Bulls

Rose gives Houston a big problem in clutch

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Rose gives Houston a big problem in clutch

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010
Updated 1:14 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

HOUSTON The Closer apparently isnt just some show that comes on after late NBA games; its also an appropriate description for the man wearing No. 1 in a Chicago uniform.

Derrick Roses closer instincts came to the forefront Tuesday night, when the All-Star point guard scored 16 of his 33 points to start the final period to help overcome a once-comfortable Rockets (3-7) lead and propel the visiting Bulls to a 94-92 road victoryChicagos (6-3) fourth consecutive winin the first game of the circus trip.

Whatever it takes for my team to win, Im going to try to go out there and do it, said Rose. I guess I did what I was suppose to do.

We showed a lot of resiliency, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. And of course, Derrick was Derrick."

I hope so. Just taking games over, he continued when asked if stretches like the one witnessed in Houston were part of his development as a superstar. Thats on defense, offense whatever you need me to do, Im going to go out there and try.

Rose was at his dynamic best to start the final stanza as part of an 18-0 Bulls run 14 of which he scored to begin the fourth quarter after missing much of the previous period following his fourth foul.

Remarked Rose: It was so frustrating. I knew I had to sit out, but I was just hoping that we kept it close.

They were leaving me open. Preseason really helped me for this moment, where I was shooting like five threes I averaged like four or five threes through the preseason and I was just shooting the ball, continued Rose, who shot 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, including 3-for-4 in his fourth-quarter outburst.

Rose took control of the game, he realized what needed to be done, he started attacking, going north and southattack, attack, attack, added Thibodeau. Hes impossible to guard.

I didnt like the way we started the third quarter and then when Derrick picked up his fourth foul, we had to go to the bench early and then we hit a lull, he went on to say. He came back to start the fourth quarter and he was very, very aggressive and we made up a lot of ground quickly. Hes reading plays, too,

Added Kyle Korver (10 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals), who not only suited up after being a game-time decision, but excelled: When we really needed Derrick, he really stepped up. He hit those threes, he drove to the basket, made a lot of plays for us.

In a game of runs Chicago twice fought back from deficits in which the Rockets seemingly seized control of the contest the Bulls defense was stout down the stretch, limiting Houston power forward Luis Scola (27 points), who had previously tortured them throughout the night.

Rose was in takeover mode, but he had plenty of help. Chicagos much-maligned bench had a strong collective outing, with Korver, swingman Ronnie Brewer and center Omer Asik Thibodeau was confident enough in the rookie that he sat Joakim Noah for the majority of the fourth quarter all had positive individual outings, despite a team 15-for-18 mark from the free-throw line and 19 turnovers, 16 of which were recorded in the first three periods.

Our bench, I thought, was terrific. Omer Asik coming in, Ronnie Brewer coming in, C.J. Watsonthey gave us energy and a spark, said Thibodeau.

We didnt run iso isolation plays. We ran a lot of stuff for guys coming off screens and coming to the basket and Ronnies so great at cutting backdoor to the basket, so Im always looking for him, added Korver. But we had a lot of guys playing together.

Headed to San Antonio after the contest, the Bulls face the always-tough Spurs in a back-to-back game and the second in a seven-game road trip Wednesday evening. Even with his performance in the hard-fought win over Houston, Rose showed little sign of satisfaction afterwards.

We still havent played a whole game together yet. Thats what were trying to fight for. But were coming along, said Rose. Well take any win. Any win is good. We have a tough game tomorrow and were just trying to focus on that.

Were still not a 48-minute team, but were a team that does fight and when we get down, we keep fighting. We came back twice and we have to keep striving for improvement, added Thibodeau. For us, thats the big thing right now. We want to keep getting better and better, and try to analyze what happened in the game and then make the necessary corrections.

Top Toro

Rose obviously was the difference in the game for the Bulls, but his postgame remarks lend some insight to his thought process, which so many observers credit too simply to his physical abilities. In times of adversity, Rose says he seeks out the wisdom of his agent and former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong.

I had to do something. Talking to agent B.J. Armstrong, he just says stop the game thats with getting to the line or whatever and just concentrate, focus in. Its either stopping it or scoring the ball and tonight, it was with scoring it, said Rose. I just remember the things he says and theyre all important to me. If I need any advice, I have great people thats on the coaching staff, but I need any more advice, I call him.

"He probably wouldnt want me saying his name. Hes probably mad that Im telling you all this, but I go to him for almost everything.

Thibodeau discussed Roses mindset to begin the final period after being saddled with foul trouble.

