Bulls

Thibodeau named Coach of the Month for April

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Thibodeau named Coach of the Month for April

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Posted: 2:20 p.m. Updated: 6:00 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

For the second consecutive month, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was named the Eastern Conferences coach of the month.

That means we have a good team, so Im excited about that, Thibodeau, who tied Paul Westphals record for most regular-season wins for a first-year NBA head coach with 62 after Wednesday's home victory over New Jersey, said after Thursdays practice at the Berto Center.

Thibodeau is keeping up his usual practice of not being affected by any outside influences, as reflected to his reaction when queried about Pacers' leading scorer Danny Grangers comments about the Bulls not having many options beyond All-Star point guard Derrick Rose. Rose was gone by the time reporters were allowed on the practice floor; another engagement, a campaign rally with President Barack Obama Thursday evening, took precedence.

I dont concern myself with what Danny Granger says, said Thibodeau. If you need something like that to get motivated for the playoffs, somethings wrong with you.

Thibodeau led the Bulls to an 8-0 record in their truncated April slate, part of the teams nine-game season-ending winning streak as they prepare for Saturdays playoff opener against Indiana. Along with the NBA Coach of the Year award favorite, who guided Chicago to the leagues best overall record, resulting in home-court advantage throughout the postseason for the Bulls, Portlands Nate McMillan was honored in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, Thibodeau revealed that Bulls head trainer Fred Tedeschi cleared Ronnie Brewer to play in Saturday afternoons Game 1 after the swingman sat out Wednesday due to the sprained thumb he suffered Tuesday in New York.

Today was a light day. We just tried to prepare for Indiana, but I came early, got some shots up. I handed the ball a little bit, said Brewer. Its a little sore, but youve got to play through pain and thats what I tend to do.

Its playoff basketball and I wasnt going to miss it for anything, added the Bulls leader in steals. Come Game 1, youll see me diving on the floor, still trying to get in the passing lanes, working the baseline, doing the things that Ive done the entire year and if theres anything I can do this year to help this team, Im willing to do it.

Brewer joked about the amount of detail Thibodeau put into the scouting report for the Pacers, Chicgos first-round opponent.

If you all could see the playbook that we had at the beginning of the year, its the same thickness and thats just for one team, he quipped, adding that he was excited about Thibodeaus intense preparation.

Its like college, all-your-classes thick, so it was pretty funny when I saw it, he continued. I guess were going to be hitting our books tonight.

Turning serious, Brewer discussed how the Bulls would handle being the hunted after virtually floating under the radar for much of the season.

Were going to get everyones best shot. Were going to have a bullseye on our eye and our front, if you want to put it like that, explained Brewer. We won games because of the preparation that we had in practice and leading up to the games.

The fact that the Bulls will be playing the only Central Division team that defeated them all season will be a motivating factoralthough Brewer also insisted Grangers opinion didnt matter to the teamwith the ever-focused squad.

Were trying to make history here and going undefeated in our division would have been huge for us, said Brewer. We still remember that game and were still holding a chip on our shoulder.

Catch the Bulls' playoff opener against the Pacers on Saturday on Comcast SportsNet with coverage starting at 11:30 a.m.

Bulls observations: Bulls smother Magic and mount furious, historic comeback

Bulls observations: Bulls smother Magic and mount furious, historic comeback

The title ticker flicks to six. The Bulls overcame an 18-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Orlando Magic 93-88 and grab a 2-0 Eastern Conference series lead. Observations:

A team effort

This game was such that The Sports Channel's player of the game award was bestowed upon 'The Chicago Bulls.'

At a glance, that may feel peculiar. Only three Bulls tallied double-figure point totals (Jordan, Pippen, Rodman) and as a group they shot 40% from the field. But this one was truly a clinic in smothering defense, and contributions from all around made it possible.

