Kidd provides positive outlook on Rose

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Kidd provides positive outlook on Rose

Being that it's Christmas Eve, most people are in a festive mood these days. Even Bulls fans, who started this season in gloom-and-doom mode, due to the absence of Derrick Rose and the team's shaky start, are now more optimistic with the new-look roster finding its stride and notching some impressive wins as of late.
When it comes to Rose's recovery, it seems like there's a new story about his progress every other day. But as secretive as the organization can be, the truth is that nobody but Rose and the medical staff truly can make any ballpark guess as to when he could return.
While it's encouraging that he's doing increasingly more drill work and starting to participate in walk-through sessions, in the grand scheme of things that doesn't mean much. Only he knows how his body feels and only trained medical professionals can accurately gauge his readiness to play again, no matter what Adrian Peterson's potential record-breaking NFL season or anything Ricky Rubio does makes us believe.
But if there's anything to be gleaned from the experiences of other, perhaps a better person than most to ask is future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. Now playing off the ball for the Knicks, Kidd is one of the greatest playmakers in NBA history and, for those who didn't see him when he was young -- I'm talking about when he was a high school All-American, in college at Cal or during his early days as a pro in Dallas, even before making back-to-back Finals appearances with the Nets, let alone winning the 2011 title in his second stint with the Mavericks -- aside from being a great passer, Kidd was an explosive player with the ability to finish above the rim.
Maybe he wasn't an elite athlete like Rose, but his size and speed, coupled with his legendary court vision, gave him a dimension that opponents found extremely difficult to deal with. Like Rose, Kidd was destined for greatness very early in his career -- and reached his potential as one of the game's greatest point guards -- but they also share similarities in that neither was a great shooter early on (Kidd, now a solid long-distance threat, was often jokingly referred to as "Ason," because he had no "J") and both had serious knee injuries as young players, with Kidd having to have microfracture surgery, then regarded as a potentially career-ending procedure.
Prior to the Bulls' wild win over the Knicks in New York, I briefly caught up with Kidd as he finished his pregame shooting -- he doesn't talk in the locker room before games and given the circumstances of Friday evening, I didn't catch him in time afterwards -- and we discussed Rose's recovery."It's a lot of hard work, especially when you're talking about your knee. You've just got to be patient, but you've got to do all the little things to maintain that strength and I know Derrick is going to do that. From what I'm hearing, he's worked extremely hard. It takes time," Kidd told me. "Sometimes things happen for a reason and maybe now, he'll pay a little more attention to that jump shot. If he gets that, then he's pretty much unguardable because of his athletic ability and his knowledge of the game, so I think it's a good thing."My Christmas gift to you: Kidd's optimism about Derrick.
I hope everybody enjoys the holiday season, hopefully with their loved ones--I have a rare day off tomorrow and won't be at Omer Asik's return to Chicago, though I'll be back in action Wednesday at Indiana.

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Jimmy Butler records triple-double as Bulls beat Cavaliers again without LeBron James

Jimmy Butler records triple-double as Bulls beat Cavaliers again without LeBron James

Winning a game against a LeBron James led team has proven to be an easier task than most for the Chicago Bulls in the last couple regular seasons.

And winning without James has proven to be a herculean task for the Cleveland Cavaliers since his return in 2014.

So putting those two events together seemed to produce an inevitable result at Quicken Loans Arena, with James out due to illness, as the Bulls pulled away from the Cavaliers 117-99 Saturday night.

The win marks the fourth straight for the Bulls, pulling them over .500 for the first time in nearly two months and they lead the season series 3-0 over the NBA Champions.

Of course, if James were healthy perhaps the Cavaliers would look more cohesive but without him, only Kyrie Irving was in double figures amongst the starters for most of the night. Irving was unguardable with 34 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

After the lead rose to 20, Irving went to work to get the Cavaliers back in it by scoring eight in the quarter and cutting the lead in half with 2:30 left. But without James, the Bulls were able to hold off the Cavaliers with baskets from 
Cristiano Felicio and Nikola Mirotic, who had his second straight big game with 14 points and 10 boards.

A third-quarter flurry from the Bulls gave them some breathing room after a back-and-forth 24 minutes. The Cavs threatened to blow the game open with a 65-59 lead to start the third but the Bulls quickly turned the tables, getting stops and leaking out for fast breaks.

Dwyane Wade corralled weak-side rebounds and popped it ahead to Butler and Bobby Portis for layups. 

Butler then hit two triples in succession to give the Bulls a 76-67 lead.

He struggled from the field but hit four triples on his way to 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and Wade was one rebound short—one Felicio rebound attempt with seconds remaining, from getting a triple-double with 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in 34 minutes

But the 3-point shooting has been a welcome addition since the trade of Doug McDermott, their best 3-point shooter.

Denzel Valentine followed up his sterling showing Friday night with another competent and confident performance, hitting three triples to score 11 and at least competing on the defensive end.

Cameron Payne made his debut as a Bull and hit two triples in the first half, both passes off the ball as he hasn't had enough time to grasp the offense, only going through a morning walkthrough with the coaching staff after the team arrived in Cleveland.

All in all, the Bulls had their ninth game with 10 or more triples, hitting 15.