He plays so hard and he drives the ball so hard, I thought there was a little frustration on his part because hes not getting to the line the way probably he should, said the Bulls coach. When he came out to start the fourth, I thought he did what he should do: He attacked harder. So, I think when you do that, now you get calls. So, I thought his aggressiveness led to a lot of good things for us.

Moment of Truth

Again, Roses play at the beginning of the fourth quarter was huge for Chicago. The team went on an 18-0 run to start the period, with 14 of the points poured in by Rose after heading to bench with his fourth foul at the 5:30 mark in the third quarter.

However, a key to keeping the game close in the first place was a 12-2 run in the second quarter keyed by Chicagos second unit. Brewers 11 first-half points provided a big lift, as did Korvers four assists, especially as both Utah expatriates have struggled to get acclimated to the system and have been hampered by injuries.

Thats what we have to do. Our second quarters havent been strong all year and we have the guys to do it, said Korver. I think its part of us jelling together as a unit and tonight, I thought we did.

X-Factor

Not to be redundant, but the trio of Korver, Brewer and Asik truly stepped up Tuesday. With Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Noah having subpar evenings, the play of Chicagos second unit cant be underestimated.

Asik, in particular, provided a major defensive deterrent to the smallish Rockets again, sans Yao and his offense appears to be increasingly better than advertised, albeit not gaudy statistically.

I thought Omers energy in the first half was really good. Hes so active, at his size, at the rim and theyre such a good cutting team that his shot-blocking there and his activity, he sets a great screen on the pick-and-roll; he rolls hard and he has great hands. So, I thought that gave us a spark offensively, too. And it was the way the group was playing, too. I thought the group was functioning extremely well, so I wanted to stay with it longer, said Thibodeau.

I think hes done it through the preseason and the start on the season. When hes on the floor, its harder to score. His rebounding is excellent, he makes effort to the offensive board, but defensively, he brings a lot to the table for us.

Subtly Strategic

Thibodeaus insertion of Asik in Noahs stead paid off major dividends, but perhaps one of the biggest factors in the Bulls win were two baskets a layup and a 3-pointer by Houston point guard Kyle Lowry at the end of shot-clock buzzers that were later overturned by instant replay.

Quipped Thibodeau: Love it instant replay. Love it. Best thing that happened to this league. It was great. It was good fortune. Those were two tough shots that they made and we were fortunate that those things worked in our favor.

We needed them. He Lowry hit some crazy shots. Those were some crazy shots that he hit, but Im happy that they the NBA did that put in an instant-replay rule to review shots made at the end of periods or end of the shot clock, added Rose.

Additionally, the Bulls dodged a bullet with Roses foul trouble, as he committed a giveaway foul in the first half that almost came back to haunt them.

In hindsight, I look back, he Rose had one foul. So we knew we had the foul to give. Probably wont do that in the future, said Thibodeau. To me, some guys can play with fouls, too. Normally, hes not in foul trouble, so its a calculated risk. I thought the way the game was going, wed take a shot at it. Didnt work.

Thorn in the Side

Although the Bulls did a good job on him down the stretch, Rockets power forward Luis Scola absolutely killed the Bulls with his excellent footwork and touch in the low post.

Hes Scola so clever and crafty. We just tried to make his catches as hard as possible, but he knows how to get open, said Thibodeau. I thought our ball pressure was better in the fourth quarter, which I thought helped us.

Also, former Bulls center Brad Miller had one of those turn-back-the-clock nights thats so familiar to Chicago fans, as he went for 21 points including three 3-pointers on the night.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Even without Joel Embiid, 76ers' wings will give shorthanded Bulls fits

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USA Today

Even without Joel Embiid, 76ers' wings will give shorthanded Bulls fits

The Bulls are shooting for their second win in a row, but the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers stand in their way. The game tips off at 6 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago — until then, here's what to watch for:

76ers’ last five games (3-2)

  • Jan. 15 — W vs. Nets: 117-106

  • Jan. 13 — L at Pacers: 101-95

  • Jan. 11 — L at Mavericks: 109-91

  • Jan. 9 — W vs. Celtics: 109-98

  • Jan. 6 — W vs. Thunder: 120-113

Storyline(s) to watch

Billed by many as true title contenders and the favorites to come out of the East, the Sixers’ (26-16) season has been of the hot-and-cold variety so far. Fortunately for people like me, it’s pretty easy to delineate when they’ll be which temperature: Philadelphia is 19-2 on its home floor in 2019-20 while just 7-14 on the road, and some of the statistical disparities are positively gaping:

  Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Net Rating 3P% TOV per game
Home 112.1 (9th) 102.5 (3rd) 9.6 (5th) 37.5% (7th) 14.4 (15th)
Road 105.9 (22nd) 109 (11th) -3.1 (18th) 33.5% (24th) 15.1 (18th)

Still, the Sixers are a suffocating defensive team with a litany of impressive wins under their belt (chiefly, their Christmas Day romp of the Bucks). And unfortunately for the Bulls, this one will take place in the city of brotherly love. A second straight win, and one against an above-.500 team, would be a major boost, but the Sixers’ impossible length and physicality make them a daunting matchup.

