Bulls

Rose reigns supreme as Bulls topple Lin, Knicks

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Rose reigns supreme as Bulls topple Lin, Knicks

Linsanity may have subsided as of late, but as he does when presented with a perceived challenge, Derrick Rose met it head on, leading his short-handed Bulls (35-9) over the Knicks (18-24), 104-99 Monday night at the United Center.

Rose wasnt at his most efficient, but persevered and came up big when his squad needed it the most, while also getting support from his supporting castwhether some of the usual suspects or unlikely candidateswith a penchant for making hustle plays, to hand free-falling New York its sixth straight loss.

Offensive balance appeared to be the Bulls primary objective in the early going, as all five starters were on the board by the midway point of the first quarter. Kyle Korvers (nine points, seven rebounds) outside shooting, Roses (32 points, seven assists, six rebounds) penetration and Joakim Noahs (12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots, two steals) aggressiveness as a scorerthe ex-New Yorker showed no mercy for the team he grew up rooting for, posterizing the Knicks frontline twice in the opening periodoffset Carlos Boozers (15 points, seven rebounds) two quick fouls, which sent him to the pine.

The visitors werent intimidated by the home team, which entered the evening with the leagues top record, especially center Tyson Chandler (13 points, 10 rebounds), who was familiar with the confines from his early days in Chicago, and made a quick, efficient and meaningful impact from the outset. New Yorks point-guard phenomenon Jeremy Lin (15 points, eight assists), had an uneven start to the gamelike most players, he struggled to stay in front of Rose, but made an impressive block on a layup attempt by the leagues reigning MVPbut managed the game well enough to aid the Knicks in taking a 25-23 lead through a quarter of play.

The short-handed hosts continued to trail early in the second stanza, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was forced to buy time with unconventional lineups, leading to a rough offensive stretch, though swingman Ronnie Brewer (11 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and reserve Taj Gibson (15 points, 13 rebounds) were solid contributors. However, even after reinserting the likes of Rose and Noah back into the contest, the Bulls still had problems scoring the ball, as both Rose and Boozer got off to dreadful starts shooting.

Rose began to assert himself more as a scorernot that it translated into trips to the foul linehelping the home team temporarily regain the lead in a strange affair, which featured technical fouls on both Thibodeau and Knicks head coach Mike DAntoni, as well as a rare first-half appearance by deep reserve and fan favorite Brian Scalabrine. At the intermission, the Bulls narrowly trailed their guests from Gotham, 50-48.

After the break, offense suddenly came much easier for the Bulls, as Boozer, in particular, appeared to have regained his scoring touch, while Rose maintained his aggressive edge, but had more successful results than in the first half. Rosewho gave Bulls fans a brief scare after taking a spill on his tender backby way of fast-break finishes, outside shooting, playmaking, drawing fouls and tough driving finishes, went on to propel a run that led to the hosts seizing control of the contest, eventually obtaining some breathing room as a buffer against the reeling Knicks.

Playing at a faster pace, the Bulls dictated the tempo, while still executing better in their halfcourt offense, as evidenced by Brewer cutting to open areas on the floor and knocking down jumpers, as well as Noah capitalizing on offensive boards made possible by proper spacing.

But New York hung tough behind the star forward duo of Carmelo Anthony (21 points, eight rebounds) and Amare Stoudemire (20 points), both of whom had begun to find their way, drawing within 79-78 heading into the games final frame.

Rookie swingman Jimmy Butler (eight points) sparked the Bulls at the outset of the fourth quarterfirst drawing a charge, then converting a steal into a transition layupenergizing the home crowd, aiding the hosts in again developing a slim cushion. Fellow reserve Gibson did much of the same, beginning with one of his typically thunderous flushes, but then with his relentless work on the offensive glass, which was best exemplified by an out-of-area rebound after a Rose heave to beat the shot clock, resulting in Rose receiving a gorgeous bounce pass from Noah, then throwing down a powerful one-hand dunk in the lane.

As the game entered its stretch run, Rose continued to work his magic, but the Bulls also received timely contributions from the likes of Butler, Noah and Boozerwhether scoring, rebounding, hustle plays or in the rookies case, a vicious follow-up dunkto help the team maintain its narrow winning margin.

