76ers teammates Allen, Wayns have long-term connection

954321.png

76ers teammates Allen, Wayns have long-term connection

One started at center for the 76ers, scoring 10 points and pulling down eight rebounds in 33 minutes of action in the teams loss to the Bulls. The other is Philadelphias backup point guard and scored a modest two points in just over nine minutes of playing time Saturday night at the United Center.
But second-year big man Lavoy Allen and rookie point guard Maalik Wayns are more than just Sixers teammates. The duo has known each other for years, having been in the same Philly basketball circles since they were teenagersthey even played for the same AAU program, for the older brother of Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, though in different age groupsand were college rivals in the historic Big Five, as Allen starred for Temple and Wayns played at Villanova.
Both have also had unconventional roads to their current positions in the league, with Allen being a second-round pick in 2011he played in France during the lockout and was thought to be a long shot to make the Sixers rosterand Wayns not even being drafted this past June, then using an impressive NBA summer-league outing in Orlando to find his way back to his hometown.
More importantly, both are in the rotation and play vital roles for Philadelphia.
Those two guys have done a good job for us, 76ers head coach Doug Collins said before Saturdays game. If you look at it, Lavoy was the 50th pick in the draft, I think was voted last year, at the start of the season, the worst player in the NBA by ESPN and we had him on the floor, in many instances playing against Kevin Garnett in the Eastern Conference semis, so he made a huge jump. Friday night had a good game for us, tonight we really count on him.
Maalik, undrafted. We think he brings speed, he can score, gives us some nice juice off the bench, so its nice, continued the former Bulls head coach, himself an Illinois native. Not only that, theyre great kids. They want to win and you said that they had the local ties, and they want to play for the team that they grew up watching, so its pretty fun.
Allen had his coming-out party in the playoffs, faring well against the Bulls and if not shutting down Garnett, a future Hall of Famer known for verbally abusing rookiesthat tactic didnt work with the 6-foot-9, well-built Allen, who has the same, laid-back demeanor on and off the courtat least making him work on both ends of the floor.
Asked about his playoff experience against the Bulls, the Bristol, Penn., product, who signed a multi-year contract extension over the summer, a reward for being such a pleasant surprise in his debut campaign, instead broke down the changes in the team.That was last year, so I dont really reflect on that. Whenever I go out there, I just try to play the best I can, he told CSNChicago.com. Without Derrick Rose? Less screen-and-rolls. Its more posting up, Rip or Luol or Carlos Boozer. More isolation plays.
Allen, having experienced both the joys and challenges associated with playing for ones hometown team, is able to counsel Wayns about some of those pitfalls. The stocky, quick, 6-foot-2 floor generalbuilt just like Lowry, his mentor and fellow ex-Villanova star, and equipped with a similar style of playhas earned a role backing up Jrue Holiday, one of the leagues rising young stars and a player Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau described as one of the games elite point guards, even prior to the contest.
Its great, man. Its an experience. Just being a Sixers' fan before it all and now, being able to play for the Philadelphia 76ers, its a great experience. Just taking it all in, he told CSNChicago.com. He dealt with the same situation last year. Being home and playing in the NBA for the first time, dealing with people, dealing with your family, dealing with ticket situations, so hes helped me a whole lot.
Joked Allen: Its being teammates with Wayns not really that fun at all, actually.
Its cool, just having somebody that I grew up around, went through the same stuff and same area, so Im happy for him. He made it, he continued. Its going to take a lot of rest with all these games. Even when youre not playing, stay in shape. You never know how many minutes youre going to play the next game.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Here are some of the top Chicago sports stories from

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Bulls erase recent struggles, hand Spurs first road loss of season

Joe Maddon breaks down Wade Davis vs. Aroldis Chapman as Cubs ramp up for another World Series run

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook out vs. Rangers

Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls

Bears, Lions have been totally different teams in fourth quarters

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Cubs unveil championship Trophy Tour