Bulls

Sixers feel for Rose, still view Bulls as threat

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Sixers feel for Rose, still view Bulls as threat

It seemed the importance of Saturdays Game 1 Bulls win over the Philadelphia 76ers took a back seat for both clubs as they waited to hear word on the status of Derrick Rose.

Just two hours after the leagues reigning MVP collapsed to the floor gripping his left knee with 1:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, it was learned that he was done for the postseason and out even longer with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Not even 24 hours after the news on Rose was delivered, the Sixers were back on the same United Center Floor where Rose walked off with the help of trainers trying to get their minds back on basketball, but with obvious remorse for their opponent.

I think everyone on our team and organization is sick to their stomachs today about what happened to that young guy, said Sixers coach Doug Collins. I was in contact with Pax Bulls VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson last night, Jerry Reinsdorf and Thibs, just letting them know how we feel about the young guy. Hes everything thats right about the NBA and I know hes heartbroken about not being able to be a part of this.

Evan Turner and Rose have had a rivalry since their high school days, but even that has taken a backseat and even the Chicago native appreciates competition and the point guards talents.

I think its a blow, obviously, to their team but also to the NBA, said Turner, who was booed every time he touched the ball in Game 1 for his comments before the start of the series. Hes one of the exciting players and he wanted to help his country over the summer during the 2012 Olympics. To see anybody get that injury, its a crazy recovery process. My middle school teammate Iman Shumpert got hurt too and you hate to see that happen to anybody or see pain on their face from an injury. Thats tough and never fun. Theyre both tough guys and I think it will make them stronger, but once again, its just a blow to the game of basketball.

Andre Iguodala, who was teammates with Rose on Team USA during the 2010 FIBA World Championship, was also sad to see him go down.

He plays such a big role for his team and the biggest thing is just hoping a guy recovers fully and gets back to form because things like that can put doubt in a guys mind on when he would get back, he said. Hopefully hes confident and with the technology now, hell be back at full strength.

The Bulls' game plan will change somewhat with Rose out, but the Sixers are as aware as anyone about the teams ability to win without their best player as Chicagos identity has been built on the strength of their defense and rebounding.

The thing about the Bulls and my concern is if can we score against them, said Collins. We shot 36 percent in Game 1, so they can beat you with their defense and rebounding. Thats how they won a lot of games. Were going to have to be much more efficient offensively than we were yesterday. We had some fast breaks that we didnt cash in on, we had some open shots that we missed but they do such a good job.

"I felt coming into this series that we were going to have to score 90 points to have a chance to win. We got 91 yesterday but our defense was not up to the standards of where we want it to be and the second chance points really hurt us. We have to do a better job. We have to get 90 to 95 points in my mind to beat this team.

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.