Bulls look to recover in Orlando on CSN

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Bulls look to recover in Orlando on CSN

The Bulls are hoping not to be on the wrong end of a team snapping a long losing streak when they travel to Orlando to take on the Magic tonight. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. followed by Bulls Postgame Live with Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill.
Tom Thibodeau's group ended 2012 on a sour note on Monday in a loss to the Bobcats, 91-81, to help Charlotte break an 18-game losing streak that dated back to Nov. 24. During that streak, opponents scored 100 or more points 15 times, yet the Bulls could only muster 81 points on a dreadful 35 percent shooting.
The Bulls' performance should give the Magic, losers of six straight, some added confidence heading into tonight's matchup. That, and the same day the Bulls had their hiccup against Charlotte, Orlando went down to the wire against the defending champion Miami Heat.
Related: Bulls play down to competition in Charlotte loss
The Magic led by as many as 11 points in the second half and seven in the fourth quarter, but LeBron James and company came back to win, 112-110, in overtime. But behind the late collapse was a career performance from center Nikola Vucevic, who went for 20 points and 29 rebounds against the Heat's weak interior.
Considered, more or less, as a throw-in as part of the four-team deal that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles and Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, the 22-year-old Vucevic has been a force inside through the season's first two months.
Starting all 31 games, Vucevic is averaging 10.8 points and 10.5 rebounds, the latter of which ranks seventh in the NBA. He's also improved since Glen Davis was sidelined with a shoulder injury, averaging 14.5 points 14.3 rebounds over the last six games. He went for 16 points and 10 rebounds in his first meeting with the Bulls on Nov. 6. It will be a tough task for Joakim Noah, if he's able to play -- Noah is still sick and is a game-time decision with flu-like symptoms, as is Vladimir Radmanovic.
Vucevic will be at the forefront of the Bulls' gameplan tonight, along with another newcomer leading the Magic in scoring in 2012-'13.
Related: Orlando's Davis says Bulls will be fine without Rose
Shooting guard Arron Afflalo was also a part of the Magic's deal involving Howard, coming from the overcrowded small forward position in Denver, and has thrived in his increased role in Orlando. Now in his sixth season, Afflalo scored 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting in the Magic's 99-93 loss in Chicago on Nov. 6, and has averaged 21.3 points during Orlando's losing streak.
Not to be forgotten behind Afflalo is sixth man J.J. Redick, who is also enjoying a career year in the wake of the All-Star Howard's departure. He has started just four games but is fourth on the team in minutes per game, averaging 14.4 points, 2.0 3-pointers, 2.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists, all of which are career-highs.
He may be a potential target for the Bulls at the trade deadline, as reported by CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher. Starter Rip Hamilton has returned to the lineup, and Marco Belinelli was improved in December, but the Bulls could be looking to shore up the position by acquiring another shooter; Redick would certainly fill that role.
Related: Could Bulls be players for Redick at deadline?
Afflalo and Redick have picked up the scoring load with Davis and Jameer Nelson (hip) out, but Nelson will return to the lineup tonight. They're coming off a solid performance against the Heat, and the Bulls are coming off their worst loss in the Tom Thibodeau era, so it could go either way tonight in Orlando. Tune into Comcast SportsNet all evening for your Bulls coverage, beginning at 6 p.m.

Go behind the scenes with Kendall Gill at The Big 3 in Chicago

Go behind the scenes with Kendall Gill at The Big 3 in Chicago

CSN Chicago's Bulls analyst Kendill Gill played in The Big 3 in Chicago's UIC Pavilion on Sunday and gave CSN some inside access.

Gill was mic'd up in warm-ups and talked to CSN's Mark Schanowski after the game. Gill's Team Power picked up another win to improve to 3-1.

Watch the video above to see the behind the scenes footage and the interview with Schanowski.

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

This story originally appeared on Big3.com. Hear from Kendall and Ice Cube as they give their opinions on the Aug. 26 fight in the video above.

Timing really is everything.

When I went to Las Vegas for the BIG3 combine and draft back in April, I liked my chances. Sure, I was one of the oldest guys there, but my training as a boxer (I fought professionally after my NBA days) keeps me in great shape.

