Bulls

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

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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.

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

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USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

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USA TODAY

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

Finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference last season cost Stan Van Gundy his job as Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations. Van Gundy was replaced on the bench by 2017-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the conference semi-finals.

Casey’s job in Detroit is to find a way to develop the young players on the roster while getting the team to the playoffs. He has a pair of All-Star caliber players in the front court, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, along with highly-paid, erratic point guard Reggie Jackson.

Griffin has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Van Gundy decided to roll the dice at mid-season a year ago by trading Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley AND a 1st round pick to the Clippers for the former slam dunk champion in a desperate bid to save his job. The trade didn’t work out for Van Gundy, but it’s possible Griffin could enjoy a resurgence in Detroit this season.

The 29-year-old power forward scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the Pistons’ 103-100 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Drummond had a monster game with 24 points and 20 rebounds. As Bulls fans know all too well, Drummond has made the 20 rebound game commonplace when facing Fred Hoiberg’s squad in recent years.

As for Jackson, a severely sprained right ankle limited him to just 45 games last season, probably costing Detroit a chance to make the playoffs. The 8th year pro is lightning quick, with the ability to disrupt defenses by getting into the paint and challenging bigger defenders at the rim. Jackson scored 19 points in the season opener against Brooklyn, and he’ll be a problem for the Bulls Saturday night, especially if Kris Dunn is unavailable.

Casey is still trying to figure out how to use the rest of the roster Van Gundy built, with recent 1st round pick Henry Ellenson and former rotation player Jon Leuer getting DNP-CD’s against the Nets. Meanwhile, two other expected rotation players, small forward Stanley Johnson and swingman Reggie Bullock missed the opener because of injuries.

That left second year guard Luke Kennard and 2018 2nd round draft pick Bruce Brown as the other starters in game one, something that’s unlikely to continue once everyone’s healthy.

So, how do the Bulls even their record at 1-1 on Saturday? Here are my three keys:

1. Keep Drummond and Griffin off the offensive boards. This is much easier said than done. Drummond in particular is relentless going after missed shots, and his bulk will cause problems for 19 year old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Hoiberg hinted at possible line-up changes on Friday morning, which could include starting veteran Robin Lopez at center to battle Drummond inside. Griffin has turned into more of a jump shooter now and doesn’t have the multiple jump capability that characterized his early seasons in the NBA, but he’s still a threat to create 2nd shot opportunities.

2. Close out on three-point shooters. Of all the defensive issues for the Bulls in Philadelphia on Thursday, losing touch with shooters in transition was probably the most troublesome. Robert Covington seemed to be open at the three-point line throughout the game, and Bulls players struggled to handle cross-match situations. Kennard had one of the best games of his rookie season against the Bulls, and Jackson, Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are all capable of heating up from long distance.

3. Attack Detroit’s interior defense. The Bulls were at their best offensively in the first quarter against Philadelphia when they drove to the basket to set up easy scoring chances. Zach LaVine was getting to the rim at will in scoring 15 of his 30 points in the opening 12 minutes, and his penetration also set up Bobby Portis for open looks from the three-point line. Hopefully, Dunn will return to stabilize the point guard position and give the Bulls' first unit another shot creator so they can sustain their pace and scoring potential over four quarters.

Saturday’s home opener is definitely winnable against a Detroit team still finding its way under a new coaching staff. Better effort and attention to detail on the defensive end along with a fast-paced, drive and kick offensive attack should make for an exciting opening night at the United Center.

Make sure to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Kelly Crull and me for a special one hour edition of Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and the new My Teams app, followed by the play by play call with Neil Funk and Stacey King at 7 p.m. And, stay tuned after the final buzzer for reaction and analysis on an expanded edition of Bulls Postgame Live.