Bulls' defense bludgeons Pistons in workmanlike win

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Bulls' defense bludgeons Pistons in workmanlike win

It wasnt prettysince when was that a prerequisite for this team to win a game?but a combination of suffocating defense and a strong performance from the frontcourt propelled the Bulls to an 83-71 win over the Pistons at the United Center Friday night.

In yet another game in which they were short-handedstarting shooting guard Rip Hamilton was apparently a late scratchthe Bulls used their trademarks, offensive balance and stingy defense, to bludgeon an inferior opponent and their Central Division rival.

A balanced Pistons (18-33) attack, helmed by rookie point guard Brandon Knight (16 points), put the Bulls in an early hole in the opening period.

For the hosts, Carlos Boozer (13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists) was an active force from the outset, finishing with bounce and power, as well as attacking the boards alongside Joakim Noah (19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists).

The typical, unselfish brand of offense the Bulls (42-11) are accustomed to playing quickly made it a close-knit affair, subsequently followed by the deficit being completely erased.

By virtue of solid play from all five startersthe perimeter trio of All-Star Luol Deng (20 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and backcourt partners C.J. Watson (11 points, five assists) and Ronnie Brewer were also strong contributorsthe first quarter ended with the Bulls holding a 28-25 advantage.

The hot shooting of both teams tailed off dramatically in the second stanza, as a combination of good defense and bad offense prevailed. However, the Bulls maintained their lead, as Deng helped hold things together with the Bench Mob and the Pistons struggled to score, with the exception of veteran Tayshaun Prince (14 points, six rebounds).

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau eventually reinserted the bulk of his regulars and Noah provided a spark, aiding the Bulls in holding on to the breathing room they had obtained.

At the intermission, the Bulls were up, 44-35.

Deng excelled after the break, scoring by attacking the basket, but also proving his value as a elite-level defender and all-around talent. Noah also chipped in, giving the Bulls a scoring presence, in addition to his usual work on the glass and defensive end, all of which helped the Bulls keep some distance between themselves and their guests.

But the skilled play of much-improved second-year big man Greg Monroe (14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) helped the Pistons gradually climb back into the contest, something aided by the Bulls issues with ball security.

Still, through three periods of play, the Bulls led, 65-61.

A strong effort from Taj Gibson propelled a Bulls run that yielded a double-digit advantage for the hosts, again putting them comfortably in front of the visitors.

However, the Pistons werent through and with the likes of Knight and versatile backup forward Jonas Jerebko providing a boost of energy, Detroit was once again right on the heels of the home team.

The visitors comeback was aborted, however, as timely plays from Boozer and Noah extended the Bulls lead as the game entered its stretch run and with under a minute remaining, a thunderous Noah dunk over Pistons veteran Jason Maxiell sealed the deal.

With yet another home win under their belt, the Bulls now look ahead to Sundays marquee matchup against the Western Conference-leading Thunder in Oklahoma City.

Joakim Noah posts Instagram picture wearing Knicks hat

Joakim Noah posts Instagram picture wearing Knicks hat

Joakim Noah doesn't have time for "unnamed league sources."

The former Bulls center posted a picture to his Instagram account on Friday afternoon of himself wearing a New York Knicks hat, indicating he has signed with the team as a free agent.

Jah bless

A photo posted by Joakim Noah (@stickity13) on

Indications since last night, when free agency began, were that Noah, who spent 10 seasons in Chicago, was going to sign with his hometown Knicks.

Last week the Bulls dealt Derrick Rose to the Knicks in a five-player deal. Noah and Rose have been teammates since Rose came into the league in 2008.

NBA free agency tracker: The latest on the Bulls

NBA free agency tracker: The latest on the Bulls

It's Friday evening and the Bulls have not yet inked any new contracts during the free agency period.

But they have been mentioned with a handful of players. Some have been signed by opposing teams, while others remain free agents. Here's a look at the players who have been linked to the Bulls in reports:

July 1: Solomon Hill, SF - TNT's David Aldridge tweeted early Friday morning the Bulls were interested in Hill. The Pacers small forward averaged 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in 59 games last season. Aldridge tweeted that the Jazz and Grizzlies were also looking at the 25-year-old Hill.

Update: Hill wound up signing with the Pelicans on a four-year, $48 million deal, according to Marc Stein.

