Noah's, Brooks' energy spark Bulls in come-from-behind win


Noah's, Brooks' energy spark Bulls in come-from-behind win

The energy in the United Center was lagging and at every chance the Bulls squandered at building some positive momentum, it seemed more and more likely they’d continue their usual pattern of following up an exhilarating win with a puzzling loss.

But enter Aaron Brooks and Joakim Noah, members of the Bulls’ bench, who brought the requisite energy and turned the tables in what could’ve or should’ve been another disappointing Bulls effort, resulting in their 98-94 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

It seemed to happen in a flash, the man who was buried on the bench for a few games after recovering from a hamstring injury on the west coast and the forgotten man in Fred Hoiberg’s new ball-movement scheme, relegated to being a reserve after being a proud starter for so long.

It was Noah picking up a loose ball, or battling all-world forward Anthony Davis on the block or snatching one of his nine rebounds, all of which seemed to come at crucial times.

Then in that same flash, Noah blowing by Davis with a left-to-right swim move, fluidly going down the lane for a dunk that caught everybody in the building off-guard, followed by a show of emotion that made Hoiberg believe Noah was going to jump into the stands out of joy.

“I thought he was going to run into the crowd and chest-bump people,” Hoiberg said. “In a game like this we need a guy like Noah who can pick up the energy. On the bench he was yelling and screaming and foaming at the mouth.”

The natural question that usually follows such a statement is why won’t he start Noah, but with the way he’s shuffled lineups so far, one can’t rule it out even if conventional wisdom says you can’t start Noah and Pau Gasol together.

[MORE: Bulls rally in fourth quarter to top Davis, Pelicans]

Noah finished with 10 points, his first double-digit scoring game of the season, with nine rebounds, four blocks and two assists. Not to mention he harassed Davis into a terrible night, something only he can do when you consider the frontcourt members don’t carry Noah’s defensive intensity aside from Taj Gibson—but Gibson isn’t tall or long enough to bother Davis.

“He guarded Davis as well as he can be guarded,” Hoiberg said.

His 30 minutes of playing time was second to playing 35 minutes against the Nuggets 10 days ago, and his pride is still brimming.

"It's not one of those things I can control, so I'm just trying to make the most of what I have," Noah said of playing time. "Everybody wants minutes. It's no secret in the NBA that everybody wants minutes."

Brooks would love to complain about getting just 20-some minutes a game. He’d been playing behind E’Twaun Moore and Kirk Hinrich the last three games, even after he was declared healthy from a hamstring injury he suffered in Phoenix on the west coast trip.

Hitting three fourth-quarter triples, along with his running, leaning hook shot over the outstretched arms of Alexis Ajinca with 40 seconds left to give the Bulls a two-point lead.

Brooks scored 15 of his 17 in the fourth, hitting six of seven shots from the field. Playing with Derrick Rose gives the Bulls another element of speed, pace and versatility offensively.

“Aaron was awesome,” Hoiberg said. “That whole second unit saved the day for us. They went in and took over the game.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Doug McDermott hit a couple jumpers in the second quarter to shake the Bulls from a game-long lethargy, cutting a double-digit deficit in half, so his contributions shouldn’t be ignored.

“I feel good, just staying confident and shooting when I’m open,” he said. “We showed fight down the stretch. Even when things aren’t going out way, we’ve found a way to win the last few games which is good because we beat two good teams from the West.”

Hoiberg plans to show the disastrous first quarter and the fourth back to back in Sunday’s practice to show his team the difference in ball movement, intensity and confidence.

One wonders if he’ll draw other conclusions during said film session.

Making of a Chicago legend: A look back at Jabari Parker's decorated Simeon career


Making of a Chicago legend: A look back at Jabari Parker's decorated Simeon career

From the moment Jabari Parker started his local basketball career, he's been a special talent who has produced at every level. Parker's signing with the Chicago Bulls this offseason brings back a lot of memories of his decorated four-year high school career at Simeon.

For Bulls fans who didn't follow Parker before Duke or the NBA, here's some of the notable moments from four years in the Public League.

As a freshman with the Wolverines, Parker was seen as one of three big incoming freshman in the area for the Class of 2013, along with forward Alex Foster and center Tommy Hamilton. Although all three players had the size and skill level to be varsity contributors, it was Parker who was special from his debut game.

Coming off the bench for a top-5 Simeon team against a top-10 Thornton team at Chicago State, Parker had 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting with two 3-pointers as the Wolverines went on to win in his first game in high school. Eventually becoming the first Wolverine freshman to start on varsity, Parker piled up high-major scholarship offers and national acclaim, as he was the team's second-leading scorer behind Brandon Spearman.

