Bulls can't overcome huge deficit, gain ground

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Bulls can't overcome huge deficit, gain ground

Monday, March 28, 2011
Posted: 9:36 p.m. Updated: 11:59 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

For once, the Bulls dug themselves a hole deep enough that they couldnt climb out, falling to the 76ers, 97-85, Monday night at the United Center, ending both their 15-game home winning streak and four-game overall streak.

With the loss Chicago failed to gain ground on the Boston Celtics, who went down in Indiana, 107-100, thus keeping their lead at two games in the Eastern Conference.

Weve got to make the necessary corrections real fast because things can change very quickly in this league, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau cryptically stated. When you practice well, you play well. When youre not putting a lot into practice, youre not going to have an edge in the game. If you dont have an edge in the game, youre putting yourself in a bad position.

Thibodeau angry after loss

We came out flat and we tried to make a run in the third, but you exerted so much energy there that you didnt have enough to finish, continued the coach, who cited defense, rebounding, turnovers and free throws as some of his teams issues on the evening. There wasnt one phase of the game where we were doing the things that we should be doing. We put ourselves in a bad position.

For the third consecutive game, the Bulls got off to a slow start and while the Sixers didnt immediately take advantage, sloppy turnovers and poor defensive transition eventually allowed the visitors to get out to an early 19-10 advantage.

The likes of center Spencer Hawes (14 points) and sharpshooter Jodie Meeks buoyed Philadelphias offensive attack with their perimeter marksmanship, while versatile swingman Andre Iguodala (19 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) and second-year floor general Jrue Holiday (12 points, six assists) orchestrated the show.

I dont think theres a reason for the Bulls slow starts. Its not one or two guys. Its the whole starting unit. Weve got to come out and play harder. Thats really it, said Bulls center Joakim Noah. Everybodys playing for something. Theres really no excuses. Weve got to learn from this loss, move on and get better.

I dont think its a question of somebody hitting some shots. Its just the way we started the game. We didnt come with the right fight to start the game, he continued. I dont want to sound like Im blaming anybody. Its collectively.

The Sixers lead grew to double digits as the first quarter went on, as Hawes ability to step out, a sound defensive strategy and Bulls lapses in the same area allowed Philadelphia to take control of the game. Chicagos errant shooting from the field and out of sync, lackluster initial showing, had the Sixers holding a 27-13 lead at the conclusion of the opening period.

I saw on tape tonight when I was watching the Bulls games, something I thought we could do against them offensively and Spencer really took advantage of it, got us off to a great start, explained 76ers head coach Doug Collins. "Thaddeus Young was shot out of a cannon in the first half. He was so quick. I sent him a text last night about 12:30 and I said, I know youre going to bounce back and he said, You can count on me.

Chicagos Bench Mob was much more energetic than the starters with the exception of holdover Luol Deng (10 points, nine rebounds), who was aggressive on the offensive end, although the unit couldnt counter their Philadelphia counterparts, mostly due to the individual stylings of the aforementioned Young (21 points, seven rebounds). The efficient third-year southpaw used his quickness off the dribble and finishing ability around the rim to score 17 quick points and generally wreak havoc with his high activity level in an 11-minute stint.

The visitors lead swelled to over 20 points, dismaying the United Center crowd on Latin Night part of the NBAs Noche Latina initiative and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau countered the young Sixers athleticism by employing the smallish, jet-quick backcourt of All-Star point guard Derrick Rose (31 points, five assists) and his understudy, C.J. Watson.

When youre not playing the way that youre normally playing, its going to be tough. Every game, its going to be tough for us because teams are fighting for a spot and we know that we have a spot, but we cant come out the way we came out today, noted Rose. Every game youre not going to come back. You dont even want to be put in that position, where you have to come back or be down 20, especially to a team like that. Give them confidence, you never know what they can do.

We relaxed and you see what happened.

The pairing enabled the Bulls to more readily get out in transition and utilize more defensive pressure. As a result, Rose and Carlos Boozer (15 points, nine rebounds, four assists) both came alive late in the first half, but the Bulls still trailed, 53-37 at the break, with Sixers power forward and former Bull Elton Brand (13 points, nine rebounds) and the continued deluge of Bulls unforced errors turnovers and missed free throws alike all contributing to the disadvantage.

Los Bulls couldnt get it going after the intermission, exchanging baskets with the Sixers (or coming up empty on offense after a defensive stop), who continued to display good ball movement and play a tough, disciplined and active brand of defense, eventually forcing Rose into 10 turnovers by himself.

