Noah's first triple-double leads Bulls destruction of Bucks


Noah's first triple-double leads Bulls destruction of Bucks

In a game that had about as much energy as you would expect with both teams looking forward to some much needed rest -- from what has been a grueling early-season schedule -- the Bulls (27-8) continued their winning ways at the United Center with a 110-91 win over the Milwaukee Bucks (13-20).

Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau talked about the difficulties of facing a four-day break before the Bulls return to action next Tuesday at home against the New Orleans Hornets.

The challenge is to not go on the break before the break actually starts and then when you do come back, its the same thing; its to be ready and not stay on break, said Thibodeau before the game. Youre faced with that challenge, but its good to get the break so you can get some rest. The important thing is to make sure you dont do it early and you dont stay late.

The win was Chicagos seventh straight against their Central Division foe, with their last loss against the Bucks coming on April 6, 2010 when they lost 79-74 at the United Center.

Joakim Noah recorded his first career triple-double by scoring 13 points to go along with 10 assists and 13 rebounds. All five starters for Chicago finished in double-figures in scoring.

With his 27th birthday just three days away, the fifth-year center was happy with his milestone becoming the 23rd player in franchise history to post a triple-double and first Bulls center since Artis Gilmore to accomplish the feat but more so with the win.

I think that the only reason I was able to do it is because Milwaukee was trying to get the ball out of Derricks hands, said Noah. When they put two on Derrick, Im just making plays off of that. Its really because of him that Im able to make plays.

Its a very humbling accomplishment but were playing for more than that.

Carlos Boozer scored a team-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds and Derrick Rose scored 16 points on 6 of 13 shooting and handed out seven assists in 30 minutes of action.

The Bulls dominated the glass, outrebounding the Bucks 49-29 and finished with 32 assists. They are now 16-0 when they register more than 23 assists in a game.

I loved the way the ball moved, said Thibodeau. We were a little careless, our turnovers were high. That was probably the only thing that couldve been better. I thought our inside guys were very good to start. Carlos got established in the post, Jo was terrific with his playmaking.

Noah notched the triple-double towards the end of the third quarter after a dunk led to a three-point play for him and put the Bulls up 91-73. He followed that up by knocking down a 19-foot jumper as the quarter expired and celebrated with his traditional finger guns celebration.

The fourth quarter would simply be a formality as the Bulls rested their starters -- outside of Luol Deng who logged 5:35 of playing time during the period -- and the Bulls lead climbed to as much as 22 points.

With four days off until the team gets back together next Monday, Thibodeau was able to be reflective on the progress of his team at this point of the season.

There were some good things and obviously, there are things that we can improve upon, said Thibodeau. From the start of camp, we strive for improvement each and every day and we want to be playing our best basketball at the end. Defensively, theres a number a things that we have to clean up to do better. Offensively, I still want to play with a quicker pace. We have to do a better job in sustaining our space with the second and third option.

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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