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Sam: Bulls React to Game 2 Loss to Cavaliers

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Sam: Bulls React to Game 2 Loss to Cavaliers

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
10:15 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

After the game, a dejected Derrick Rose put on a brave face when talking about LeBron James backbreaking 40-point performance.

Hes a player where hes going to hit shots like that, the best player in the NBA right now on the best team in the NBA right now, Rose told CSNChicago.com in the visiting locker room at The Q after the Bulls loss. Well live with him making shots like that, as long as hes not getting all those other people involved like he usually does.

Weve still got to come with the same effort, even more energy next time. Weve got to rebound the ball more. If we come up with almost the same game and just hope theyre exhausted, we should be fine.

Luol Deng had a solid night -- regardless of James 40 points, Deng made him work for everything he got -- finishing with 20 points, six boards and five assists, after a disappointing showing in Game 1. Deng, who was the second-ranked player in the high school class of 2003 (James was No. 1), has been going head-to-head with the Cleveland star for years, making him more familiar with his game than most, especially as they play the same position.

You cant do anything. You can take away some things, but you cant take away everything, Deng said about defending James. You just hope he doesnt shoot like that. But hes been getting better since high school and when youre talented like that and you have all the confidence in the world, its hard to stop and thats where hes at right now.

He had a good shooting night, but weve got to go home. Ive seen guys do it, but at the same time, I think we did a good job of hanging in there. We had a chance tonight. We didnt have a chance the other night, so were happy about that.

Deng, like Rose, is also optimistic about Chicagos chances in the series, despite their 2-0 deficit.

Were not concerned. Were the eighth seed. Were going to battle, were going to try to win and still try to make a series out of it. The pressure is always on them and weve just to take care of home court and the pressure will build up.

Despite the loss and his villain status among the Cleveland faithful, Joakim Noah showed no remorse for his overblown comments about the city -- which were displayed on the Quicken Loans Arena JumboTron as he shot free throws, inciting fans to boo even more -- saying after the game, I was booed a lot. My whole life Ive been booed. College, I was getting booed a lot. Boston, they dont like me over there and they dont like me over here either. Its okay. I have my friends. I dont care.

Noah went on to say when asked if he regretted his comments, Not at all. You like it? You think Clevelands cool? I mean, Ive never heard anybody say, Im going to Cleveland on vacation? Whats so great about Cleveland?

As far as the game itself, Noah put the loss in perspective during his postgame press conference.

Were playing against the best team and I think this is great for our team, he said. The competition doesnt get any higher than this. Weve just got to keep fighting and understand that this is great for us -- in the big picture. When you go into the summer, you can say, We were playing against the best team and we know what weve got to do to get better, and thats all it is right now. Its all about getting better and trying to win ballgames.

Bulls reserve guard Flip Murray came off the bench to score 14 points, including 10 in the first half, and provided Chicago with a player other than Rose that could create his own shot -- especially in light of the series-long offensive struggles of starting shooting guard Kirk Hinrich. However, his strong outing was offset by the play of Cavaliers backup swingman Jamario Moon, who hit four of his five three-point attempts, including a perfect 3-for-3 in the fourth quarter, as well as two key blocked shots, complementing James with some huge baskets down the stretch.

Moon, an athletic streak-shooting journeyman who played in a various leagues across the world before breaking into the NBA as an older rookie with Toronto, said After that second one, it felt like I was throwing it into the ocean. Its about being confident and being ready to shoot the basketball. My teammates kept believing in me and I kept believing in my shot and I was knocking them down. Coming from where I came from and the road that it took for me to get here, it feels great.

Follow me on Twitter @CSNBullsInsider.

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.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.