Bulls

Rose, Bulls grind out win over Hornets

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Rose, Bulls grind out win over Hornets

Monday, March 7, 2011
Posted: 9:26 p.m. Updated: 11:43 p.m.

By Chris Cason
CSNChicago.com contributor

One day after an emotional win over the Miami Heat, the Bulls defeated the New Orleans Hornets 85-77, winning their ninth-straight at home and improving to 27-4 at the United Center.

Derrick Rose scored 24 points and handed out nine assists and Carlos Boozer finished with 19 points to go along with nine rebounds.

Both teams were playing on the second night of a back-to-back and make up two of the top three teams in the league in opponents points allowed. Adding to that, the Hornets were without All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who sat out after suffering a concussion in the Hornets Monday night win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were also without starting forward Trevor Ariza, who sat out his third-straight game due to a sore groin.

Even with New Orleans being short-handed, they managed to keep the game at a pace where they were comfortable. Chicago built up a six-point lead in the first half, only for the Hornets to come back and tie the game at 43 going into halftime.

The Bulls seemed poised to break away from the Hornets in the third quarter after holding them to 4-of-18 shooting from the field, but as has been the case in Chicagos previous three contest, the game came down to the final few minutes.

The Bulls built a 77-71 lead with under five minutes remaining in the fourth but the Hornets went on a 6-0 run to tie the score with 3:18 left. After a Chicago timeout, Rose was denied at the rim but Joakim Noah (6 points, 13 rebounds) regained possession and lais the ball in while being fouled.

Noah missed the free throw, but the Hornets werent able to convert on their final seven possessions and Chicago drained its free throws to seal the deal.

A good team finds different ways to win, so you have to be able to win with a low-pace and it was a grind-it-out-game," said Tom Thibodeau about both teams shooting under 40 percent for the game. Both teams are playing really good defense so youre going deep into the clock and sometimes, you can score more and you can win that way. The big thing is when its not going well offensively, you have to be able to count on your defense and rebounding and I thought the fact that were able to keep our turnovers down was big for us.

Chicago only had a slight advantage in the rebounding category, 46-41, but managed to keep its turnovers down to nine and was able to move the ball extremely well (24 assists on 31 made field goals) against some pesky defense from New Orleans.

I thought we did a great job on David West, said Boozer about holding the Hornets' power forward to 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting from the field. With Chris Paul being out tonight, we knew they were going to get the ball to him a lot. Our defense was phenomenal and thats why we won.

This was the fifth time in the last six games that the Bulls have scored under 90 points, with the only loss coming in a 83-80 loss against the Hawks last Wednesday. They have held seven straight opponents under 90 points, including three at under 77 and are 6-1 in that span. They also improved to 9-3 in games in which they dont score 90 or more points, which is a positive heading into the final weeks of the season.

They're the most complete team in the NBA right now, said Hornets coach Monty Williams before the game. Their starters can play inside-out, they can shoot, they have great point guard play, a post option, can play pick-and-roll, their bench comes in and does the same.

They can play in transition and play small. They can make you change what you want to do. All their role guys know their spots, to me, thats a complete team.

All they do is win

Boozer came into Mondays game averaging 14 points and 8 rebounds since the return of Noah to the lineup on Feb. 23. He finished with 24 points in one game, a 118-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors, but since that time, his offense has taken quite a dip in production.

Its no secret that teams do their best to keep the ball out of Roses hands as much as possible, but Boozer is also starting to see more attention defensively.

We have to continue to search him out more," said Thibodeau. "Defenses are digging down on him and we still have to get the re-post. We have to give him that second look when he kicks it out, so he can catch it close to the basket. Post-depth is so important, particularly when a team digs well or they double team.

Even with his numbers declining, the Bulls' defense has picked up as the number of possessions per game have declined and the team has won six out of eight games since Noahs return.

Its good, though, said Boozer about his numbers being down. We talk about it all the time with Rose because he gets doubled every game. Its easy basketball once they put two on the ball or they give attention to one or two guys, somebody else is going to be open, so we look for that.

Thats going to happen. If defenses give us a lot of attention, were going to make the right play for our team even if it doesnt lead to the assists, it may lead to the assists by the next person making the right play. Thats part of the game. If its two guys on you, somebodys open, you just have to find them.

Dengs play has picked up since Noahs return as he has benefited from the increased attention on Rose and Boozer and he was averaging 20 points per game coming into Mondays meeting with New Orleans at just under 50 percent shooting from the field.

Were a deep team, said Luol Deng. A lot of times we go out there in the first quarter..., most of the time were just trying to figure out what the defense is trying to do. Ive grown a lot as a player where I see what teams are trying to do and if theyre doubling on Boozer or paying a lot of attention to him, I just try and be more aggressive. If I come out and defenses are not focused on Boozer or Rose, I have to let those guys get going because most of the nights, they are going to carry us offensively.

