Chicago Bulls

Belinelli, Bulls hold off Wizards

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Belinelli, Bulls hold off Wizards

A win is a win, the old axiom goes and it certainly applied Saturday night, as the Bulls (16-12) held on to beat the woeful Wizards (4-24), 87-77, at the United Center, snapping a two-game losing streak.

It wasnt a textbook victory by any means and in terms of performances, a superior opponent could have probably overcome the hosts listless effort, but no matter the Bulls simply needed to get off the schneid and sometimes the best cure for what ails a team is facing off with the most inept foe possible, especially when the game ends on a stellar defensive note.

MORE: No contact yet, but Rose returns to practice; set to travel

The veteran backcourt of Kirk Hinrich (10 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and Rip Hamilton (nine points in 14 minutes) the latter returned to the lineup after missing nearly a month due to a torn left plantar fascia, though he exited the contest midway through the period started the game with an aggressive offensive mindset, but the Bulls were countered by a confident Wizards group coming off one of their four wins on the season.

MORE: Hamilton makes his return to Bulls' lineup

Buoyed by a victory the previous evening, the likes of veteran big man Nene, rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal (14 points) and reserve post player Kevin Seraphin (12 points) originally a Bulls draft pick, he was sent to Washington along with Hinrich back in 2010 were effective and efficient scoring threats.

Luol Deng (11 points, six rebounds, four assists), who sprained his right ankle in the hosts Christmas Day loss to Houston, also made his presence felt in the early going, but two quick fouls on Joakim Noah (nine points, 11 rebound, five assists) hurt their cause, further allowing the visiting big men to establish themselves and the Wizards to build a slim cushion. At the conclusion of the first quarter, the Bulls trailed the team with the NBAs worst record, 26-22.

Deng continued his positive early play and was complemented by reserves Taj Gibson and Marco Belinelli (17 points), who replaced Hamilton earlier from his previous role off the bench, but maintained his confidence and appeared to be poised to become a second-unit spark.

Still, it remained a close-knit affair, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau seemed to be experimenting with different lineups, given that he finally had a healthier rotation at his disposal.

Gradually, the Bulls gained some separation and propelled by the energetic play of backup point guard Nate Robinson, as well as Noah providing a lift upon his return and Carlos Boozer (15 points, 12 rebounds) being active on the glass, the game bore a closer resemblance to what could have been expected.

But by no means were the Bulls running away with the contest and at the intermission, they held a 45-39 lead, following a jumper by Shelvin Mack, called up from the D-League by Washington recently, at the halftime buzzer.

After the break, a balanced offensive attack resulted in the Bulls building a double-digit lead, as improved defense, Wizards turnovers and a greater sense of urgency were all factors. Hamilton looked to be back to his usual form, while Boozer and Noah found their grooves as scorers, allowing Hinrich to focus on playmaking and defense.

However, that stretch didnt last, as Washington, led by the likes of veteran Emeka Okafor (11 points, 18 rebounds) and starting point guard Garrett Temple, another D-League call-up, helped the visitors severely cut into the deficit, eventually making it a two-point game after an 11-0 run as the third quarter wore on.

But the Bulls recovered from their temporary bout of malaise and behind the combination of Hinrich and Belinelli, they headed into the final stanza with a 70-63 advantage, after Mack hit yet another improbable buzzer-beater to end the period.

Belinelli emerged as the Bulls catalyst at the outset of the fourth quarter, helping the home team maintain their edge, but the Wizards continued to battle and remained within striking distance, as Okafor and Beal made positive impacts for the visitors. The pattern of Washington narrowing the gap and the Bulls subsequently pulling away persisted, as Boozer joined Belinelli as an offensive focal point.

Heading into the games stretch run, the Bulls cushion stayed intact, partially due to the fact that Washington couldnt muster up enough offense to stay in close contact, but it was also notable that Thibodeau opted to go with Jimmy Butler the second-year swingman previously looked like the odd man out of the wing rotation with Hamiltons return over Deng, the leagues minutes-per-game-leader in the clutch, during which the Wizards were scoreless over the final 5:18.

In the end, the devil is in the details and at the conclusion of the 82-game season, the hard-to-watch proceedings will simply go down as a Bulls victory in the standings.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Why Bulls fans should not feel like they 'missed out' on trading for Kyrie Irving

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Why Bulls fans should not feel like they 'missed out' on trading for Kyrie Irving

On the latest Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson break down the Kyrie Irving trade rumors, Derrick Rose’s move to Cleveland, and Kendall’s appearance in the ‘Big 3’.

Kendall shares what it was like when he wanted out of Charlotte, and how Rose to the Cavs only works if Kyrie is gone.

The trio also explains why Bulls fans should not feel like they ‘missed out’ on trading for Irving. Plus behind-the-scenes of KG’s hometown return to the court.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Bank shot: You won't believe how much more money Derrick Rose's former teammates are making compared to him

Bank shot: You won't believe how much more money Derrick Rose's former teammates are making compared to him

At one time, Derrick Rose was cruising towards becoming one of the NBA's highest-paid players.

Not any longer. 

The point guard agreed to terms with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a one-year, $2.1 million deal - otherwise known as the veterans minimum - on Tuesday. That's quite a fall from grace for the 2011 MVP. 

To be fair, the 28-year-old could have pocketed more if he signed with a number of other teams, but he prioritzed winning this offseason. 

Either way, for a guy coming off his best offensive season (18 points per game on 47 percent shooting) since 2012, the low salary is somewhat of a surprise. 

To contextualize the deal, here's a look at former Bulls teammates who will bring home more bacon next season: 

Player | 2017-2018 salary | 2016-2017 points per game | 2016-2017 rebounds per game | 2016-2017 assists per game 

Jimmy Butler | $19.3 million | 23.9 points | 6.2 rebounds | 5.5 assists

Joakim Noah | $17.8 million | 5.0 points | 8.8 rebounds | 2.2 assists

Luol Deng | $17.1 million | 7.6 points | 5.3 rebounds | 1.3 assists

Pau Gasol | $16 million | 12.4 points | 7.8 rebounds | 2.3 assists

Taj Gibson | $14 million | 10.8 points | 6.2 rebounds | 0.9 assists

Omer Asik | $10.6 million | 2.7 points | 5.3 rebounds | 0.5 assists

Tom Thibodeau | $10 million | 24.2 "ice" yells per game

Tony Snell | $9.9 million | 8.5 points | 3.1 rebounds | 1.2 assists

E'Twaun Moore | $8.4 million | 9.6 points | 2.1 rebounds | 2.2 assists

Cristiano Felicio | $7.8 million | 4.8 points | 4.7 rebounds | 0.6 assists

D.J. Augustin | $7.2 million | 7.9 points | 1.5 rebounds | 2.7 asssists

Kyle Korver | $7.8 million |10.1 points | 2.8 rebounds | 1.6 assists

Marco Belinelli | $6.6 million | 10.5 points | 2.4 rebounds | 2.0 assists

Justin Holiday | $4.6 million | 7.7 points | 2.7 rebounds | 1.2 assists

Doug McDermott | $3.3 million | 9.0 points | 2.7 rebounds | 0.9 assists

* We're not sure the exact salary of Brian Scalabrine, but the Big 3 may be paying him more than $2.1 million. *