No ulcer issues; Rose, Bulls feast on Magic

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No ulcer issues; Rose, Bulls feast on Magic

Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011
Posted Jan. 28, 9:51 p.m. Updated 12:27 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

It wasnt quite Michael Jordans flu game in terms of the stage or significance but a day after revealing he was suffering from stomach ulcers, newly-named All-Star Game starter Derrick Rose helped the Bulls (32-14) overcome a 40-point performance by Magic (30-17) center Dwight Howard.

After two embarrassing losses to Orlando (once in the preseason, once in Carlos Boozers Bulls debut) this season, Chicago utilized a stout defensive effort on everybody but Howard and a huge second half from Luol Deng to conquer their fellow Eastern Conference contenders, 99-90, Friday night at the United Center.

WATCH: Rose describes impact of ulcers

An inauspicious start to the contest seemed like a bad omen for Chicago, but although the Bulls bounced back quickly behind two three-pointers from the unlikeliest of contributors, much-maligned starting shooting guard Keith Bogans Howards interior dominance was problematic, as the All-Stars combination of size, athleticism and physicality overwhelmed an undersized Bulls frontline, aiding Orlando in jumping out to a slim cushion.

Although Rose struggled shooting the ball in the first period he shot 3-for-11 over the course of the quarter he showed no ill effects from missing two days of practice in the wake of his stomach-ulcer diagnosis, displaying the quickness and athleticism that have become his trademarks.

Derricks Derrick. The game starts, hes going. I thought he was terrific. He didnt shoot the ball well, which I sort of expected. Hes had six of the last nine days offI loved the way he played. I thought he played tough, I thought he made the right playswhen you take everything into consideration not practicing, not feeling well and to do everything that he did, you cant say enough about him, praised Thibodeau.

He looked the same. Its amazing. When he plays, he plays so hard and hes taking hits all the time, but the thing that I respect about him, he always gets up. He gets knocked down, no call, gets back up, demeanor the same, attacks the next time. You cant say enough about that type of attitude.

WATCH: Thibodeau thinks Deng having All-Star season

Added Boozer: We take our hat off to him. I told him as soon as the game was over, Way to gut through it for us. He had a great floor game 12 assists, two turnovers great point guards do that. Im proud of him.

As Rose got his legs under him and fresh legs off the bench primarily in the form of Ronnie Brewer (nine points, six rebounds) and Taj Gibson (seven points, five rebounds), both of whom made immediate impacts gave the Bulls a boost, they overtook Orlando late in the opening period, ending the first quarter with a 24-23 lead.

All week, we just worked hard. Coach has been pushing me on my post moves. When I came in, we just played with a lot of energy, said Gibson. Bench guys, we just come in and attack. Were real defensive-oriented.

The game remained close-knit through the midway point of the second frame, as both teams second units effectively canceled each other out. Gibson and Brewer continued to provide energy for Chicago and while Boozer (16 points, 16 rebounds, four assists) eventually found his groove, his Orlando counterpart, Brandon Bass, along with reserves Ryan Anderson and talented Gilbert Arenas, held down the fort for the Magic. For Chicago, Brewer, in particular, stood out with his finishing around the rim and rebounding from the wing.

Going into the game, you look at their roster youve got Gilbert Arenas coming off the bench, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson they contribute a lot for them. They really get them going when they make those subs, so we wanted to match their intensity and take it up a notch. Weve got guys who step in and play big for us, night in and night out C.J., Kyle, myself, Taj, Omer so we just try to go out there and play hard, Brewer told CSNChicago.com.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau opted to guard Howard (40 points, 15 rebounds, three blocked shots) one-on-one, focusing instead on Orlandos legion of sharpshooters. However, a small-ball Chicago lineup featuring Boozer guarding the massive center individually didnt pay off, as the massive Orlando center led the visitors to a 51-46 halftime advantage.

