Bulls

Rose lets his game do the talking in return to lineup

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Rose lets his game do the talking in return to lineup

Although Derrick Rose didnt address the media after Monday afternoons Bulls win over the Hawks he reportedly received treatment for his ailing back, then left the United Center his teammates had plenty to say about the reigning league MVPs return to the lineup after a five-game hiatus.

While Roses stat line of 23 points, six assists and five rebounds speaks for itself, the subtleties his presence brings to the table for the Bulls transformed the team from simply a blue-collar group reliant on only defense to win games to a squad with a game-changing player ready to be unleashed if needed.

Having Pooh back, it just opens up everything. He was very aggressive and when hes aggressive like that, it opens up everything for everybody and gives us a lot of confidence, observed Joakim Noah.

Were not going anywhere without that guy. Every game is different. Sometimes theyre going to blitz and trap Derrick. Our game plan changes when they do that. Derricks a great passer. He does a lot of things great, so some games, hes going to attack the rim. Hes going to take whatever the defense gives him and not force the issue or anything like that, so overall, I think having him playing is huge for us.

Carlos Boozer noted that Roses impact on the contest started from early in the opening period, after the Bulls started slowly, and extended through the waning moments of the affair.

Thibs called a great 20-second timeout and Pooh just picked the pace up for all of us. Next thing you know, it was drive to the bucket, and-one, free throws, jump shot. It was awesome to watch, said the power forward. He did the same thing in second half. Came out, was super-aggressive and his scoring ability got everybody in the right spots. His poise down the stretch gave us a great calm out there.

Reserve point guard John Lucas III who played major minutes alongside the superstar in crunch time Monday, but will most likely feel the impact of Roses return the most when backup point guard C.J. Watson comes back to the lineup spoke about how he knew in advance that Rose would be up to speed in his first game back.

Oh, its always good to have our whole team get healthy. Now, we just need to get Rip and well be full strength, but our whole thing is, when Derrick came back, we knew he was going to be ready. We kept telling him, Dont rush. Take your time. We got this. Well hold it down. Take your time because were going to need you in the long run. Right now, just get healthy, because weve got the second half of the season coming up after All-Star break, the diminutive scorer explained. When Derrick steps on that court, hes never tentative. This is what he does, this is what he loves. Even in practice the other day, when we were playing, I didnt want to hit him or bump him, but he was like, No, this isnt how its going to be in the game, so we went all-out. And I was like, Oh, youre ready. Youre going full speed, game speed. Go out there and do what youve got to do.

Thats the one thing thats good about our team. Everybody knows their role. Derrick comes back, that means minutes are going to be cut short for me, C.J., all of us, but were not complaining because we want to win. Thats the biggest thing, winning on this team and were happy that hes back and hes getting healthy. You all just saw a glimpse you all obviously know what he can do full strength but for him missing as many games as he did, it looked like he didnt miss any.

Luol Deng, the Bulls other All-Star, discussed how with Rose back, hes able to shoulder less of a burden as a playmaker and can get back to his traditional role on the team.

Its so much easier, man, with him being back, especially defensively. I really lock in defensively. I know offensively hes going to create for everyone and get everyone shots, he said. Its great. Having him back, I dont have to focus so much on creating and everything else. On offense, just get back to our regular roles, what makes us a great team. Defensively, focusing on hustle plays, rebounding and offensively, some nights theres going to be a lot of scoring from me. Some nights theres not, but thats the role and thats the way we play.

Its good to have Derrick back. Hopefully after the break, Rip will be back. Weve got one more game, Milwaukee, and hopefully from there on out, everyone will be back on the squad, Deng continued. He played well. Hes going to get more comfortable as he plays more, but its really great to have him back and we cant wait to get Rip back also.

Speaking of Hamilton, who Deng and Lucas seemed to be openly pining for, sources tell CSNChicago.com that hell likely return after the All-Star break, either in the Bulls Feb. 28th home game against the Hornets or on their subsequent three-game road trip.

There is also the slim possibility that the veteran shooting guard plays Wednesday against Milwaukee, as hes been increasing his activity level as of late while he recovers from his right thigh and groin injuries, in addition to mourning the passing of his grandmother.

But first things first, lets get back to Rose, who didnt look rusty in the least, though he obviously can raise his game to another level once hes back in the groove. Still, not bad for the first game hes played as Boozer said, Youve just got to keep watching him play, but he was pretty damn good today" when he hasnt looked hobbled since early this month.

His explosion was there. His drives were there," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. "Conditioning-wise, hes not where he normally is. But thats to be expected. Overall, Im very pleased. He said he felt real good out there. The big thing was making sure he was 100 percent and pain-free. Then he had to be cleared medically. Then he had to feel very good about playing. We went step-by-step with him. He did his rehab. Then we did non-contact stuff. He didnt have problems with that. Then we went to contact and he didnt have problems with that. Who were playing didnt have anything to do with it. He felt he was 100 percent and could go. Well just go from here. He said he felt well out there.

You dont want him to change who he is. Thats the nature of the game. Guys are going to be aggressive and attack. Youre always concerned about health. But a guy could get hurt in practice or shootaround. Thats part of the game. Hes done a good job with his rehab. Our trainers have done a great job with him. We felt comfortable. As long as hes pain-free and feels 100 percent, we felt good with him playing. He met all the criteria that we were looking for him to meet before he played again. So were good with it.

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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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.