July 1: E'Twaun Moore, SG - The Bulls have long been linked to re-signing Moore, who had a career year in his second season with the Bulls. But there's plenty of competition for the combo guard's services. Stein tweeted that Moore was set to meet with teams later Friday and would "move quickly" in a decision. The Bucks, Wolves and Pelicans were three of six teams who reportedly reached out to Moore.

July 1: Dion Waiters, SG - ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported early Friday morning that the Bulls were one of six teams who reached out to representatives of Dion Waiters. One of the biggest surprises in last year's playoffs, Waiters averaged 8.4 points, connected on 38 percent of his 3's and played stellar defense in the postseason. Waiters has attracted the most attention from the Kings, per reports, and there's been little to suggest the Bulls are actively pursuing the 24-year-old shooting guard.

June 30: Tyler Johnson, SG - During Adrian Wojnarowski's free agency show streaming on Yahoo, the NBA reporter noted that the Bulls were interested in Miami's Tyler Johnson. The 24-year-old shooting guard showed promise in his second season with the Heat, averaging 8.7 points on 48.6 percent shooting in 36 games, including five starts. His season was cut short in February due to a shoulder injury. He's a restricted free agent, but with the Heat signing Hassan Whiteside to a max deal and still attempting to bring back Dwyane Wade - and potentially sign Kevin Durant - Pat Riley likely won't have the money to bring back Johnson with a matched offer sheet.

June 30: Evan Turner, SG - On the eve of free agency, Sean Deveney reported that the Bulls, along with the Lakers, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Knicks and Pelicans all were interested in Turner. The Chicago native was in line for a significant payday following a successful year off the bench in Boston, where he averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in just 28 minutes.

Update: After missing out on Chandler Parsons (Memphis), the Trail Blazers struck quickly and inked Turner to a four-year, $70 million deal.

June 30: Moe Harkless, SF - Thursday night, Alex Kennedy reported that the Bulls were one of five teams, including the Pistons, Wizards, Lakers and Mavericks, interested in the Blazers' restricted free agent. Harkless performed well in last year's playoffs, averaging 11.0 points and 5.1 rebounds. He was particularly impressive in the first round against the Clippers, averaging 12.7 points on 47.6 percent shooting and 6.2 rebounds in the six-game victory. With the Blazers signing Evan Turner to a $70 million deal, it's unlikely they'd match an offer sheet on Harkless.

June 30: Harrison Barnes, SF - The Bulls have been linked to Barnes for quite some time. The Sixers have come on strong as a team that could offer the restricted free agent a max contract. But even if the Bulls or Sixers, or another team, offer Barnes a max contract, the Warriors are reportedly expected to match any deal if they don't sign Kevin Durant, who met with the Warriors on Friday. CSN's David Kaplan also heard from multiple people that Barnes was in Chicago earlier this week. Barnes struggled mightily in last year's NBA Finals, shooting 5-for-32 in the last three games of the series. Still, at just 24 years old, he has plenty of room to grow and hasn't yet been featured as a team's No. 1 or No. 2 option.

How Bulls could land a max free agent and re-sign E’Twaun Moore

How Bulls could land a max free agent and re-sign E’Twaun Moore

Quick note here because we are all eager to get back to our twitter feeds and wild speculation. Even though the Bulls will only have approximately $24 million in cap space, there is one situation in which they can sign a Tier 1 max player AND re-sign E’twaun Moore.

This all hinges on the deal (and discount) that Moore would give the Bulls. The Bulls have Early-Bird rights with Moore; that means they can potentially sign him to a deal and not eat into their cap space. There are a lot of rules into how this works and I won’t bore you with details, but the bottom line is that the Bulls can offer a 3-year deal for approx. $21 million or a 4-year deal for appox $28 million. If Moore accepts this contract, the Bulls just to have account for his ‘cap hold’ of $980,431 in free agency until the actual deal is signed. 

This potential deal would leave the Bulls approximately $23 million to spend, well above the $22.2 million it would take to land a Tier 1 (0-6 year NBA player) in free agency. This includes restricted free agent Harrison Barnes. Again, this only works if Moore doesn’t want to test free agency, or doesn’t receive a better offer in free agency. If Moore wants more money, the Bulls have to use their cap space to sign him to a larger deal.

One important key to any restricted free agent like Barnes, the Warriors will have 3 days to match any offer sheet that Barnes signs. Barnes can’t sign an offer sheet until July 7th, so the Warriors effectively will have until at least July 10th to make that decision. This prevents any team like the Bulls ‘swooping’ in and landing Barnes while Kevin Durant conducts his meetings in the Hamptons.