Bulls

Starting Five: Bulls to face Jordan-owned Bobcats

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Starting Five: Bulls to face Jordan-owned Bobcats

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
10:32 a.m. Updated 4:32 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Charlotte star swing man Stephen Jackson spoke to CSNChicago.com about the teams mentality under new Bobcats head coach Paul Silas. Well, I think were playing the type of ball everybody wants to play. Its exciting, our style of play and hes giving the young guys confidence, the confidence that they need to for them play well and for us to play well. I think its been great, Jackson told CSNChicago.com. Its Golden State with a defensive mentality. Youve got a lot of guys that can score, that can get up and down the floor quick. Coach is letting us use that talent in that aspect and were trying to get back to the defensive team we were last year. Continued Jackson: Its been hard, but I think were making the adjustment. Weve got guys that can step up. Weve got a lot of young guys that are getting the opportunity to play and are doing a great job. And also, D.J. is coming into his own, which we knew that he could do, so its exciting to see these young guys grow and start to contribute to our team.

Jackson also believes third-year point guard D.J. Augustin is benefiting from Silas guidance. Its been good because you dont have too many point guards in the league that can shoot and also run a team as well as he can, and I think for him, Coach is giving him the confidence to be a leader out there and to be able to take shots and make mistakes, and not worry about coming out of the game. I think its helped his confidence and thats why hes been playing so well, said Jackson.

2. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau coached new Bobcats assistant Charles Oakleya former Bull and one of the leagues all-time tough guys during his NBA careerin New York.

Prior to the teams shoot-around Wednesday morning in Charlotte, he opined on the colorful Oakley as a coach. Whatever he decided to do, I thought hed be great at it, just because of the way he approaches everything. When he goes into something, hes 100 percent committed to it and I think hes figuring out now what he wants to do. He tried the management part of it, now hes trying the coaching part of it. Whichever way he decides to go, hell be great at it, said Thibodeau. The way he played is also the way he practiced every day. Never took a day off and you got 100 percent from that guy all the time.

Jackson also discussed Oakleys contribution to the team. Its good, bringing that toughness that we need, getting our big guys to be physical and to have our best constantly on the court is something that I think he was one of the best at, and its definitely going to help us if our bigs can start playing the way he played.

3. Thibodeau also discussed Silas, another of the NBAs warriors during his playing career, as well as a head coach known for turning teams around quickly. Hes been around the game forever. Hes done a great job in a number of different places. Theres not too many things that he hasnt seen and experienced. Hes been through every situation, so I think hell do a great job here, said Thibodeau. When you look at the way theyre constructed, Augustin with his shooting and then you look at the two, three and four, when you have Jackson, Gerald Wallace and Diaw, because of their versatility, it makes them different. They do a lot of switching, they can spread you out, theyre skilled and now theyre pushing the ball more. But I thought this team has always had a defensive mindset to it and theyre unique because of all the switching they can do. You cant allow that to slow you down or turn you over because now theyre in the open floor. Theyre hard to stop. I like Kwame Brown. Some people have criticized him, but I think hes a terrific defender, he plays hard and then when you look at Tyrus Thomas athleticism coming off the bench, Henderson is playing a lot better right now and Livingston poses a number of problems because of his post-up ability, ability to run the team, great vision, unselfish. So, theyre a talented team.

4. Rose talked about his individual improvement on the defensive end, an area of weakness before this season. I think I improved a lot everything was just new. In college, you dont really play pick-and-roll defense like that. We were a good defensive team, but we never played pick-and-roll defense, said Rose, who credited Thibodeau for his defense becoming better. He forces it. He holds you accountable, especially me, on everythingThibodeau doesnt really do that embarrass players during film sessions, but hell stop the film and tell you what youre doing wrong. Were used to it right now. We watched so much film in the beginning of the year and in training camp of ourselves, that we expect him to be hard on us in film.

Continued Rose: I look at Kobe Bryant. Hes a guy that, he tries to kill you on both ends. Definitely when he has the ball, hes trying to score every single time, but on the defensive end, hes giving his heart outjust watching how almost everybody in the league plays defense. Chris, Deron, Rondojust seeing what they do on defense because in pick-and-rolls, people play different, teams send people different ways. The biggest thing I know in pick-and-roll is that youve got to push yourself into the ball, so that you can avoid all the screens.

Thibodeau chimed in about where he thought Rose improved the most. Guarding the ball, his ball pressure. I think the two areas hes improved the most are getting over screens and challenging shots. Now, I think hes starting to see how he can help with his team defense. I think hes reading plays well and I also think his rebounding. He knows when he rebounds and he busts out with the ball, thats almost an impossible break to stop, said Thibodeau. Fighting over screens is about both effort and technique. Communication by the big, effort, intensity, technique. I think you have to combine all those things and I think you have to continually work on it.

Thibodeau went on to talk about the biggest adjustment defensively from the college level to the NBA. In the pros, youre going to see multiple pick-and-rolls on the same play, so you may handle the first one well and there may be a re-pick and then maybe even a third one. You have to be prepared to do that throughout the course of a game, to develop a multiple-effort mentality, said Thibodeau. You get over the first one and even when you do handle the first part of it, you still have your team help responsibilities after youve done that. Its a never-ending concept. You cant stop and you cant relax. You have to keep going, you have to do it for 24 seconds, you have to do it for 48 minutes, you have to do it day after day. Thats what makes a team special. Thibodeau used his last point guardBostons Rajon Rondo, a highly-regarded defenderas an example. He Rondo really had to work at it, too. Youre coming in from college, I think the biggest thing is getting to learn the players, their tendencies, the teams, their systems. You understand the speed of the game and the strength the players have, and I think that you have to recognize that you have to get stronger, said Thibodeau. I know Rajon has and I know Derrick has the commitment to the weight room, so you can get over things. Youre going to get hit and your body position is critical.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

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.”

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

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AP

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

COLUMBUS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."