Fittingly, following a jump ball forced by a Noah block on Stoudemire, Rose outraced Lin for both a loose ball and a subsequent fast-break layup and while the Knicks made a last-gasp effort that served as at least a wake-up call to the Bulls, it was too little, too late.

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Picture yourself at 19 years old.

Maybe you were in college. Maybe you hit the job market early.

What you likely weren’t doing was guarding one the NBA’s best centers in your first professional game.

That was the task charged to Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls’ 127-108 loss to the 76ers in the season opener at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday.

Carter Jr. was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft after just one season at Duke. He earned the start in his NBA debut after an impressive preseason, but nothing could’ve prepared him for going up against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Carter Jr. said when asked if Embiid was as impressive as he thought he’d be. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of, or the best, big man in the league. Very skilled, very poised. He knows his spots on the court.

“I didn’t go out there with my best effort. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Carter Jr. had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in 20 minutes. He also picked up four fouls, which the rookie attributed to the physicality and craftiness of Embiid.

But he did flash the impressive and varied skill set that made him a high pick and such a coveted prospect. He was also able to garner the praise of the Bulls’ veterans.

“Even though Wendell got in foul trouble he was still playing (Embiid) solid,” Zach LaVine, who scored a team-high 30 points, said. “That’s a tough first game right there. But he didn’t lack for confidence. Made him take some tough shots, but he’s going to make them. He’s that type of player.”

To his credit, Carter Jr. was candid about his performance. He admitted that his emotions ran the gamut from nervous to excited to happy.

In a season that will have its ups and downs as the young Bulls develop and learn, there will likely be more games like this against other elite NBA competition. It’ll be how Carter Jr. responds that will define his career.

“It’s the first game so I don’t want to put too much on myself,” Carter Jr. said. “It would be different if it was like the 50th game or 60th game. It’s the first game. We’re just going to move on from it. We’ve got our home opener on Saturday (vs. the Pistons). That’s where my mind is right now.”

See, he’s learning already.

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

The Bulls backup point guard situation will be in dire straits all season, with no established veteran behind Kris Dunn. And although the front office has seemingly committed to Cameron Payne as the backup PG (for at least this season), Ryan Arcidiacono showed enough in the season opener to justify giving him meaningful plying time in the rotation. 

Here are the stat lines of Arcidiacono and Cameron Payne from the season opener in Philadelphia:

Arcidiacono: 8 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 from the 3-point line

Payne:           0 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 from the 3-point line

With so many capable ball handlers and score-first players on the Bulls, point and assist totals aren’t as important as the rebounds and 3-point attempts. To provide the necessary space needed for driving lanes, there has to be openings in the defense caused by defenders sticking close to player they believe are a threat to shoot.

And that is where the problem lies with Payne.

Ryan Arcidiacono—while by no means a dominant scorer—showed a willingness to attack off of the pick-and-roll, even showing off an impressive ball-fake:


Payne, despite coming into the league with the reputation of a scorer, has yet to be aggressive enough to make teams think twice about leaving him wide-open on the perimeter. And he is not one to attack the basket with purpose, averaging less than half a free throw per game for his career. Payne's general lack of aggressiveness when on the floor is often times made worse by his occasional poor post entry passes that seem predetermined:

Even if the above play was designed to get the ball to LaVine in the mid-post, Payne chooses a terrible time to make the pass. When he starts the motion to give the ball to LaVine, Ben Simmons is positioned in front of LaVine to force a tougher pass, as rookie Landry Shamet gambles over the backside to get the steal.

Had Payne chose to swing the ball around the perimeter, or give it to Bobby Ports and then get it back, he could have created an opening for the LaVine pass.

Obviously, the Bulls 19-point loss can’t be blamed on solely on Payne, the terrible defense was a group effort, as was the sometimes questionable shot selection. But with the defense already appearing to be perhaps one of the league's worst units, Fred Hoiberg would be wise to put Arcidiacono in more.

Hoiberg is in a crucial year where he needs to show that he can be the head coach of this team when they finally become competitive.

And for Hoiberg to show that type of growth as a coach, he needs to set the tone that minutes are earned not given, something he has already started with his moving of Jabari Parker to the bench. Payne only received 22 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for Arcidiacono, and it is tough to see that changing if things continue on like they did on Thursday night.