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A timeline of Tim Duncan's career against the Bulls

A timeline of Tim Duncan's career against the Bulls

Tim Duncan announced his retirement on Monday after 19 seasons in the NBA. The future first ballot Hall of Famer will go down as perhaps the greatest power forward of all-time, winning five NBA titles and being named to 15 All-Star Games.

The Big Fundamental had plenty of accomplishments and milestones against the Bulls, who he faced 34 times. From 1997 to 2016, here's a timeline of some of Duncan's most memorable games against the Bulls.

November 3, 1997: Duncan made his first real headlines as a professional in the third game of his NBA career, a tilt against Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Though Chicago escaped with a four-point win in double overtime, Duncan was exceptional in the loss, scoring 19 points and matching Dennis Rodman with 22 rebounds. A Michael Jordan triple to end regulation pushed the game to overtime, with the Bulls eventually coming out on top. And despite the loss, it was a sign that Duncan, David Robinson and the Spurs were for real, taking the defending champs to the brink at the United Center. The Spurs went on to win 56 games, and would win the NBA Finals the following year.

November 26, 1999: The day after Thanksgiving, Duncan put on a masterful performance against another No. 1 overall pick. Facing rookie Elton Brand, Duncan matched a career-high with eight blocks in addition to his 23 points and 10 rebounds. Brand would later join Duncan in the Rookie of the Year fraternity, and he held his own against the defending champion with 24 points and six rebounds. But Duncan got the last laugh in their first meeting, a 23-point victory for the Spurs. A month later Duncan continued his terror on the Bulls, scoring 25 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

March 14, 2002: Duncan put together a classic Duncan line in his meeting with the Bulls in 2002. The forward went for 24 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and four blocks in 40 minutes. Those numbers may seem typical for him, but consider this: Duncan first accomplished that line or better on December 30, 1999. Since then, 16+ years, that line has been put together 33 different times. Of the 34 times a player has reached those thresholds, Duncan is responsible for 11 of them. Next closest is Shaquille O'Neal, who accomplished it 10 times in that span. To put the finishing touches on the performance and the win, Duncan made 12 of 13 free throws to make up for his 6 of 14 shooting from the field.

March 4, 2005: The Spurs needed all 31 points from Tim Duncan to avoid a disastrous home loss to the Bulls. Duncan scored 31 points, the most he would ever score against a Chicago team, including an 18-footer with 38 seconds remaining. He then hit two free throws the next trip down to put away the victory for the Spurs. San Antonio had such a big lead in the second half because of Duncan, who scored 17 points in the second quarter alone, nearly topping the Bulls' 20 as a team. He also made all seven of his free throws. Duncan and the Spurs went on to win the third of their five titles that summer.

November 7, 2005: Three years later Duncan accomplished an even more impressive feat in the Spurs' overtime victory over the Bulls. In 40 minutes, Timmy finished with 24 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and six blocks. He also shot 60 percent from the field (12-for-20) and made all six of his free throws. That line, combined with 60 percent shooting, has only been accomplished one other time in the 11 seasons since Duncan did it: Marcus Camby, a year later, with Denver. Duncan made his only shot attempt and grabbed three rebounds in overtime to lead the Spurs.

November 27, 2008: Duncan welcomed another Bulls' No. 1 overall pick to the NBA with a great performance, scoring 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting in the first half of the Spurs' win. Duncan only shot twice in the second half as the Spurs pulled away. Rose struggled in his first contest against Pop's Spurs, managing 10 points and six assists in 40 minutes.

November 18, 2010: It was just another day at the office for Duncan, who scored 16 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and handed out five assists in just 34 minutes. The Spurs won by nine, but the game was more notable for Duncan in that he tied David Robinson for most career games in Spurs history (987). Duncan, of course, blew by that total and finished his career having played in 1,392 games, more than 300 more than Tony Parker behind him.

March 8, 2015: Duncan won't want to remember this one, but it was a notable mark in his career. Duncan went 0-for-8 from the field in the Spurs' win, marking the first time in 1,310 games he had failed to record a made field goal. He managed eight rebounds, three assists and a block, and was a +7 in the 11-point win. In classic Timmy fashion, he responded two nights later with a double-double in a win over the Raptors.

March 10, 2016: In what would be Duncan's final game against the Bulls, the big man grabbed his 15,000th rebound midway through the first quarter. Duncan became the sixth player in league history to reach that milestone, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone, all NBA Hall of Famers and all-time greats. His 10.8 rebounds per game rank 22th all-time, sandwiched between Shaquille O'Neal (10.9) and teammate David Robinson (10.6). Duncan finished with just 7 points and 3 rebounds, but the Spurs got the win and Duncan added another feather to his cap.

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

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USA TODAY

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

The Bulls defense is nowhere near where it needs to be, and it cost them dearly on Saturday night. But in a season that’s still about seeing progression both individually and collectively, the Bulls took a step in the right direction with their effort and what Fred Hoiberg called “competitive spirit.”

