Randolph, Grizzlies halt Bulls' overtime streak


Randolph, Grizzlies halt Bulls' overtime streak

Watching the Bulls (23-16) play these days isnt for the faint of heart.
After game-winning shots to win the two overtime games on their recent road trip, including Friday nights thriller in Boston, Saturday evening they returned to Chicago to host the Grizzlies (26-13) and in a battle between two defensive-oriented teams, the Bulls played their third consecutive contest featuring an extra session, falling 85-82, in a wild affair featured had another heart-racing finish, as well as Joakim Noah on the bench for nearly the final 23 minutes.
Playing without sideline leading scorer Luol Deng the small forward was out with a right-hamstring injury, aggravated in last night's win the hosts got out of the gates with a flourish, as Carlos Boozer (17 points, 14 rebounds) opened the games scoring, before Noah (10 points) put on a personal showcase.
The versatile center led a fast break, dishing to Rip Hamilton for a transition layup, then throwing down a pair of dunksincluding one, off an assist from Jimmy Butler (18 points, eight rebounds), who started in Dengs place, over Memphis power forward Zach Randolph (13 points, 19 rebounds), who was a game-time decision with a back injuryand hitting a face-up jumper.
Boozer scored the next two baskets for the Bulls, who saw all five startersincluding Kirk Hinrich, who left the game with two early foulsrack up assists in the early going, but the Grizzlies hung tough, mostly due to the solid play of underrated floor general Mike Conley, Jr. (13 points, nine assists).
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But the Bulls maintained their slight cushion, as Noah made all five of his shot attempts, adding in one more dunk for good measurein an opening period that certainly justified his All-Star consideration, playing against one of the Western Conferences top centers in Marc Gasol (19 points, eight rebounds)to help the hosts have a 22-18 lead after a quarter of play.
Early in the second frame, the Bulls most recent acquisition, sharpshooter Daequan Cook saw his most meaningful action since arriving in Chicago, replacing Butler at small forward and while he didnt do anything noteworthy upon entering the contest, it did demonstrate that notoriously demanding Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau had at least a semblance of confidence in his ability or at least was willing to see what the Ohio native was capable of.
However, the Bulls had their hands full with Grizzlies reserve forwards Darrell Arthur and Marreese Speights, despite Boozers continued scoring efforts after he was reinserted into the contest.
Memphis momentum persisted as the period continued and as Rudy Gay got goingwithout Deng to defend himthe visitors went on a 13-0 run over nearly five minutes of action to not only take the lead, but completely seize control of the game.
A Hamilton jumper ended the spurt, but the Grizzlies post tandem of Randolph and Gasol seemingly wore down the once energetic Bulls, who faced a double-digit deficit, 44-34, at the intermission.
After the break, things didnt get much better for the hosts, as Memphis similarly-stingy defense held the Bulls offense in check for the early portion of the third quarter.
While the Grizzlies werent vastly better scoring the ball, the energy of Chicago native and defensive specialist Tony Allen gave them some life and the visitors managed shoot a better, if not spectacular, percentage from the floor to maintain their comfortable winning margin on the road, silencing the home crowd.
Buoyed by the energetic play of reserve Taj Gibson (10 points, 12 rebounds), the Bulls loyalists got back into the game and although the home team didnt make significant headway, it became a more competitive affair as the period waned on.
Still, in the same week that the Bulls held their previous visitor, Atlanta, to a historic 58-point outingthe Grizzlies held them to a season-low 71 last monththey headed into the final stanza risking setting an ignominious mark of their own, as they trailed, 60-47.
Propelled by the play of a lineup composed of Boozer and second-unit mainstays, including Butler, whose uncanny knack for offensive rebounds was impressive for his sizeit was needed, as Noah, the teams top rebounder, didnt play again after the midway point of the third quarterthe Bulls chipped into the deficit and made it a single-digit contest early in the fourth quarter, scoring the first six points of the frame.
It remained a competitive affair, as the frontcourt trio of Boozer, Butler and Gibson making their presences felt on the interiorthe athleticism of the latter two, in particular, gave the visitors problemsand backup point guard Nate Robinson (11 points, five assists) running the show and leading the squads transition attack, the contest evolved into a two-possession affair midway through the period.
More: Butler impresses in first career start
A Marco Belinelli triple with 4:08 remaining made it a one-point game, 69-68, in the Grizzlies favor, and after a Randolph miss on the subsequent Memphis possession, Butlerwho played a Deng-like minute totalwas fouled on the Bulls next trip and knocked down a pair of attempts from the charity stripe to give the hosts their first lead since the second quarter to conclude an 11-0 spurt.
As the game entered its stretch run, a Robinson bank shot from deep with 1:33 to play gave the Bulls a 75-72 advantage, but four consecutive points by Gasola pair of free throws and a traditional bucket from in the paintgave Memphis a 76-75 lead with 34.1 seconds to play.
Belinelli drove to the bucket and was fouled with 31.4 seconds left and split a pair to tie the contest and after Randolph missed a jumper on Memphis trip downcourt, the Bulls secured the rebound, but following a timeout with 2.4 seconds on the clock, Robinsons attempt to win it at the buzzer was off the mark, leading to the home teams third straight overtime affair.
Memphis struck first in the extra session, scoring the periods first six points via the familiar duo of Randolph and Gasol.
Just when it appeared that the Bulls had run out of gas, Belinelli made a layup with 1:32 remaining, re-energizing the dormant crowd, and after Randolph split a pair of free throws on the Grizzlies next trip, a Butler fast-break layup made it a one-possession affair, 83-80, in favor of the guests.
Randolph was fouled with 39.1 seconds leftdisqualifying Gibson; backup center Nazr Mohammed, not Noah, replaced himbut he missed both foul shots, prompting a Bulls timeout.
A wild sequence ensued when play resumed, as Robinson was stripped going to the basket, but Butler hustled back on defense to take the ball back for the Bulls and after Boozer rebounded an errant Robinson long ball, Belinelli stepped on the sideline, giving the ball back to the Grizzlies with 12.2 seconds on the clock.
After a timeout, however, Memphis was whistled for a five-second violation on the inbounds pass, giving the Bulls another opportunity and after Robinson drove for an uncontested layup, Grizzlies backup Jerryd Bayless leaked out for a layup of his own, making it 85-82.
Still, the Bulls had a final chance, but after Robinsons game-tying attempt was blocked, the ball ended up in Boozers hands, but the big mans corner three-pointer fell short, as did the team.

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.