NBA-best Bulls rebound with easy win over league-worst Bobcats


NBA-best Bulls rebound with easy win over league-worst Bobcats

CHARLOTTEIn a matchup of the leagues best and worst teams this season, the Bulls outclassed the lowly Bobcats from start to finish Thursday night at Time Warner Cable Arena, blowing out historically awful Charlotte, 100-68.

Propelled by Rip Hamilton tying his season high in scoring, the Bulls bounced back from a surprising defeat in their previous outing to hand the Bobcats their 18th consecutive loss, even without the services of All-Stars Derrick Rose and Luol Deng for the second consecutive game.

The visitors didnt immediately jump on their inferior hosts, as one might expect after Mondays disappointing home loss to Washington. Young Bobcats (7-54) like emerging big man Byron Mullens, athletic swingman Gerald Henderson Jr. (13 points) and rookie point guard Kemba Walker (team-high 16 points, five assists) each made an early impact; in fact, the trio scored all of the home teams points in the opening period.

But while the Bulls (47-15) eventually clamped down on the defensive end, offense was never a problem, as starting post players Carlos Boozer (10 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and Joakim Noah (12 points, five rebounds) got off to quick starts, much of which was due to the playmaking of wings Hamilton (22 points on 9-for-13 shooting, 4-for-5 from three-point range, six assists) and Ronnie Brewer. The latter was also a force as a scorer, showing off his versatility in leading the Bulls to a 34-20 lead through a quarter of play.

The Bench Mob maintained the Bulls substantial edge in the second stanza, as the big-man tandem of Taj Gibson (nine points, 12 rebounds) and Omer Asik (nine points, 15 rebounds) dominated the interior, while rookie Jimmy Butler was an active presence in a rare early stint for the short-handed squad.

John Lucas III (12 points), thrust into a backup role in Roses absence and utilized earlier than usual due to fill-in starter C.J. Watsons early foul trouble, was also effective, while sharpshooter Kyle Korver kept the Bobcats defense honest. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau rode his reserves until the intermission and the guests went into halftime holding a 52-37 advantage.

Hamilton resumed his offensive exploits immediately after the break, with a focus on his torrid outside marksmanshiphe knocked down his first four attempts from beyond the three-point arcin another of his recent returns to his former All-Star form. Meanwhile, Boozer and Watson were also productive for the visitors, who extended their lead to over 20 points.

Chicagos balanced play and stifling defensive effort frustrated the young hosts, who seemingly couldnt catch a break and just couldnt get the ball to bounce their way, let alone get defensive stops consistently, hit open jumpers, finish around the basket or control the backboards. However, perhaps the Bulls starters got bored, as Charlotte mounted a late-period run to narrow the gap to 77-59 heading into the final stanza.

The entire fourth quarter was extended garbage tome, as the Bulls reserves got a chance for more action than usual, though that didnt improve the lot of the woeful Bobcats. The visitors lead ballooned to more than 30 points against their helpless hosts, giving the likes of Asik, Lucas and Gibson the opportunity to work on their games.

By the end, the only drama for the sparse crowd was whether fan favorite Brian Scalabrine would see any playing time, which he did, to the enjoyment of the dwindling number of fans in attendance. With the expected blowout victory in hand, the Bulls could now fully turn their focus to Thursdays showdown with the rival Heat in Miami.

Report: Bulls sign shooting guard R.J. Hunter to one-year deal

Report: Bulls sign shooting guard R.J. Hunter to one-year deal

According to ESPN's Jeff Goodman, the Bulls have agreed to a deal with former Celtics shooting guard R.J. Hunter.

Hunter, a first-round pick of the Celtics in 2015, appeared in 38 games as a rookie. He struggled from the field, shooting just 36.7 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from deep. He ultimately lost out on a roster spot this preseason in a crowded Celtics backcourt.

Hunter was the darling of the 2015 NCAA Tournament playing for his father at Georgia State. Hunter hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Baylor to propel the 14th-seeded Panthers to an opening-round win.

Hunter was a two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year, averaging 19.7 points per game as a junior.

The Bulls open their 2016-17 season tomorrow night against the Celtics.

Stay with for more updates on this story.

Rookie Denzel Valentine believes he'll play in Bulls' season opener

Rookie Denzel Valentine believes he'll play in Bulls' season opener

Showing no hesitation, Denzel Valentine stood some eight feet behind the 3-point line and launched a triple in Jimmy Butler’s face, then on the next possession, hit a corner triple that ended a contested 3-on-3 game following Bulls practice Wednesday.

He looks ready, sounds ready and most importantly, feels ready for the season opener Thursday night against the Boston Celtics after missing so much time with a right ankle sprain he suffered in the preseason opener well over two weeks ago.

“I think I’m going to suit up,” Valentine said. “Still have to talk to coach about it, but I think I’m going to suit up. I feel great.”

Assuming the Bulls play nine or 10 guys tomorrow night, Valentine should get some run against the Celtics considering how easily he adapts to the game—and the Bulls are in no position to discriminate if a guy can contribute, thus making Valentine’s recovery that much more important.

“It feels great right now. The staff, give them credit. They’ve done a great job of getting me back into great shape, getting my ankle stronger, so it feels great right now, and ready.”

It seemed the injury took longer than the initial prognosis, and even Valentine felt that, as the Bulls’ first-round draft pick was anxious to get back on the floor and learn the new system and teammates.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“Yeah, that was my first ever actual ankle sprain. I’ve twisted my ankle a couple times in college, and I’m back in a couple days, practicing the next day,” he said. “But this one took a while. It was kind of frustrating because I thought it was going to be just like college, twist my ankle and be right back, but it was kind of an unfortunate accident. It took longer to heal. It actually took longer to heal than me actually being out there. It took time, but I’m ready now.”

Heck, he even has a new teammate in Michael Carter-Williams and that affects him being a primary ballhandler on the floor. Fred Hoiberg envisioned Valentine being able to play some point behind Rajon Rondo but with the recent trade, Valentine will likely play more on the wings behind Butler and Dwyane Wade.

It’s another change in the early stages of his career—one where he hasn’t been able to establish much continuity. Hopefully for Valentine, the worst of this is behind him.

“It’s very difficult, and being in Chicago, we’ve played all of our preseason games here, so there wasn’t no traveling like mid-season, so everybody is here pretty much every day practicing, and I’ve got to sit out at it,” Valentine said. “They kind of lose a little chemistry towards me, and the guys getting to play with me and me getting to know them on the court, so kind of lose a little bit of rhythm. But the good thing about me is I don’t need a whole lot of time with the team. I can kind of just sneak my way in and adapt.”