We did a great job of getting them off that three-point line. Theyre a great three-point shooting team. Obviously when theyve got that monster, he gets a lot of attention and he kicks it out most times. We didnt want him to have 40, but we didnt want to double him either, so we played him single coverage, said Boozer. The great thing about it, we did a great job on their three-point shooters, we did a great job rebounding.

At the end of the day, the three is more dangerous than the two. You werent trying to give him 40 points. You dont want to give anyone 40 points. But hes the best center in the NBA. If you play him one-on-one, hes going to get some buckets and tonight, he was also hitting his free throws, he continued. We knew over the course the game, it was going to work out. We believe in Coach Thibs and his system and we followed it to a T and it worked.

A clearly frustrated Howard offered his thoughts on the strategy after the game.

I dont know if it was effective. I got their bigs in foul trouble. I hope they do it again, opined Howard. On offense, we didnt do anything. We didnt move the ball. We came down, one shot. One pass, shot. We cant win that way.

The Bulls are an improved team. Theyre very good, but it was just too easy for them, he continued. We cant be a championship-contender team playing defense like we did tonight.

After intermission, Deng (26 points, eight rebounds) joined the party for the Bulls, reeling off 11 points in the third quarters first three minutes and change, and playing with a much greater sense of urgency on both ends of the floor after contributing just two points in the first half.

I had two shots in the first half and one of them was a three that I didnt really think was a great shot I just tried to get myself going but I didnt really feel that I was missing shots, explained Deng. When I came out in the third quarter, I took my regular shots. We rested the last two days and I had good legs, so I used that energy.

Having those days off, we could come out and not be in a rhythm, but I thought Coach did a good job of keeping us active in practice, getting up a lot of shots and coming out tonight, playing the way we did, he continued.

Added Boozer: Luol got us going. That whole third quarter, he was on fire. We just kept finding the hot hand.

The opposing coaches had differing viewpoints on Dengs performance.

You cant say enough about Luol, lauded Thibodeau. In my opinion, hes had an All-Star season in the first half. Hes done everything for our team."

Countered Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy: He Deng dominated the second half. We didnt guard him at all.

Additionally, Boozers blend of mid-range jumpers and low-post scoring was clicking, but perhaps more importantly, Thibodeau employed rookie backup center Omer Asik to guard Howard, which was somewhat successful. Asik didnt shut down Howard, but his length and size at least allowed the Bulls to respectably guard the All-Star one-on-one.

He turns every time to his right-hand hook shot. The coaches told me before the game, when he gets the ball, just close out to his left shoulder, Asik explained to CSNChicago.com. I tried to do that. I did it good sometimes; I did it bad sometimes.

The Bulls, in general, ramped up their intensity after the break, using stout defensive play to turn the tables on Orlando and build a double-digit cushion over the visitors, sending the United Center crowd into a mild state of ecstasy during an extended 20-5 run, prompting Van Gundy to halt the bleeding with a timeout.

Rose, while clearly not 100 percent he occasionally squatted or clutched his stomach during dead balls and an accidental blow to the face from former Bulls point guard Chris Duhon didnt help but his scoring presence and playmaking ability at less than full strength were more than enough to help the Bulls take a 80-68 lead into the fourth quarter.

This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed, said Rose afterwards. Mind over matter. I think about some of the old players. When they played, they had injuries that were worse than mine and they still fought through. I look at myself as an old-school type player and when I think back to those days, that really gets me through hard practices or hard games.

It feels like youve got a sword on your knee or something and every single time you get in the shower or water touches it, that burning sensation, because its open. So, every time I swallow, every time I eat something, you can feel it. Its sore, he continued. Going to the hole, I was hoping not to get hit in my stomach. There were a couple times I got hit, but if anything, I was trying not to lose my breath.

As the games stretch run approached, the Magic couldnt put more than a mild scare into the Bulls, as Arenas with starting point guard Jameer Nelson taking an early exit with a sore right knee, the enigmatic midseason acquisition became the teams primary ballhandler struggled with the dual responsibilities of defending Rose and running Orlandos offense effectively.

