Marathon on Madison: Pistons overtake Bulls in 4OT classic


Marathon on Madison: Pistons overtake Bulls in 4OT classic

The Pistons and Bulls battled for control of the East in a far away galaxy, a long time ago and after many years of inactivity there could be a true resurgence of a rivalry between the I-94 combatants.

And with the Pistons coming, sometimes the little breaks and big ones go in the other direction.

Like free throws.

Like loose balls that have a mind of their own.

It took more than 48 minutes, and more than 58 for the score to be settled but the Pistons took on everybody and came away with a win after the NBA’s second quadruple overtime game in 18 years with an 147-144 win at the United Center.

Six players played over 50 minutes of the available 68, and five players scored over 30 points, including Jimmy Butler’s career-high 43. Three Pistons fouled out, almost in succession in the fourth overtime but it wasn’t enough.

“The guys kept fighting,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Derrick, Pau and Jimmy kept it going all night, but unfortunately we didn’t get off to a good enough start in the fourth overtime.”

It looked to be over as the Pistons distanced themselves with a 7-0 run, and Butler hit a triple to cut it to one before made free throws gave him one final chance with 4.4 seconds left.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

But Butler couldn’t shake Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a good look, and his triple bounced harmlessly off the rim to give the Pistons a 2-0 edge over their rivals this season—the first being a measly one-OT affair in Detroit.

Butler said he was late setting a screen that he wound up flaring off of by a millisecond, giving the defender a chance to recover before the possibility of a fifth overtime came to fruition.

“That’s why it was contested,” Butler said. “I think every shot I shoot has a chance. Nothing I can do about it now.”

The Bulls couldn’t control the big-little tandem of Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, as Jackson repeatedly attacked the Bulls down the stretch — well, down the stretches of this classic game.

Jackson rebounded from missing three buzzer-beaters to finally wear down the Bulls, scoring 33 with 13 assists to go head up with Rose, who produced his best game of the year with 34 points and seven assists.

Drummond fouled out in the fourth overtime, but not before he turned the game on its ear with 33 points and 21 rebounds in 55 minutes. Drummond and Gasol (30 points, 15 rebounds, five assists) battled all night, as Drummond led with his athleticism and youth while Gasol had his guile and experience putting Drummond in foul trouble, calling for an offensive foul on one play and getting it a couple times down later.

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“They put a lot of pressure on the rim with Drummond,” Butler said. “He’s good. I think he’s gonna be an All-Star. He’ll be one of the best centers to play this game if he continues to work.”

Tired legs, weary minds and exhaustion kicked in well before the fourth overtime began, and the Bulls will be kicking themselves on the way to New York for Saturday night’s game against the Knicks for a couple reasons.

Rose, after attacking the Pistons defense all night, settled for a 15-foot jumper in regulation as opposed to driving it to the basket — similar to what he did in Detroit in their first meeting on Oct. 30.

“We wanted him to attack but they played him well,” Hoiberg said. “We tried to slip a screen and confuse the switch. They stayed with it and made a heck of a defensive play.”

Rose forced Jackson into misses at the end of two overtimes that made up for his missed jumper in regulation, giving the Bulls second, third and fourth chances at getting control of the game.

At the end of the second overtime the Bulls had a timeout remaining after Jackson’s missed jumper left 2.4 seconds on the clock but they didn’t take it, leaving Tony Snell to fire up an 88-footer that went long

"It was a decision where looking back on it, I should've used it, absolutely," Hoiberg said of not taking the timeout. "I look back on that one for sure.”

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said neither he nor Hoiberg put on an offensive coaching clinic, as both coaches stuck with their regulars through the extra sessions. Joakim Noah played seven seconds after regulation ended, and it was hard keeping Doug McDermott on the floor considering the Pistons attacked him at every opportunity, so Tony Snell played 38 minutes.

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“I thought we had the guys in there that would give us the best opportunity to win the game,” Hoiberg said.

Twenty-two-year old Caldwell-Pope had enough gas down the stretch to hit two crucial triples in the second and fourth OT’s, along with defending Rose and Butler at crucial times to aid in the Pistons stealing a win and ending the Bulls’ four-game winning streak.

Neither side led by more than eight, and each had gripes down the stretch with the officials and each other as fatigue set in. Gasol clearly looked gassed in the last two overtimes, barely able to jump after banging with Drummond all night.

Gasol’s recovery of a Rose loose ball after Rose lost it mid-air resulted in him getting fouled by Ersan Ilyasova with 32 seconds left and hitting two free throws to give the Bulls a 105-103 lead in regulation before the Pistons recovered themselves to send it to overtime.

But it was more to come, even as Rose’s most impactful and devastating performance, albeit on 34 shots, became a mere subplot to a wonderful finish neither side should be ashamed of.

But, boy, will they feel it on the plane out of town.