But Parker was hurt on the eve of the IHSA Class 4A state championship weekend and was on the bench injured as Simeon went on to surprisingly win the state title after some late-season slip-ups. Parker contributed heavily to Simeon winning the state title during his first season, however, as he was leading scorer in six games during that season.

During his sophomore season, Parker blossomed from a prospect into a full-blown star as Simeon once again captured a state title. By this point in his career, Parker was a consensus top-5 national high school prospect in his class as he regularly led a loaded Simeon team in scoring. Parker eventually averaged 15.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as he won ESPN High School 2011 Sophomore of the Year national honors, while also Simeon won a title at the prestigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament.

The summer of 2011 saw Parker become a contender for No. 1 in his class -- and regardless of class at the high school level -- as he dominated the summer circuit against his peers and older players.

Making the 2011 USA Basketball U16 team, Parker won MVP honors at the FIBA Americas U16 Tournament as the USA team captured a gold medal. Parker also had big performances at the Kevin Durant and LeBron James Skill Academies before winning the MVP at the Nike Global Challenge in August against mostly older players.

Before entering his junior season at Simeon, some national scouts believed Parker was the best prospect in either the junior or senior national classes. With Parker garnering so many accomplishments as an underclassman, he had a huge reputation already as Simeon was an established national powerhouse.

Parker helped the Wolverines capture a third straight state title, a city title and another title at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, as they went 33-1. Simeon didn't lose to an Illinois opponent Parker's junior year (they only lost to nationally ranked Findlay Prep) with Parker setting a school record of 40 points in only 21 minutes against Perspectives on Dec. 19. For his junior season, Parker put up 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds per game as he became the first non-senior to win Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors.

Gatorade also declared Parker the national boys basketball Player of the Year for that high school season as he became only the fourth non-senior to win that award. Sports Illustrated put Parker on its cover and proclaimed him as the best high school basketball player since LeBron James.

Facing an enormous amount of pressure during his senior year, Simeon played a national schedule and went 30-3, winning a fourth consecutive IHSA state title with Parker as he put up 18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

Becoming the only player besides Sergio McClain to start on four straight IHSA state title teams, Parker secured back-to-back Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors while also making the McDonald's All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Hoop Summit. Parker played all over the country during his senior season, with nationally-televised games and packed crowds filled with fans.

Reclassifications and the emergence of other contenders, coupled with Parker's foot injury before his senior season, dropped Parker below the No. 1 ranking to end his high school career. But he still finished as a consensus top-5 prospect in the class who eventually rose to the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft in 2014.

Now that Parker has signed with the Bulls, he has a chance to resurrect his career in Chicago, the place where he had his most basketball success.

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

According to Bleacher Report, Wendell Carter Jr. would be taken fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies if the NBA were to redraft this year’s class based off of Summer League performances.

It may sound like a crazy concept (and it is), but Carter Jr. averaged the second most points, 14.6, through five July games in Las Vegas. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field while averaging 28.8 minutes in his glamorous first-stint with Chicago. Those numbers are even more striking if you consider Carter Jr.’s 42.9 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

Carter Jr., the real seventh overall pick of this year’s NBA Draft, looked like the all-around player the Bulls were hoping to get this offseason. He made his blocking abilities as a center known from the moment he stepped on the court in Summer League.

In their re-draft, Bleacher Report had Chicago using the No. 7 pick on the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, who was actually taken 36th overall in last month’s Draft.

Robinson, a center, averaged 13 points and 24.8 minutes per game over five Summer League contests. He was the best rebounder on his team with an average of 10.2 in the five games that the Knicks played.

The 20-year-old took the second most shots on the Knicks and had the highest field goal percentage at 67 percent, but Robinson did not have any three-point attempts.  What made his recent production seem even more surprising was the fact that the 7'1'' big man did not play a single minute of college basketball.

But would Robinson fit in the Bulls’ system?

Chicago has taken on an offense-first mentality, so Robinson would not be as great of a fit in the Bulls lineup as Carter Jr., but he would still be an impact player. He can be compared to the Bulls’ current center Robin Lopez, who averaged a similar amount of points per game (11.8 points in 26.4 minutes) last season as Robinson’s Summer League average (13 points in 24.8 minutes). And like Lopez, Robinson will likely be most effective around the basket and in the pick-and-roll.

Robinson would also have to learn the defensive concepts that a veteran like Lopez has mastered over his 10-year career.

Next season, the Bulls will have an exciting scoring trio of Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen and Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. And the fact that Carter Jr. is getting so much love in the national spotlight is yet another reason for Bulls fans to be excited about this upcoming season.