Bulls

Rose, Bulls get past Bucks to take Game 3 in double overtime

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Rose, Bulls get past Bucks to take Game 3 in double overtime

Great teams’ waters are most still when the atmosphere is at the height of anarchy, and if the Bulls wanted to get pushed, the Milwaukee Bucks had no problem playing with reckless abandon for 58 minutes—forcing the Bulls to a momentum-filled, emotional contest.

The Bulls had no issues rebounding from an 18-point first half deficit, but buckled under the weight of an eight-point lead with 1:43 left, and it took two overtimes to take a 3-0 series lead against the pesky and game Bucks, with a 113-106 win at the BMO Bradley Center.

Look no further than the man who once hit a game-winner in the building in a previous life, Derrick Rose. Whether it was scintillating left-to-right drives to the basket or one of his five 3-pointers, he seemed to hammer home the school of thought that the Bulls need to rest to gear up for their anticipated 12-round bout with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“He’s playing at a very high level and playing as an MVP,” said Bucks coach Jason Kidd after witnessing Rose’s tour de force showing. “You look at how he can control the game from shooting ball from behind the arc very well.”

After splitting a pair of free throws with 4.9 seconds left in regulation that could’ve put the Bulls up one, he flexed his defensive muscles on Michael Carter-Williams in the second overtime, repeatedly stopping him as the Bucks went scoreless for the first three minutes.

“Defensively, we wish we could’ve did that in regulation,” Rose said. “In overtime we made sure we talked to each other. Communication is so big for our defense because we help so much and force people to shoot the ball.”

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Then he put the Bucks away doing what he does best: attacking the basket. After driving the lane for a layup to put the Bulls up eight, the demure 26-year old yelled out as the Bucks called timeout.

He rebounded his own miss on the next possession, scoring on another layup, sending the Bucks’ fans back home, visions of grandeur clearly erased.

“We’re playing against a very hungry team, a young, hungry team,” Rose said. “They’re pushing us. Defensively they’re great. We’re finding ways to win games.”

In 47 pressure-packed minutes, Rose scored 34 points with eight assists and five rebounds while Jimmy Butler scored 24 in 53 minutes of play, reversing the trend from Game 2, where Butler took over late.

That wasn’t the case early on, as the Bulls seemed overwhelmed by the Bucks’ energy and execution. Quality possessions were nowhere to be found, as they looked lost on offense and confused on defense. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was relentless in his drives early, getting to the ball quicker than any of the Bulls.

His jumpers in transition were matched by forays to the basket where he merely turns into Reed Richards from the “Fantastic Four”—including a transition layup and foul where it looked like he barely had control of the ball, helping the Bucks to a 22-4 run, part of his 23-point performance.

“We got beat to the ball, beat in transition, and we got in a big hole,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought they were the aggressors to start the game.”

But the Ambien soon wore off, and the Bulls realized they had a golden opportunity in front of them if they could stay within striking distance. An 18-4 run put the Bulls down by four at the half, giving them new life, but the emotional swings were just beginning.

“I thought the ball pressure got better, we made our run to give ourselves a chance to get back in it,” Thibodeau said.

[MORE: Both Bulls and Bucks learn valuable lessons in Game 3]

Mike Dunleavy kept taking advantage of his limited opportunities, hitting four triples in the place he most called home, a handful of the 14 3-pointers the Bulls hit at a 42-percent clip—shots they had to take, even without Nikola Mirotic on the floor because the Bucks were giving them to the Bulls, daring them to beat them from beyond 20 feet.

Challenge accepted.

And before you knew it, panic turned to patience, evidenced by methodically moving the ball around before Noah found Taj Gibson for a reverse layup before the shot clock expired early in the fourth.

The next possession, Noah hit Gibson again, except Tony Snell was wide open, eagerly waiting for a wing triple that put the Bulls up seven, before the Bucks gamely cut the lead to two courtesy of back-to-back triples from Khris Middleton with 55.6 seconds left.

After Middleton hit another jumper, this one over Joakim Noah, Rose took on three defenders before getting fouled with 4.9 seconds left.

He made one of two free throws before Middleton’s triple banged off the rim, giving the Bulls extra basketball and a test they would soon pass—although they’d much rather learn this lesson in 10 fewer minutes.

Zach LaVine improving his chances for Eastern Conference All-Star spot

Zach LaVine improving his chances for Eastern Conference All-Star spot

Zach LaVine let it be known the moment the NBA announced the All-Star game was coming to Chicago in 2020 that he would love to represent the Bulls in the Sunday night main event.

LaVine’s chances looked pretty slim when both he and the team got out of the gates slowly this season. LaVine averaged 20.2 points as the Bulls finished October with a 1-4 record, and he shot just 42.6% from the field in a 5-10 November.

But since that time, LaVine has picked up his offensive output, averaging 25.1 points in December and 30 points so far in January. He’s also had two of the best fourth-quarter performances of the season, carrying the Bulls to come-from-behind wins at Charlotte and vs. Cleveland at the United Center last Saturday.

In that road game against the Hornets, LaVine scored a career-high 49 points, making 13 of his 17 attempts from 3-point range, including the game-winner at the buzzer. LaVine finished one shy of the NBA record of 14 3-point makes, set by Klay Thompson against the Bulls last season.

Against the Cavaliers, LaVine scored 21 of his 42 points in the 4th quarter to help the home team erase a 15-point deficit heading into the final 12 minutes. Plus, he outdueled All-Star reserve candidate Bradley Beal earlier this month, outscoring the Wizards’ guard 30-23 in a 115-106 Bulls win.

LaVine faces a lot of competition for the four reserve spots that are potentially available for guards (three frontcourt, two backcourt, and two wild card players will be selected by conference coaches), and it could come down to whether the coaches put more emphasis on win-loss record or individual statistics. 

If Atlanta’s Trae Young and Boston’s Kemba Walker get the starting spots, LaVine will be competing with the likes of Beal, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie, Detroit’s Derrick Rose, Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon for anywhere between two and four spots, depending on how the wild card selections fall.

Given the recent history of coaches’ votes, you can expect Simmons and Lowry to get the nod for the two reserve backcourt spots, with LaVine and Beal the top candidates for one or both wild card selections. Plus, there’s always the chance NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will have to replace one of the 12 Eastern Conference All-Stars because of injury, with LaVine the likely top choice to represent the home city.

Zach has told reporters he’s more likely to do the Slam Dunk contest Saturday night if he’s selected for the Eastern Conference squad, so a lot could be riding on the announcement of All-Star reserves on January 30th.

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Who makes it to the All-Star Game?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Who makes it to the All-Star Game?

The NBA All-Star Game voting is almost up and the biggest question is if Zach Lavine make the cut. Jason Goff is joined by Will Perdue, and Kendall Gill as they give their official East and West All-Stars for this season.

(2:05) - If Zach Lavine makes the ASG, who doesn't go?

(3:54) - Eastern Conference selections

(8:12) - Debate on if Trae Young should go to the ASG

(13:48) - Does the League have influence on who makes the ASG?

(15:38) - Should Lavine use Dunk Contest as leverage for the ASG?

(18:23) - How Chicago will react to having All-Star Weekend

(19:15) - Chance that Derrick Rose will make the ASG

(20:51) - Western Conference selections

(22:26) - Fan voting needs to be gone

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

Bulls Talk Podcast

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