home showing of the season.

Now the speculation begins about everybody’s future, starting with coach Tom Thibodeau, as many expect he and the Bulls to part ways this offseason—and the season ended with the Cavaliers exercising tenets that used to be a hallmark of vintage Thibodeau squads.

It wasn’t a LeBron James classic game or classic finish, nor did Kyrie Irving hobble around after hitting kill shot after kill shot. It was “the others” who led the way for the Cavaliers, the players who did all the little things many believed Bulls would be better at.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Like effort, which produces extra possessions or unknown heroes like Matthew Dellavedova, whose 19 points was good enough to outscore every Chicago Bull except Jimmy Butler—and Butler had to take 22 shots to get that.

Dellavedova, who was nothing more than a nuisance after Game 5 due to his scrum with Taj Gibson, became a Cavaliers folk hero as he helped put the Bulls away.

Dellavedova, J.R. Smith and James Jones hit three triples each, while the Bulls mustered just four as a team.

“I thought their bench played really well,” Thibodeau said. “When you couple the bench with LeBron, he’s going to make you pay.”

They barely had enough life to produce more than a spark, but nobody expected their most lopsided effort when they needed it most. They scored 31 in the first quarter, but only combined for 29 in the next two quarters, shooting 32 percent while the Cavs ran away with it.

The turnovers and missed opportunities added up, coupled with the mistakes of allowing standstill shooters to beat them doing the only thing that makes them useful on a patchwork Cavaliers roster.

The game-turning fouls at the most inopportune times, illustrated by Nikola Mirotic unnecessarily clotheslining Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert with 5:19 left in the first half and the Bulls trailing by one.

[MORE: LeBron lauds Dellavedova's, Thompson's effort in Game 6 win]

It riled up Shumpert, who scored the next two possessions after his flagrant foul free throw, and led to the Cavaliers rushing the Bulls for a 20-2 run to end the half. All with Irving on the bench after injuring his left knee early in the second quarter and James returning to Earth after his superhuman effort in Game 5.

“The 2nd quarter has been a problem for us the whole series,” Thibodeau said. “That (sequence) took a lot out of us, but I thought the fight was in there in the third.”

When your opposition scores five points in the first seven minutes of a quarter you have to win, yet extend their lead, it’s no wonder the Bulls are going home. Same goes for allowing Tristan Thompson to muscle his way up, around and through Bulls defenders for 17 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

Derrick Rose started out fast, as he did in game 5 but sputtered afterwards, finishing with 14 points and six assists. Pau Gasol gave the Bulls a temporary boost by his presence, but it was nothing more than ceremonial as his teammates didn’t show up.

“I want to say this about Derrick: This was a long year for Derrick,” Thibodeau said. “The good thing is, I think he has regained his confidence. You have to remember, he hasn’t played in three post-seasons. Getting this experience is really good for him.”

[ALSO: Shumpert hitting his stride in unexpected role for Cavs]

James, a fixture in not only the postseason but is becoming the face of June, orchestrated things to the tune of 15 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, while Irving only played 12 minutes before injuring his left knee.

He wasn’t needed, and the Bulls enter into an offseason with a meek effort that saw them get outrebounded by 21, shoot 37 percent from the field while allowing 12 3-pointers from the visitors.

With no doubt being left by both the Cavaliers and Bulls, they can enter into an offseason with nothing else but clear directives on what’s to come—starting with the man on the sidelines.

“Until they tell me I’m not, I expect to be here,” Thibodeau said.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Kendall Gill on boxing broadcasting, debate over the East’s top team

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Kendall Gill on boxing broadcasting, debate over the East’s top team

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson discuss Kendall’s broadcast career in boxing and the latest NBA news.

0:45 - Kendall on calling the Pacquiao fight

2:10 - On seeing Pacquiao up close and a new appreciation for his skill

4:05 - KG on his crossover in his 50+ basketball league and tagging Vincent Goodwill

6:18 - Reaction to Carlos Boozer getting cut his from his Big 3 team

8:40 - Kendall on Thad Young getting Team USA invite and why he’d decline it

12:18 - On Wendell Carter Jr passing on throwing out the first pitch at the White Sox game Monday night

13:50 - On Kyle Korver signing with the Bucks

15:20 - Debating who’s the favorite in the East: Bucks or Sixers?

19:30 - On Ricky O’Donnell and his quote on Arci and White

21:30 - Challenge of Boylen keeping his players happy with the rotation

22:30 - On Bulls bringing Shaq Harrison back and having 5 point guards

25:45 - Why stretching Felicio is unlikely at this point in the offseason

26:44 - On Tim Duncan becoming an assistant coach with the Spurs

30:20 - No Justin Holiday return to the Bulls

31:00 - On the Lakers signing Giannis’ younger brother

Listen to the entire podcast here or the embedded player below.

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Bulls forward Thaddeus Young invited to USA Basketball training camp for 2019 FIBA World Cup

Bulls forward Thaddeus Young invited to USA Basketball training camp for 2019 FIBA World Cup

Thaddeus Young could don one more different jersey before he hits the court with the Bulls for the first time.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Young has been invited to participate in USA Basketball's training camp roster for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Team USA has seen several star NBA players withdraw their name for consideration from the team in recent days, including Wizards guard Bradley Beal and 76ers forward Tobias Harris. Thus, there is at least a small chance that Young makes the final roster, which would be the fourth-straight World Cup in which a Bull plays for Team USA

Derrick Rose donned the stars and stripes in both 2010 and 2014, following Kirk Hinrich in 2006 and Jay Williams in 2002. Perhaps Bulls guard Zach LaVine will be the next player to receive an invite?

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.