WATCH: Rose blames himself for loss

Hes so aggressive offensively, we tried to be aggressive with him. Jrue Holiday didnt score a lot of points, but he was the main guy on him, explained Brand. We just tried to make it tough for him because hes one of the top MVP candidates in the league, so its hard to just stop him.

Countered Thibodeau: Derricks seen that a lot. It was no different than what weve seen in the whole second half of the season. Hes aggressive. I thought he was getting hit on his drives. He wasnt getting calls, so we ended up with turnovers.

Rose himself was extremely frustrated afterwards; as is his habit, he takes every loss personally. This time the statistics backed it up and with turnovers being the bane of his existence, he heaped responsibility for the loss on his own shoulders.

We came out sluggish. This one was definitely on me. I didn't come out with intensity. I played like crap, said Rose. Just careless. Some of them were me driving, kicking the ball off my expletive foot. Just careless. I'm going to learn from it, watch video and I should be all right.

I think my turnovers definitely changed this gameI was dribbling the ball off my foot, hand or whatever. It was bad.

Brand continued to give his former team fits, but Rose put the Bulls on his back and with Boozers low-post presence and Noahs (10 points, 13 rebounds) glasswork, Chicago fought to try to make the deficit more manageable.

Philadelphia, however, had other plans, using their balanced attack to weather the storm and trapping Rose forcing other Bulls to make plays, a strategy that was successful enough to help the visitors maintain their comfortable double-digit lead.

But toward the end of the period, a Rose and Noah-propelled Bulls surge sliced into the deficit to make it a single-digit affair, 69-64, after three quarters, following a Kyle Korver jumper from the corner with 0.2 seconds remaining.

Thibodeau elected to start Rose in the final stanza indicative of the importance of the stretch and it paid off, as the third-year Windy City native got to the rim and finished, willing the Bulls into making it a close-knit affair, putting further pressure on Chicagos guests.

A combination of Bulls miscues and timely scoring by the Sixers, however, was enough for Philadelphia to again extend its cushion heading into the games stretch run, following a pair of consecutive Hawes mid-range jumpers.

A final push was in order and the Bulls appeared up for the challenge, first making it a two-possession game before yet another Hawes jumper and a Holiday fast-break layup off a Bulls turnover made it a 90-80 game with 1:46 left.

Perhaps the effort to get back into the game sapped too much of their energy, but uncharacteristic turnovers and a lack of hustle in the clutch paved the way for Philadelphia to cruise to victory in the final minutes with flair, as Iguodala and reserve guard Lou Williams (10 points) wolfed down a pair of back-breaking dunks in transition.

Its been coming. Were not happy with the way we played. Weve got nine games left, said Deng. We cant start games like that. Just take the positives out of it and use it as a wake-up call. The last few games, weve been winning, but weve got to get back to Bulls basketball, how weve been playing all year. No one is happy in this locker room and everybody is going to take it upon themselves to come out more aggressive and play harder.

Not taking anything away from Philly they played well tonight but we were a little careless with the ball. Weve got to be more decisive. They showed us different defenses. Its all right. We didnt play well. Well bounce back.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Windy City Bulls fill out roster in D-League expansion draft

Windy City Bulls fill out roster in D-League expansion draft

The Windy City Bulls are beginning to feel more like a real team.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls' new NBA D-League franchise that will play games in Hoffman Estates beginning this season participated in the league's expansion draft.

As one of three new expansion teams joining the NBA D-League this season, the Windy City Bulls were allowed to select 12 players from the other 19 teams in the league. Each returning D-League team was allowed to protect the rights to 10 players on each roster with two players being available to the Bulls, Long Island Nets and Greensboro Swarm.

The Bulls acquired the rights to 12 players as here's the rundown of who they selected.