Wendell Carter Jr. is now 6 feet, 9 inches---and other Bulls' height adjustments

USA Today

Wendell Carter Jr. is now 6 feet, 9 inches---and other Bulls' height adjustments

With player heights long a topic of question and debate, the NBA informed teams that all players must be measured by a team physician this training camp.

It’s all part of the league’s push towards transparency, which includes detailed reports on officiating and other initiatives.

So who grew and who shrank among the Bulls?

Wendell Carter Jr. dropped from 6 feet, 10 inches to 6-foot-9, which will do nothing to change the narrative that he's an undersized big man. Kris Dunn moved from 6-4 to 6-3. Daniel Gafford isn’t 6-11, as first advertised when drafted, but 6-10. And Denzel Valentine is no longer 6-6 but 6-4.

The Bulls even pushed down Coby White’s flamboyant hairstyle and discovered he’s 6-4, not 6-5.

As for those who grew, well, Zach LaVine’s All-Star candidacy now features him as a 6-6 guard, not 6-5. New big man Luke Kornet is really big; he’s 7-2, not 7-1. And Shaq Harrison somehow grew from 6-4 to 6-7.

That’s the official Bulls’ roster. 

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Insider K.C. Johnson calls Bulls the 'sexy pick' to make the postseason but tempers expectations

Insider K.C. Johnson calls Bulls the 'sexy pick' to make the postseason but tempers expectations

On the 2019 NBA Preview Show, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down what it would truly take for the Bulls to make the jump into playoff contention following a particularly tough 22-win season. 

Johnson, like most of the national NBA landscape, is optimistic about the prospects of the 2019-20 Bulls. He stated that it is "widely accepted that they had a pretty strong offseason," but cautioned us against simply penciling in the Bulls for a playoff spot this season. 

Despite the additions of savvy veterans like Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young, the Bulls still enter the 2019-20 NBA regular season as the second-youngest team in the NBA, as good of a reason as any to temper expectations.

That being said, the Bulls, from a simple talent standpoint, are much better than last year's squad that featured a ton of injuries and many Windy City Bulls/NBA G League call-ups. 

With a new coaching staff around head coach Jim Boylen and a new offensive philosophy, things will be very different in Chicago this season.

But as Johnson stated in Tuesday's 2019 NBA Preview Show, for the Bulls to achieve their ultimate goal of reaching the postseason, "basically, all of those [free agent] additions need to hit.

"You need to see Tomas Satoransky prove that he can be a full-time starter at that point guard position, you need to see Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen take a step towards stardom, you need to see Otto Porter Jr. stay healthy enough to contribute at that small forward position and you need to see Wendell Carter Jr. hit the two-way potential that the organization believes he has... and Coby White... needs to bring you something off the bench."

If that sounds like a lot, that's because it is and it appropriately represents the amount of work needed to make the leap from 22-wins to a playoff spot. 

What the Bulls have working on their side as of now is that everything we have seen and heard from the team throughout preseason has indicated that there is good shot that every one of the things K.C. Johnson named happens. 

Carter was limited to just 44 games due to injury last season and while he has looked rusty in the preseason, he has also had some explosive finishes and shown his trademark appetite for help defense and blocked shots. Carter blocked 2.0 shots per game over two preseason games but was abysmal in terms of his offensive efficiency (26.7% from the field), something to keep an eye on throughout the first week of regular-season games. 

Boylen recently made comments about managing Porter's workload, so clearly keeping Porter healthy amid the backdrop of the Bulls questionable wing depth is already something the organization has discussed and seems to have a concrete plan for. 

Satoransky has shown that he can comfortably handle the starting duties at the one as Johnson suggested, averaging 7.5 points, 4.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game while being lights-out from 3-point range (80% on 1.2 attempts per game). And while Sato represents the steady hand, Coby White represents the true "boom-or-bust" option in the backcourt, capable of going off for 25+ points or fading into the background while playing more of an off-ball role. 

The factor that Johnson mentioned that will have the greatest impact on the 2019-20 Bulls season is if Markkanen and LaVine can take a step towards superstardom.

LaVine looks clearly poised to do so, finishing the preseason third in the league in scoring at 23.2 points per game on 59.3/56.0/ 83.3 shooting splits. Markkanen, on the other hand, struggled to find his shot and despite being one of the top-three scoring options on the team, struggled to get his scoring average just over 11.0 points per game (11.2). 

It is only preseason action, so all results are to be taken with a grain of salt. But as we gear up for the start of the Bulls games that count on Wednesday, it is clear that the national outlook on the Bulls is much rosier than it has been in the past.

Johnson stated that the Bulls are indeed shaping up as a "sexy pick" to make the playoffs and that alone is a monumental step in the right direction as the franchise looks to put last season's disappointment further in the rearview mirror. 

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