Bulls

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Pacers Game 4

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Pacers Game 4

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 11:49 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
1. In the aftermath of Roses 4-for-18 shooting night Thursday, Thibodeau was still impressed with some of the more underrated aspects of his floor generals game, especially his much-improved ability to draw fouls. Thats who he is. Derricks going to attack the basket, get fouled, hes going to go to the line and come back, and do it again and again and again. To me, thats toughness, said Thibodeau of Rose, who is 44-for-49 from the charity stripe through three postseason contests. Hes been a great leader all year. Its something that hes worked hard at. I think hes gotten better and better as the seasons gone along. Hes very aggressive, hes strong, quick, he can read defenses and he makes good decisions once he gets in there. Thibodeau was also complimentary of Roses floor leadership and poise despite the pounding hes taking at the hands of the Pacers. Its not just the attacking of the rimobviously thats importantbut its decision-making, also. When you look at fourth-quarter scoring, youre seeing that Kyles getting a lot of good shots, Luols gotten good shots, Carlos is getting good shots, so hes doing a great job of running the team, Thibodeau explained. He is human. Hes going to say what he has to say, but I love his poise and his demeanor. To me, hes always under control. Thats a hard thing to do. Theyre taking shots at him, but it says a lot about his toughness. Hes as tough as they come, both mentally and physically, so he wont get discouraged and I think you all saw that he wasnt making shots, but he ran the team great in the fourth quarter, made all the right plays, made the tough plays and again, he doesnt get discouraged.

2. After reviewing two fouls by Pacers big man Jeff Foster from Thursdays gameone on Rose and the other on Deng; the mild-mannered Rose confronted Foster after being elbowed in the face, while Deng writhed in pain after being clobbered over the headthe NBA upgraded both calls to flagrant fouls Friday. In the postseason, players are suspended after accumulating four flagrant-foul pointsin Fosters case, he now has two, since both were flagrant onesbefore getting suspended, an unlikely occurrence for the veteran Pacer, as Indiana is one game away from being eliminated from the playoffs. Let the league make those decisions, said Thibodeau. Were getting to the line. I think we can get to the line more. Added Boozer: Hes doing what hes got to do for his team and were going to do what weve got to do for ours I love it when they let us play, get down, get dirty and have a chance to be men out there. Its fun.
3. Speaking of the physical play in the series, Noah took exception to the perception that the Pacers are dictating the level of toughness in the series. The physicalitys good. I feel like our physicalitys pretty good, too. Theres a reason why theyre playing like that. Were kicking their tails on the boards and weve got a point guard thats gets to the rim at will, so theyve got to do something, said Noah. Noah, who recorded a double-double Thursday, appears to be thriving off of the intensity of the matchup and subsequently regaining the form that earned him recognition in the league. Hes coming back. Hes tipping the ball, blocking shots, running, running with you on fast breaks, setting the picks, giving you extra possessions to score the ball. Hes doing a lot for us and his conditioning is better, getting back to where it used to be, Rose noted. Thibodeau chimed in: His energy was great. I thought he was active, shot-blocking, pursued the ball, made some good plays and again, as time goes on, I think hell get better and better.

4. Thibodeau also had strong praise for the performance of his role players Thursday. Keith makes three threes, he guards hard, you can put him on anybody. Taj was terrific. Taj has been playing well, very well. But because of Carlos foul trouble, he got in earlier, shot-blocking, active, all those things. C.J., in the short minutes that he had, I thought he played well. We got a look at C.J. with Derrick a little bit and I thought that was pretty good. The bench has been terrific, said the coach. Weve said this all along: We need everybody. Even the guys that arent playing, theyre doing a good job of helping the guys stay ready and keeping everybody in tune with everything thats going on.

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

New-look Mavs looking to make big jump this season

schanowski_mavs_.jpg
USA TODAY

New-look Mavs looking to make big jump this season

Outspoken Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban conceded his team was playing for draft lottery position last season, but insisted it would be a one year only strategy.

Dallas finished tied for the league’s third worst record, but fell to fifth after the lottery.

So, Cuban and the Mavs’ front office decided to make a bold move on draft night, trading their 2019 first round pick to Atlanta to move up two spots for a chance to select international sensation Luka Doncic.

Early in the season, Doncic has more than lived up to the hype, showing the creativity and flair that made him such a fan favorite on the European professional circuit. Through the Mavs’ first two games, Doncic is averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3.5 assists while giving Rick Carlisle’s team a much-needed boost in transition.

Doncic and second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. will give opposing teams nightmares in the open court all season long. They led the offensive onslaught in the Mavs’ 140-136 win over Dallas Saturday night, combining for 45 points. Doncic finished with 26 points, while Smith scored 10 of his 19 in the 4th quarter, including a tie-breaking three-point play with six seconds left.

Veteran swing-man Wesley Matthews added 19 against the Timberwolves, and his 3 point shooting helps the Mavs maintain floor balance in half-court sets.

The Mavs also strengthened their front court in the off-season, signing veteran center DeAndre Jordan in free agency. Dallas was overmatched in the middle last season, with future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Powell giving up size in the post, but Jordan will provide rim protection and an alley-oop threat when Doncic, Smith Jr. or veteran point guard J.J. Barea drive to the basket. Jordan had a big game in the home opening win over Minnesota, scoring 22 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and blocking 5 shots.

Nowitzki, starting small forward Harrison Barnes and backup guard Devin Harris all missed Saturday’s game because of injuries, but Barnes and Harris are considered game-time decisions against the Bulls.