Round 1: Wesley Saunders, G/F, Harvard (Austin Spurs)
Round 2: Kiwi Gardner, G, Midland College (Santa Cruz Warriors)
Round 3: Ralph Sampson III, C, Minnesota (Maine Red Claws)
Round 4: Booker Woodfox, G, Creighton (Texas Legends)
Round 5: Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette (Northern Arizona Suns)
Round 6: Akeem Richmond, G, East Carolina (Reno Bighorns)
Round 7: Casey Prather, G/F, Florida (Northern Arizona Suns)
Round 8: Jon Octeus, G, Purdue (Canton Charge)
Round 9: Justin Dentmon, G, Washington (Texas Legends)
Round 10: Jamal Jones, F, Texas A&M (Delaware 87ers)
Round 11: Xavier Thames, G, San Diego State (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)
Round 12: Ian Chiles, C, Morgan State (Salt Lake City Stars)

It's important to note that although the Bulls have the rights to these 12 players for two seasons that many of them might never suit up for the team. Many players from this expansion draft group will head overseas to pursue professional opportunities there. If they do end up signing a D-League contract, the Bulls will have right of first refusal, giving the Bulls rights to these players for two seasons.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Among the notables picked by the Bulls include the 5-foot-7 Gardner, who has had a successful D-League stint in the past as well as some experience in the Saudi Premier League. Local college hoops fans will probably recognize the 6-foot-3 McNeal from his days at Marquette where he played for one season with Bulls star Jimmy Butler. McNeal also has more NBA experience than anyone on the expansion list as he most recently finished out the 2014-15 season with the Phoenix Suns. Former Washington product Justin Dentmon is also a native of Carbondale as the 6-foot-0 guard helped Carbondale High School to a fourth-place finish in the 2004 IHSA Class AA state basketball tournament.

Windy City will tip off the season with a home opener at Sears Centre on Friday, Nov. 11. The 2016-17 D-League schedule was released earlier this week as Windy City will have 24 home games, including 16 that will be played on Friday or Saturday night. 

While the Windy City roster will look very different from this expansion draft list, the Windy City Bulls should help the main Bulls franchise develop young talent in a nearby location as it will be the start of a very intriguing dynamic.  

Derrick Rose is really, really confident with the Knicks

Derrick Rose is really, really confident with the Knicks

Derrick Rose has never been shy about voicing his opinion. And that didn't change once he was dealt to the Knicks in late June.

He told NBA.com in late July that the Knicks, who also signed Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings, had formed a "super team" with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Rose said both the Knicks and Warriors, who won 73 games and then added this generation's greatest scorer in Kevin Durant, were the two super teams in the NBA.

Rose then doubled down on those comments earlier this month, saying every player should "believe in yourself" enough to feel as though you're playing on a super team.

That confidence didn't waver in the last week, as Rose made headlines once again for saying the Knicks have a chance to do something pretty special.

"I think (the Knicks) have a chance to win every game, and in the league, that's rare," he told Yahoo! Sports.

Now, it's important to recognize that Rose is not saying the Knicks are going to go 82-0, or even that they have a realistic shot at doing so (though Rose's other super team in the NBA, Golden State, may have a shot). It'd be even more odd to hear Rose say there were games the Knicks had no shot at winning this season, even though their 32-win season from a year ago would suggest otherwise.

What Rose's comments really show is that he hasn't lost any of the confidence that made him the league's youngest MVP. Even while battling through his myriad injuries Rose maintained that he'd get back to the level he once showed as a dominant point guard in the NBA. And with a fresh start in New York, he's hoping that becomes a reality.

The Knicks have a decent shot at getting back to the postseason for the first time since 2013. But with new head coach Jeff Hornacek and many new pieces needing to mesh, there's bound to be a few games early in the year that the Knicks have no real shot at winning (like Opening Night in Cleveland).

Bulls Talk: SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell on Olympic gold for Team USA, Jimmy Butler's role in Rio

Bulls Talk: SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell on Olympic gold for Team USA, Jimmy Butler's role in Rio

As part of a joint collaboration between CSNChicago.com and SBNation.com's Blog a Bull, Mark Strotman and Ricky O'Donnell are breaking down the latest happenings on the Bulls. Check back all season long for more video hits and features.

On the first edition of the collaboration, Mark and Ricky break down USA Basketball's road to a third consecutive gold medal in this month's Rio Olympics.

It marked the third consecutive gold for Carmelo Anthony, the first man to accomplish that feat, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski finished his career as USA Basketball head coach 88-1, including a 76-game winning streak to end things.

Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler was on that squad and provided crucial defensive work on the team's second unit. The guys break down whether or not he'll be a part of the 2020 team that heads to Tokyo looking for a four-peat.

And Butler wasn't the only member of the Bulls participating in Rio. Mark and Ricky look at Nikola Mirotic's encouraging play for the Spanish national team, as well as Cristiano Felicio getting his feet wet for the host country, Brazil.

See all of what they had to say in the video above, and be sure to check out Blog a Bull all season long for Bulls news and analysis.