So I was pretty shocked when I didn’t get drafted.

I tried to be positive about it. I figured maybe the man upstairs was saying, “Just sit tight. I gotta put you on the right team.”

So there I was, sparring in the gym the other day. I get out of the ring and there’s a text waiting for me from Corey Maggette, asking me if I want to play for Power.

He didn’t have to ask twice!

Next thing I know, I’m getting a call from Power’s coach, Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler. I looked up to Clyde my whole career, looked at him as a big brother. To play for him in the BIG3 is the perfect scenario.

So it was great to be in Philadelphia last Sunday and help Power defeat the Ghost Ballers in my BIG3 debut. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with Cuttino Mobley, DeShawn Stevenson, Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams and Paul McPherson.

I was a bit rusty on the offensive side, but my defense -- which has been a staple for me throughout my career -- my rebounding, passing, that was all on point. I found Cuttino and DeShawn for a couple of shots when we forced them to double-team down on me. I had Mike Bibby on me in the post, and they knew that he probably couldn’t guard me down there.

So it was a pretty good first day. Now that I’ve got that under my belt, here comes the fun part. Everybody was excited when I was finally added to a team, and when they found out we were playing in Chicago they got twice as excited. When I got off the plane from Philadelphia on Monday, I had about 50 messages waiting for me – friends and family asking for tickets to the UIC Pavilion for Sunday’s games.

And since I work Chicago Bulls games for CSN Chicago, the network is excited, too. They want to mic me up and follow me around for the day, go behind the scenes. Radio stations have been calling me for interviews about the BIG3 coming to Chicago. It’s exciting. But when it comes time to play, I’ve got to forget about all that and go out there and play.

A lot of people think I’m biased because I was born and raised here, and still live in Chicago, but if you look at the number of pro players that we’ve produced, there’s really nowhere else that can compare to Chicago as a basketball town. You look at all the number one picks in the draft. Look at the top five picks in the NBA Draft throughout history. I think you’d have to say Chicago is probably the number one producer of NBA players – and college basketball players for that matter.

Only a few fortunate kids make it up the ranks to college and the pros. For most kids growing up in Chicago, at least basketball can be an important recreational activity that helps keep them off the streets and out of trouble. But there’s so much more we can do. When I was preparing for the BIG3 draft, I was practicing with Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education. Duncan, who has played competitive 3-on-3 with USA Basketball, is doing some great work with underprivileged kids in Chicago.

For my part, I donated a home in Champaign-Urbana (home of my alma mater, the University of Illinois). It’s the Cunningham Children’s Home and it helps disadvantaged kids in the region. We just had our annual golf tournament last week. We’ve been doing it for 28 years and have raised more than $1 million for the home.

While Arne Duncan is doing great work with Chicago youth, I’m grateful for the work he put in with me on the basketball court. He showed me a lot about how to cut, do a lot of pick and rolls away from the ball. In 3-on-3, those aspects of the game are very undervalued. Some guys have a tendency to play too much one-on-one, which I saw in some of the other games I was watching Sunday. The 3-on-3 game is very easy if you do it right, like we did. I think that’s why we won that game. We did a lot of cuts, and it worked well for us.

So after the disappointment of not being drafted, I’m thrilled to be where I am now – playing for a Power squad that is 3-1 and looking good for the playoffs. Which got me to thinking…

I really love boxing – not just training and sparring myself, but watching it. Boxing is the sweet science.

If we are fortunate enough to make it to Las Vegas for the BIG3 championship game on August 26, there just happens to be a pretty big boxing match taking place that night, right down the road. You may have heard:  Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor.

Personally, I don’t think McGregor has a chance. I’ve seen Floyd train in person and I’ve seen all his fights at least 10 times. He’s one of the greatest fighters to ever live. Now a guy who has no boxing experience whatsoever is going to get into the ring with him? Not happening.

But it’s gonna be an event. Believe me, I’m planning to buy the Pay-Per-View.

Unless I’m in Vegas that day and get to see it in person. You know, right after we win the BIG3 title.