Bulls

Meteors make adjustment; escape with victory

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Meteors make adjustment; escape with victory

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
10:28 p.m.

By Seamus Brennan
YourSeason.com

Timeouts can be a coachs best friend.

Hales guard Aaron Armstead hit a field goal to put No. 6 Hales up 17-7 in the opening minute of the second quarter. So De La Salle coach Tom White called a timeout and decided to put on the full-court press to slow down the Spartans.

The result: a dramatic shift in the games tempo and a Catholic League North conference title for the No. 3 Meteors as they pulled away with a 64-48 win at De Le Salle Friday night.

We had to change the tempo there because (Hales) is so damn athletic and long, White said. So that little bit of a switch slowed them down just enough.

Dre Henley led De La Salle with 20 points and was all smiles after the game.

It feels real good to win a championship, Henley said. Me and my team, we work really hard. We got a team full of killers.

Hales held a 26-23 lead after a first half that was jam-packed with action. There were six dunks all together, with one coming from Illinois-bound Mike Shaw. After that dunk, Shaw was whistled for a technical foul as he appeared to be trash talking. Shaw finished with seven points after fouling out with 2:59 left in the game.

Henley took a perfectly-fed alley-oop from sophomore Alvin Ellis with 3:42 left in the second quarter.

Hey, the crowd came to see a game, White said. Were going to play and so is Hales.

The Meteors outscored Hales 22-6 in the third quarter. Ellis had eight points in that quarter and Henley chipped in seven. Ellis, who came off the bench, finished with 17 points.

Ellis is coming off a great week, White said. Hes a sophomore, a 15-year-old doing those types of things.

Hales was never able to pull together a streak in the fourth quarter to close the gap as the closest it got was within nine points. De La Salle just wouldnt let up.

Its more personal than anything. A lot of people were hyping this game up saying it would be like 69-65 in overtime, Henley said. We won by almost 20 points. We wanted to send them home with an illness.

Armstead led Hales with 15 points.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: The basketball world mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: The basketball world mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine and David Watson reflect on the passing of an NBA icon, Kobe Bryant.

0:30 - Reaction to Kobe's passing on Sunday

18:00 - More discussion about Kobe Bryant and his impact on the league

25:00 - The guys favorite memories of Kobe Bryant

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

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.

What's next for Denzel Valentine after standout performance against Spurs?

What's next for Denzel Valentine after standout performance against Spurs?

Denzel Valentine is beloved throughout the Bulls’ locker room. It takes only a brief sweep around to glean that.

“I love playing with Denzel, that's my guy,” Kris Dunn said. “No matter what, that's my guy. He know[s] that.”

No matter what.

“Man, Denzel is a true professional,” Zach LaVine said. “We're thankful to have him on this team, I think any team would love to have him. He's someone that is beneficial to us because he's gotten put in a tough situation where he came off the bench, and he's a player that's a regular rotation guy.”

Any team would love to have him.

“They show a lot of support, man, it's just crazy. We have a really good, close-knit team,” Valentine said of his teammates. “Zach — he's been a really good help in this situation. Talking to me every day. Coby [White], Kris, I can go down the line of everybody that's a part of it, so. I got blessed, man, I'm on a really good team with really good teammates.”

Let’s rewind. Valentine logged his fourth-highest minutes total of the season (19:06) on Monday, tied his season-high for scoring (16 points) and played crucial, crunch-time minutes in one of these Bulls’ most memorable victories — a 110-109 squeak-by over the San Antonio Spurs on a night the late Kobe Bryant was commemorated from start to finish. 

Valentine added three assists, four rebounds and four 3-pointers, as well.

“I thought Denzel was terrific. He's kept himself ready and came in and helped us win a game,” coach Jim Boylen said.

It can’t have been easy keeping the rust off. After missing all of last season due to ankle reconstruction surgery, Valentine is averaging by far his lowest minutes per game this season while shooting 39.5% from 3-point range. He has been phased in and out of the rotation on multiple occasions.

“That's my job as a professional, to stay ready and play when called upon,” Valentine said of how he endures with playing time not a given.

In four games which Valentine has played more than 19 minutes this season, he averages 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game on 50/44/100 shooting splits. The Bulls are 3-1 in said contests.

“Playing winning basketball,” Valentine said on what he brings when given opportunity. “Whether that's scoring, passing, playing defense, rebounding. Just whatever I can do to affect the game. People always want to look at my shots, but I think I impact the game in a lot of different ways. I think my defense is underrated, and I impact the game in a lot of different ways.”

Valentine said he’s excited to continue to prove himself with advanced opportunity likely in the near future. Thad Young’s insertion into the starting lineup with Lauri Markkanen out for at least the next month opens a gaping need for scoring off the bench. Since Markkanen went down, Valentine is averaging 13.8 minutes per game. Before then, he hadn’t played more than seven since logging 16 minutes in a blowout loss to Milwaukee on Dec. 30. 

But tonight, he was instrumental to a victory. Of his four 3-pointers, two came in the fourth quarter as the Bulls were clawing their way back from, at one point, a 10-point deficit. 

“He brings that. Scoring, another playmaker. You know, when Denzel get rolling, you get to see a different player in him,” Dunn said. “He has that same mentality that I have in the sense of — you know, just go out there and do whatever you can do to win.”

Valentine is beloved throughout the locker room.

“That's not up to him, to play his minutes. He came in, and he's the biggest reason why we won the game I think,” LaVine said. “I think he was 6-for-10, he had 16 points in [19] minutes. You know, high-IQ player, playing on and off the ball, so it was big and I appreciate having him as my teammate.

“Denzel has some of the highest respect in the locker room, we know who he is as a player, and as a person.”

But are his teammates hinting at something? Trade speculation has swirled around Valentine with the deadline impending and the Bulls’ role for him undefined. Now, though, the team’s need for him is evident, given their short-handedness. 

The waters are muddy, but all there is to know for sure is this: All parties have remained and will remain professional.

Time will tell the rest.

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