Player(s) to watch: Sixers’ wings

Without Joel Embiid (torn hand ligament), the Sixers will likely trot out a starting unit of Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. Though the absence of a ‘traditional’ point guard isn’t new to Philly, this type of roster construction — wing-heavy, and big wings, at that — poses an intriguing challenge for a Bulls defense that thrives when it can hone in on the head of their opponent’s snake in the pick-and-roll.

Well, the Sixers run just 13.9 pick-and-roll plays per game — second-least in the NBA to only the iso-crazed Rockets — and with good reason: they score just 0.8 points per possession on such plays. Instead, their playmakers outside of Embiid make their living from the post and elbows (Horford, Harris), off-the-dribble (Simmons), and spotting up (Richardson, Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz and Trey Burke). The spacing can get clunky (Philly’s 109 offensive rating ranks 18th in the league), but against the undersized and undermanned Bulls, they could feast anyway.

Simmons and Harris will be key. In the four games since Embiid went down, Simmons is averaging 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and seven assists on 58.9% shooting, and is devastating in transition, where the Bulls have been prone to lapses defensively. Harris is a capable shotmaker at all three levels (especially the interior) and is coming off his second-highest scoring outing of the season against the Nets:

 

Matchup to watch: Zach LaVine vs. Sixers’ perimeter defenders

Now let’s flip to the other side of the floor. That presumptive starting unit of Richardson, Thybulle, Simmons, Harris and Horford enters the night with a respectable 105.5 defensive rating and superb 19.3% turnover rate (94th percentile) in 141 possessions together, per Cleaning the Glass. The Bulls will have to work for every bucket, with little to no margin for error.

Luckily, Zach LaVine’s been on a tear of late, averaging 32 points per game on 52.3/45.7/93.1 shooting splits over his last five. Unluckily, Thybulle, Richardson and Simmons (who’s leading the league in steals per game) don’t give an inch, especially around screens. Even when you think you’ve lost them, all three have shown the ability to block shots and poke away balls from behind — on Wednesday, they pestered Kyrie Irving all night long and held him to 14 points and 6-for-21 shooting.

LaVine has been up to most every scoring-related task that he’s been faced with this season, but in Philadelphia lies perhaps his greatest test. Even if the Bulls don’t pull out a win akin to their 108-107 primetime victory (in which LaVine dropped 39 and the game-winner) last March, he can still submit another bid for February’s All-Star game with a big night against stingy competition.

Injury report

  • Chandler Hutchison (right shoulder soreness) is officially listed as questionable, though he said at shootaround Thursday that he thought he “dodged a bullet” after falling hard on his shoulder in the fourth quarter of the Wizards game. The Bulls need his size and range tonight.

  • Joel Embiid is out with a torn ligament in his right hand and is set to be re-evaluated next week.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

The Pecking Order: Bulls' pre-NBA Trade Deadline to-do list

The Pecking Order: Bulls' pre-NBA Trade Deadline to-do list

We’re beyond the halfway point of what looks to be another lost season, Bulls fans. As we enter the next phase of the schedule, it’s important for this team to acknowledge their current reality and put emphasis on making positive steps to improve their future.

It’s not about playoffs anymore but that doesn’t mean there can’t be new goals to set and meet through these final 40 games. It starts with a critical stretch between now and the NBA’s trade deadline on February 6.

Here are five things I’d like to see the Bulls do over the next three weeks. It’s the Pecking Order.

1) Try something new

Earlier this week, when asked by our Bulls Insider K.C. Johnson to assess his team at the season’s halfway point, Jim Boylen said he likes that they’ve established a style of play at both ends of the floor. I’m sorry, but the Bulls' offensive rating of 104.7 currently ranks 28th in the league and falls to 96.2 when Zach LaVine is off the court? The Bulls' defense – which Boylen and John Paxson have pointed to as proof of growth – has fallen dramatically against tougher opponents? Through eight January games, the Bulls' defensive rating is 113.7.