That won’t change the standings when they wake up Sunday morning, now facing an 0-2 hole in the early season. And while better effort and tougher defense helped them stage a second-half comeback they weren’t able to manage on Thursday, it was a defensive miscue that cost them the game.

Ish Smith split a double screen at the top of the key and sliced his way past Jabari Parker for a wide open go-ahead layup with 5.4 seconds left. Zach LaVine, who 20 seconds earlier had tied the game with the last of his 33 points, was unable to get a shot off after a timeout. Better than Thursday for 47 minutes and 50 seconds. But still costing them when it mattered most.

“We can’t give up a layup for the last play,” said LaVine, who was guarding Smith. “We just got to get our defense right. That’s why it’s really upsetting because we played so well, we came back but we can’t give up a layup. We at least have to make him take a tough one. That was as easy a layup as you can get. It’s really upsetting.”

Fred Hoiberg defended his decision to leave Parker in the game instead of inserting rookie Wendell Carter Jr. He opted to ride the group that helped the Bulls erase a fourth-quarter deficit when it appeared the Bulls were spiraling toward another double-digit loss.

But the Pistons were ready to find the weak link in the Bulls defense and expose it, like they did much of the fourth quarter while attacking Parker with Blake Griffin. As the screen was set Parker jumped outside to cut off Smith, who then made a cut inward and made a dash to the rim. Parker was a couple steps late, allowing the 5-foot-9 Smith to score with ease to give the Pistons their lead and the eventual game-winner.

Bobby Portis, whose shot wasn’t falling but played admirable defense against a talent like Griffin, was on the other side of the double screen and didn’t have a great view of the play. But he said allowing a layup with the game on the line is inexcusable.

“It’s a tough play but at the same time you don’t want to give up a layup at the end of the game,” he said. “You want to make him take a tough shot. That’s something we’ve got to work on, is late game execution on defense.”

But again, it’s about baby steps. The Bulls will want that final possession back, and Hoiberg might also want it back after leaving Parker in the game over Carter. But from where the Bulls were on Thursday, this was better. Granted, allowing 118 points and 18 3-pointers to the Pistons isn’t a recipe for success, it’s improvement nonetheless. Detroit got a career-high five triples from Griffin, four from Reggie Jackson (a career 32 percent 3-point shooter) and a pair from Stnaley Johnson (a career 29 percent 3-point shooter). The Bulls will be able to live with some of those makes.

On Thursday the Bulls trailed by just six early in the third quarter before the Sixers ripped off a 19-3 run to put the game out of reach. On Saturday the Pistons got out to a six-point lead on two different occasions, and then a seven-point lead with just 2:01 to play. All three times the Bulls came roaring back, using timely spots and clutch baskets from LaVine, Park and even Cameron Payne, who tied a career-high with 17 points.

Ultimately it wasn’t enough, but it’s a positive sign that they were able to battle back and show some fight defensively. They’ll certainly need that when they travel to Dallas to take on a Mavericks team that scored 140 points on the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves on Saturday. They should get Dunn back, which will help,  and now have a close contest under their belt on which to build. It didn’t result in a win, and the late-game cross-up was the cause, but the Bulls finished Saturday in a much better place than they were in on Thursday.

“Yeah but obviously we want to get the win. I feel like we fought hard,” Portis said. “Even when adversity hit everybody stuck together. We did our thing tonight. You want to win the game but I felt like we did our job tonight. We just gave up a bad play at the end of the game.”

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

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USA TODAY

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

Denzel Valentine’s troublesome left ankle is going to keep him on the sideline for at least the next two weeks. Fred Hoiberg said Saturday before the Bulls’ home opener against the Detroit Pistons that Valentine is suffering from a bone bruise in the ankle he sprained on the second day of training camp. Valentine will be evaluated in two weeks.

“It sucks because of all the work I put in this summer and being around the guys you want to be out there so bad,” he said. “Things happen for a reason, and now that we know what’s going on I at least have a time frame and be patient with it; it’s bad news but good news at the same time as it gives me time to get ready.”

Valentine had been practicing earlier in the week and appeared close to a return after spraining the ankle on Sept. 25. But the third year wing complained of discomfort in the ankle and missed practice on Friday. A scan of the left ankle revealed the bone bruise, and Hoiberg wouldn’t speculate on when exactly Valentine might return.

It’s the same ankle Valentine had surgery on in May 2017. Valentine also missed the last two weeks of last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Valentine or the Bulls, who are in desparate need of help both in the backcourt and on the wing.

Though Valentine isn’t a true point guard, he averaged 3.2 assists per game off the bench last season. The Bulls could use that kind of production when Kris Dunn returns on Monday, as Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono haven’t exactly showed promise in the early going.

Instead, Valentine is on the mend and it’s unclear when he might return. Given he’s had surgery on the same ankle before, the Bulls will be cautious upon his return.

“I’m a fighter, I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand dealt," Valentine said. "I can’t sit here and be negative, I just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”