Pippen's length and work on the glass (he had six offensive rebounds) seemed to impact the game at its most crucial moments. Ron Harper ended the night with two steals, but you could have said he had 10 and I would have believed you. He was everywhere, and continues to cement himself as on the short-list of most underrated contributors during the dynasty. Rodman and the team's rotating cast of bigs played a huge role in bottling Shaq as the Bulls made their decisive third-quarter run. Jud Buechler and Steve Kerr poured in timely buckets. The team's fullcourt press ground the Magic down to perfection.

All in all, it amounted to flipping a 15-point halftime deficit (which in the third quarter grew to 18) into a five-point victory — and a demoralizing one at that. Fifty-three first-half points by the Magic against this team was a feat. Their 35 in the latter half  compared to 55 for the Bulls) felt a correction. Soul-snatching stuff.

A different time

The United Center was an absolute madhouse, you could feel it through the television screen. These Bulls give 'flipping the switch' new meaning.

It all culminated with 'MVP' chants for Michael Jordan in the game's waning moments, as he put the finishing touches on a 35-point, six-assist, four-steal outing. It is astounding how routine he makes these types of nights look.

And, oh yeah. This was a thing.

No, I mean a really different time

In a playoff run filled with celebrities, this has to be the most riotous beneficiary of a Rodman jersey toss so far: 

Chicago really was the center of the basketball universe.

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Zach LaVine ducks exits players-only NBA 2K20 tournament in first round

Zach LaVine ducks exits players-only NBA 2K20 tournament in first round

It's day 74 of self-quarantine, and Zach LaVine bowed out of the players-only NBA 2K20 tournament on ESPN with a 57-41 first-round loss to Deandre Ayton.

Ayton played as the Houston Rockets. LaVine played as the Miami Heat. Yes, that means he was controlling Jimmy Butler, who the Bulls swapped for LaVine, Kris Dunn and the rights to Lauri Markkanen to spark the rebuild three short years ago.

Fortunately, no stats are available from this one, so I am physically incapable of breaking down Butler's performance (though a few bricked layups stand out). But LaVine did struggle to get offense all game, scoring just four points in the fourth quarter after trimming a nine-point deficit down to three entering the final period.

Perhaps he would have fared better playing as the team that employs him:

Alas. The quality of the on-court product in the Ayton-LaVine matchup waxed and mostly waned, with LaVine saying he hadn't played 2K since his rookie year.

But the true entertainment value came from the banter on the side between the two.

It began friendly, with Ayton teaching LaVine how to throw alley-oops (double-tap Y, Zach! come on) followed by LaVine chiding Ayton for a dunk he uncorked on him when Phoenix visited Chicago back in February.

Then, the two took a few moments to appreciate Shaq Harrison — frankly, something all of us can do more of. LaVIne called Harrison "my dog" and fondly recalled a conversation in which Harrison good-naturedly lamented having to guard LaVine in practice in Chicago after being tasked with checking Devin Booker in his time in Phoenix. After spending a year with the Suns, Harrison signed with the Bulls in advance of Ayton's rookie season, but it appears the two are friendly.

The topic of conversation eventually shifted to favorite NBA arenas to play in. Ayton answered Madison Square Garden — a fine choice — while LaVine cited the Sacramento King's old Sleepy Train Arena as a true "shooter's gym." The context to that comment is... Something (albeit completely inocuous). 

All the while, Ayton pulled away as LaVine largely spammed contested 3s in the second half. Considering the real-life Bulls' woes in 2019-20, it was all perfectly on the nose. Especially so was LaVine intentionally fouling Ayton, down 16 with five seconds left, to squeeze in an extra possession — though luckily no timeouts were called.

And finally, before signing off, LaVine was sure to make his feelings on participating in the dunk contest once again clear:

Fair enough. LaVine is more than just a dunker. He's also a prolific scorer, clutch late-game performer and near All-Star level player with a tremendous amount of potential.

But if he wants to add '2K star' to that list of distinctions, he'll have to keep hitting the sticks.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.