Carmelo Anthony wins Western Conference Player of the Week after playing Bulls twice in five days

Carmelo Anthony wins Western Conference Player of the Week after playing Bulls twice in five days

Ask Carmelo Anthony what he's most thankful for this holiday season, and it wouldn't be surprising if playing against the Bulls quickly came up in conversation. 

Presumed out of the league for good mere months ago, Anthony just took home Western Conference Player of the Week honors in only his second week since signing with the Trail Blazers. The opponents he faced? The Bulls, the Thunder and — ah, man — the Bulls, again. Portland won all three contests. Something about this doesn't feel incidental.

In those two games against Chicago, Anthony averaged 24 points and 9.5 rebounds on a clean 50% shooting, both from the field and from three. In the first three games of his Trail Blazers tenure, which preceded his ceremonious visit to the United Center last Monday, Anthony was 15-for-44 (34.1%) from the field and 5-for-16 (31.3%) from three. Anthony has dropped 20+ points on the Bulls for four different teams in his career.

Last week in the Western Conference also featured James Harden scoring 60 points in three quarters against the Hawks and Luka Doncic averaging 33/9.3/8 on 45.1% shooting and 22.8 field goal attempts per (yes, that's par for the course for Luka, but we can't lose sight of how ridiculous he is). 

But Anthony snagged the award (*HardenEyeRoll.gif*), and in doing so added to, let's be honest, one of the feel-good stories of the season. In his only non-Bulls game of the week, Anthony dropped 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting against another former team (sorry) in the Thunder. 

Revenge-week Melo scary, I guess. 

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What to watch for when the Bulls and Trail Blazers square off for the second time in a week

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USA Today

What to watch for when the Bulls and Trail Blazers square off for the second time in a week

For the second time this week, the Bulls play the Trail Blazers — this time in Portland. The game tips off at 9 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago — until then, here’s what to watch for:

Rebounding a key

On paper, the Trail Blazers are not a great rebounding group. In practice, they dominated the boards Monday at the United Center, out-rebounding the Bulls 61-44 (13-8 on the offensive glass, leading to 16 second-chance points). Whether you chalk that up to poor positioning, scrambled rotations or effort (or all three), that disparity must close Friday.

But a regression to the mean isn’t a guarantee. The Bulls followed up that Monday night performance with a 104-90 loss to Golden State on Wednesday, a loss in which the league-worst Warriors out-rebounded them 54-42. The Bulls’ two leading rebounders in that game were Wendell Carter Jr. (nine) and Tomas Satoransky (seven) — no one else had more than five. Given the swarming, physically-taxing style the Bulls like to play, finishing defensive possessions on the glass is imperative to preserving energy and mitigating against rotational breakdowns on second chances.

Lauri Markkanen, specifically, could use a get-right game in this department. He has five rebounds in his last two games, and only pulled down one board against Portland, Monday. He’ll also again take defensive responsibilities on Carmelo Anthony, who followed up a 25-point outing against the Bulls with a 19-point, 9-for-11 shooting performance against the Thunder on Wednesday. (Revenge-week Melo scary.)

Final note on this: Beware of Hassan Whiteside. Jim Boylen has made much of his exploits against the Bulls in the past, which proved prophetic on Monday: Whiteside had 13 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and affected countless looks at the rim in the game. He currently ranks second in the NBA among qualified players in Reb% (20.6%) and has propped up a depleted Blazers front court early in the season.

A man on fire

For extended stretches of this season, Zach LaVine has kept the Bulls offense afloat. Even in a slew of recent defeats, it’s been quite fun to watch:

 

His surface-level numbers over the last three games (34.3 points per game, 55.4% shooting on 21.7 FGA, 58.1% from three on 10.3 3PA) are just ridiculous. Yes, the absurdity of those numbers is largely buoyed by his 49-point, 13-three pointer night in Charlotte. And yes, he couldn’t singlehandedly keep the Bulls in their last matchup with Portland on Monday.. 

But he did get off to a hot start in that game, scoring nine first-quarter points and leading the Bulls to a 28-27 advantage after one. Things obviously got away from the Bulls quickly after that, but a Trail Blazers team that — for all their offensive dynamism — lacks lock-down defensive presence on the perimeter, still presents a favorable matchup for LaVine. Even if the Bulls, as a team, can’t right the ship, he should get his buckets, and that’s appointment television.

Snake-bitten Bulls

Per Jim Boylen, Chandler Hutchison (right shoulder) has already been ruled out for Friday night’s game, and Tomas Satoransky (sprained toe) is questionable and a game-time decision.

Hutchison injured his right shoulder early in Wednesday’s loss to the Warriors, marking the fifth consecutive game that the Bulls have been mostly without him. It has yet to be announced who will slide into the starting lineup, but safe money is on Shaq Harrison, who has started in Hutchison’s place three times this season. Denzel Valentine (40% three-point shooting in his last three games) is another candidate to see more run.

Satoransky’s designation is a bit more surprising — he apparently suffered a sprained big left toe in Wednesday's loss and didn't participate in shootaround this morning. If he misses tonight’s game or is at all hampered, his length and activity will be missed, both on the glass and defensively, against one of the more dynamic backcourts in the league in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He's also been one of the offensive few bright spots in a bleak stretch of the season, averaging 13.3 points, 6.7 assists and five rebounds on 50% shooting (40% from three) in his last three games.

Kris Dunn and Coby White (alert the #StartCoby hive) would be candidates to start in his place. If Boylen has to break up his bench unit (something he’s been reluctant to do), keep an eye out for any other rotation experiments he might try.

Former Bull Jalen Rose calls for a new Bulls coach

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USA Today

Former Bull Jalen Rose calls for a new Bulls coach

Retired basketball player Jalen Rose recently had something to say about his former team on his talk show Get Up! on ESPN. Rose seems to think the best way for the Bulls to succeed going forward would be to find a new coach.

"I'm going to say something about the underachieving Chicago Bulls. They need a new coach," Rose said. "They really do because they have so much young talent on that squad, and I don't think they are developing properly."

Despite what critics like Rose have been saying, both management and ownership believe in Boylen. Bulls VP of operations John Paxson has spoken publicly about Boylen’s skills at teaching the fundamentals and holding his players accountable. K.C. Johnson answered fan questions about Boylen and the Bulls coaching in his weekly mailbag, which you can read here.

You can watch Rose's whole video below here:

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