Here’s what the Bulls will need to do to get their 1st victory of the season Monday night.

1. GET BACK ON DEFENSE! Doncic and Smith Jr. are deadly in the open court, capable of making spectacular plays to bring the home crowd to life. The Bulls’ players have to sprint back on defense after missed shots to cut off transition opportunities, or it’s going to be a long night. The Mavs are averaging 128 points through the first two games.

2. CLOSE OUT ON 3-POINT SHOOTERS This will be a familiar theme in my keys until the Bulls start doing a better job of matching up in transition and closing out on three point threats. Detroit’s win at the United Center on Saturday came down to the Pistons’ 18-40 shooting from three-point range, and Dallas has even more players capable of doing damage from beyond the arc.

3. LET DUNN DO IT Getting Kris Dunn back from paternity leave should make a big difference on both ends of the court. Dunn has the athleticism and physicality to match up with either Doncic or Smith Jr., and his defensive skills will be critical in keeping the Mavs from turning this game into a track meet.

On the offensive end, Dunn need to be patient and get the ball into the hands of the Bulls’ top scorers, Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis. Even though Fred Hoiberg wants his team to play at a fast pace, they’ll need to pick their spots on when to run against the explosive Mavs.

As always, turn to NBC Sports Chicago for the very best pre and post-game coverage. Kendall Gill and Will Perdue join me for Bulls Pregame Live at 7 p.m/, and we’ll have expanded post-game analysis when the action goes final in Dallas. You can also stream the shows live on the brand new My Teams by NBC Sports app.

Bears set “a new standard here” even in 38-31 loss to Patriots

bears_moon_patriots.jpg
USA TODAY

Bears set “a new standard here” even in 38-31 loss to Patriots

One yard. Less than one, really. That’s all that separated the Bears and the New England Patriots on Sunday, after Kevin White’s efforts to tug a Hail Mary into the Patriots end zone came up just that short in a 38-31 loss to the NFL’s greatest team over the better part of the past two decades.

And normally for a team under a first-time head coach (the Bears’ fifth coach since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady started their run in 2001) would feel good about nearly overcoming giving up two special-teams scores and two turnovers of their own, all against one of the NFL’s elites.

But feel-good was hard to find after a second straight loss of a winnable game to a good team.

“’Close’ doesn’t cut it,” said quarterback Mitch Trubisky,  who set career highs in pass attempts (50) and rushing yards (81) on his way to two passing and one rushing TD’s, but his lowest passer rating (69.8) of the season after throwing two interceptions.

“There’s a new standard here, and coming up one yard short and not tying the game and going to overtime, that’s not good enough anymore.”

Perspective isn’t particularly easy with a young team that dropped to 3-3, still its best scorecard after six games since 2014 but now back behind Minnesota and idle Green Bay, both at 3-2-1, and tied with Detroit (3-3).

Still, with their best individual player (Khalil Mack) hobbled with an injured ankle and a pass rush that got virtually no pressure on Brady, the Bears did find themselves at the Chicago 45 with a chance to tie with 2 seconds to play.

Maybe the marvel was that they were even that close to the Patriots, after special teams allowed a punt-block return for a touchdown and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

“We were right there. I think our offense is growing and I like where we are right now, I really do,” Nagy said.

More than that, as he told the players in the locker room afterwards, “With everything that happened to us and we were a yard away from tying the game. Take that and think about that a little bit.”

The ebbs and flows of the game notwithstanding – the Bears led 17-7 early in the second quarter, and were down 38-24 midway through the fourth – the game was arguably another small indicator that the Bears are the cliché’d “for real.”

Whatever that actually means.

The defense, which failed to protect leads in the fourth quarter in two of the Bears’ first four games, was unable to deliver a stop in the final minutes Sunday, allowing New England to drive 96 yards for score to go up 38-24 midway through the fourth quarter.

They “held” Brady and the New England offense to 24 points without Mack, the linchpin of their defense. But the Patriots were without Rob Gronkowski, the perennial Pro Bowl tight end and favorite target of Brady.

"I think it just comes down to knowing,” said cornerback Kyle Fuller, who intercepted his third pass in the past two games, “that if you are going against a good team, your room for error is slim, so you have to be on point the whole game."

And after some shaky handlings of in-game situations this season, Nagy was not out-coached by Belichick, who routinely takes an opponent’s strength away and who effectively took leading receiver Taylor Gabriel out of the offense. Nagy and Trubisky turned to tight end Trey Burton for 9 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown.

Trubisky hurt himself and the offense with a handful of bad misses of open receivers, including Anthony Miller in the end zone in the first half. New England forced him into quick-react decisions with an array of blitzes alternating with eight-man zones, and Trubisky was able to make the Patriots pay with short- and mid-range targets of Burton.

Accuracy cost Trubisky when he underthrew wideout Josh Bellamy who was two steps behind cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the third quarter for another missed touchdown opportunity. A subsequent sloppy throw on the run to Bellamy was intercepted when the ball was thrown to the defender’s side of Bellamy instead of toward the sideline, costing the Bears a chance at at least a field goal. A mis-placed fourth-quarter pass toward Miller later in the fourth quarter was intercepted at the New England 4.

But Trubisky’s 333 yards marked the third straight time he has passed for 300 or more yards and Nagy cited a number of throws that Trubisky didn’t make as evidence of improved decision-making.

“I came away pleased with how he played,” Nagy said.

Added Gabriel: "He's a playmaker, man. A guy that wanted to win. You can see that out of him. He's the leader of this team and I would go to battle with Mitch any day."