The Bulls have sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference and have their eyes set on the number 1 seed going into the playoffs. With that said, as long as the wins keep coming, the team could care less about whos averaging what.

We win, said Boozer. Who cares about stats. All I want to do is win, the rest of it will take care of itself.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

David Haugh, Jordan Cornette, Shae Peppler join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Mark Schanowski joins SportsTalk Live to discuss Kris Dunn’s sprained MCL, Fred Hoiberg’s tough luck and Zach LaVine postgame criticisms of the coaching. Plus they’ll discuss another 0-3 team- LeBron’s Lakers.

20:00 – The panel discusses Mitchell Trubisky’s performance vs. the Patriots. Jordan makes the case that the media is giving the former No. 2 pick a pass.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

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Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

Through the opening week of the NBA season, Hornets' All-Star point guard Kemba Walker and former Bull Niko Mirotic share the league scoring lead, averaging 33 points per game.

Bulls' fans have seen these hot stretches from Niko before, and chances are he'll start moving down to the mid to high-teens before long. But Walker is a big-time scorer who's quietly emerged as one of the most consistently productive point guards in a league loaded with stars at that position. He's averaged over 20 points and 5 assists in each of the last three seasons, making the Eastern Conference All-Star team twice.

Last season, Walker lit up the Bulls for 47 points in an overtime loss at the United Center in November, making some of the most difficult shots you can imagine to keep his team in the game. He seems to be as this best when facing the Bulls and you can bet Fred Hoiberg and his staff will pull out all the stops to try to slow him down, especially with defensive ace Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left MCL in his season debut on Monday.

The Hornets made some personnel changes since last season. The one-year experiment with Dwight Howard at center is over. Howard put up solid numbers for Charlotte a year ago, but didn't make much difference in the win-loss column, so he's moved on to Washington in his NBA odyssey. Cody Zeller is now the starting center, backed up by Bismack Biyombo and former Benet Academy and University of Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky.

Charlotte tried to improve the athleticism on their roster by selecting Malik Monk and Miles Bridges in the first rounds of the last two drafts. Monk is getting more playing time this season, averaging 13.5 points in the Hornets' first four games. Bridges is averaging just under 16 minutes a game as a backup to starting forwards Marvin Williams and Nic Batum. Just like he did at Michigan State, Bridges is providing those highlight reel putback dunks, but it remains to be seen whether he'll develop a consistent enough outside shot to be a quality starter in the NBA.

The well-traveled Jeremy Lamb is now starting in the backcourt with Walker, and the Hornets brought in long-time Spurs' point guard Tony Parker to add some much needed experience and veteran savvy off the bench. Given the current state of the Eastern Conference (post-LeBron), it's not out of the question for this group to contend for one of the final playoff spots.

Here's what the Bulls need to do for a shot at their first win of the season. This also applies to the rematch in Charlotte on Friday.

1. CORRAL KEMBA. For whatever reason, seeing that Bulls' logo turns Walker into an almost unstoppable scoring machine. Walker is adept at working off his big men, either in straight pick and rolls or cutting through the post on give-and-go plays. He's one of the league's most creative scorers, and doesn't require much room to get his shot off. The Bulls' bigs will have to provide help on Walker whenever he comes off screens to keep him from taking over the game.

2. PUT THE BALL IN ZACH'S HANDS. Whether he's playing shooting guard or point guard, Zach LaVine needs to be the primary facilitator with Dunn sidelined. LaVine scored 34 points against Dallas Monday night on just 15 shots, which led to him questioning some of the offensive sets that were run in the 2nd half. LaVine told reporters on Tuesday that he smoothed things over with his head coach, explaining his comments were the result of the frustration he was feeling after a third-straight loss to open the season. Still, LaVine is on a major hot streak, joining Bulls' all-time greats Michael Jordan and Bob Love as the only players to start the year with three straight games scoring at least 30 points. The Bulls will need to ride that hot hand for as far as LaVine can carry them.

3. DEFEND THE 3-POINT LINE. You knew I would eventually get to this, right? Dallas made 15 of 47 3-point attempts on Monday after the Pistons knocked down 18 of 40 in a two-point win last Saturday. The Hornets have all kinds of capable 3-point shooters in Walker, Lamb, Monk, Batum and Williams (they're shooting .397 as a team on 3's), so guarding the arc will be crucial for the Bulls to have a chance at their first win.

Don’t forget you can catch Wednesday's game on NBC Sports Chicago and the new MyTeams by NBC sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 pm when Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Kelly Crull join me for Bulls Pregame Live from the United Center Atrium. Neil Funk and Stacey King have the play-by-play call at 7 pm, then stay tuned after the final buzzer for Bulls Postgame Live and the always entertaining Bulls Outsiders.