If the style you’re using isn’t working – 15 wins and 27 losses – should you stick with it? As my buddy John Sabine said during a recent episode of Outsiders, “a mullet is a style.”

On offense, the multi-ball handler “style” is not working consistently, nor does it fit the strengths of the players on the roster. See Markkanen, Lauri. On defense, the high rate of forced turnovers yields little because the team can’t execute in transition and fastbreak situations.

The trapping pick and roll defense is picked apart by competent teams and has only been more exposed since Wendell Carter Jr.’s injury. Nonetheless, the Bulls stick with it, establishing these styles of play regardless of personnel. It’s a glaring example of their inflexibility and inability to make proper adjustments.

The Bulls can’t be satisfied with the systems if the team is 12 games under .500 through the “easy” part of your schedule. Try something else.

2) Play and trade Thad

Thad Young is back to being Thad Young. The veteran forward produced 35 points off the bench in the past two games, 23 of those came near the basket on post-ups or pick and roll actions. His half-court game is “old school” and doesn’t fit the “new school” (i.e. only threes and layups) that the Bulls demand from their players.

Guess what? Thad’s buckets this week were some of the most competent offense we’ve seen from this team all season, outside of LaVine’s individual brilliance.

Thad played 21 minutes on Wednesday night, while Luke Kornet led all players with 35. Anybody else see a problem here?

With the losses of Wendell and now Daniel Gafford for up to four weeks with a thumb, the Bulls must seriously consider starting Thad. Sliding Lauri to the five is certainly a calculated risk on defense, but is Kornet that much better if he is attacking ball handlers away from the paint? We learned in October that Kornet’s defensive pluses are replaced by severe minuses in this defensive system.

Why not significantly increase Thad’s minutes for the next three weeks? Showcase his talent to pair with his already tradeable quality of being a well-liked and respected veteran to playoff-bound teams. Everybody wins.

3) Play and trade Denzel

On Wednesday night, he was the only active player to not get any minutes. Yes, that includes Cristiano Felicio. Denzel didn’t even get in the game after Chandler Hutchison went down with his 14th different injury in the 15 games he’s played this season.

Denzel’s absence from the rotation is even more confounding when you realize that the Bulls are currently ninth in the NBA in 3-pointers attempted per game but only 19th in 3-point percentage. His 39.2% success rate from deep trails only LaVine and Ryan Arcidiacono among healthy players on the roster. On Monday, Bulls players not named Zach LaVine went 3-19 from downtown. When the Bulls don’t hit threes, they lose. It’s been a constant all season. Denzel’s other greatest attributes, his passing and IQ, could help this team’s constantly stagnant half-court offense.

If the Bulls have decided to give up on Denzel and not offer him a new contract, what’s the harm in playing him for three weeks to boost his trade value? Instead of letting yet another player leave for nothing in return, maybe a playoff-bound team can find use for a bench shooter and send the Bulls a pick or young player.

4) Play. Lauri. Real. Minutes.

Lauri Markkanen’s regression is easily the biggest disappointment in a season filled with them. His usage percentage (20.9), field goal attempts (12.0) and points per game (15.0) are all lower than his rookie season. His minutes per game (30.2) are barely higher than the 29.7 he played as a rookie.

Yes, some of the fault falls on Lauri for not asserting himself more. He looks completely passive and disengaged, but this offensive system isn’t doing him any favors. It won’t get fixed if he’s not on the court. Eliminate these long stretches where Lauri sits for eight, nine, 12 minutes at a time. In three of their past four games, Lauri has taken fewer than 10 shots. Inexcusable. This kid is supposed to be a cornerstone of the rebuild. Do everything you can to help him try to fix this terrible season.

5) Give Coby some plays to run.

Bulls fans have been debating all season long whether Coby White should start. I’m on the record as being against it because I don’t think he’s ready and has been too inconsistent. At this point, screw it. He clearly has talent and is the only other player on this roster besides LaVine capable of creating his own shot off the dribble. Iso Coby has fueled a lagging second unit on many nights. But in the back half of the season, I want to see him doing more point guard things.

I know it goes against the free-flowing system, but can we please install some actual offensive plays for Coby to run that involve other players? We know he can get to the rim and create his own shots. Great. Box checked. But this team is still searching for a real point guard, so why not see what the kid can do when you ask him to run plays for his teammates? Try some new stuff. Make use of your remaining games by developing a key piece of the rebuild.

It’s not a pretty to-do list, but the Bulls aiming to achieve some or all these things will help them in the long run.

Thanks for reading. See red, be good.