Howard continued to be a force, but the Magic couldnt quite get over the hump an Arenas transition layup with 1:28 to make it 93-90 was as close as theyd get as Deng made plays on both ends and Rose hit clutch free throws to seal the deal, fittingly serenaded by chants of M-V-P.

I hope my play says that, the way that I play. Of course, everybody wants to say that, but I hope you see the way that Im playing that Im one of the elite players in the NBA, said Rose. Its a lot of hard work, but if it wasnt for my teammates, I wouldnt be in this position.

Deng spoke of the significance of beating one of their conference rivals.

Big win. Its one of the teams in the Eastern Conference that everyone kind of looks up to and they beat us up pretty good the last time we played them, so we did a good job tonight, he said. The Bostons, Orlandos, Miamis, when we go out and beat those teams, I think we send a message out there that weve got a good team.

Concurred Gibson: This game was kind of a statement game because we know were going to see them in the future and the way they beat us last game, we didnt like that.

We had a lot of motivation. When we watched the film, we didnt look like our normal Chicago team, he went on to say. We rebound the ball well and play defense, and we didnt do any of those things the last game, so we just wanted to make a statement and play hard.

Boozer, with the experience of several playoff runs in Utah, took a different tact.

Its still January. Its not April, he remarked. Were not heading into the playoffs. Were not even at the All-Star break yet.

Perhaps, but it was the type of feel-good victory especially given the circumstances of the teams last meeting that at least provides inspiration down the line. Still, at the games conclusion, thoughts didnt waver far from Roses situation.

If tonight, I cant breathe or cant eat right or Im having stomach problems, Ill definitely let them the Bulls medical staff know, said Rose of his status for Saturdays back-to-back home game against the Indiana Pacers. But other than that, Im playing.

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.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Celtics trade for Jimmy Butler?

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Celtics trade for Jimmy Butler?

On the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Kevin Anderson, Vincent Goodwill and Kendall Gill welcome in SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell to discuss the Celtics' motivation to trade for Jimmy Butler. 

The guys also break down whether the league is undervaluing the Bulls All-Star. 

Later, they debate the contant Lebron James vs. Michael Jordan comparison and ask if it's fair after the King's poor showing in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. O'Donnell also analyzes the NBA Draft. He believes Terrance Ferguson is the right pick for GarPax. 

Finally, a behind the scenes look at Goodwill vs. Kendall on the court, and Kendall on the right way to parent a young athlete. 

Listen to the Bulls Talk Podcast below. 

NBA Buzz: Financial and competitive realities could lead to Jimmy Butler trade for Bulls

NBA Buzz: Financial and competitive realities could lead to Jimmy Butler trade for Bulls

Watching LeBron James tear through the Eastern Conference playoffs the way Michael Jordan used to do in his prime, it's become increasingly apparent other teams in the East will be chasing James and the Cavaliers for the next 3-5 years.

With that in mind, you have to wonder what kind of conversations are going on inside the walls of the Advocate Center as the Bulls' front office prepares for the June 22nd draft and the start of free agency on July 1st. 

Jimmy Butler earned third-team All-NBA honors on Thursday, putting him in position to earn the Designated Veteran Player Extension with another All-NBA selection in either 2018 or 2019. Under terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, that could mean a contract starting at $42 million in 2019-20 with a total five-year value of over $246 million.

Are the Bulls prepared to pay that kind of money to a player who has logged big minutes over his career and will turn 30 just before the 2019-20 season?

If not, the best time to deal Butler would be right now. Butler is coming off the best season of his NBA career, including a starting spot for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game. Plus, he still has two more guaranteed years on his contract at far below market value for one of the top 15 players in the league.

Tuesday's draft lottery pretty much eliminated Boston from a potential Butler trade. Celtics' GM Danny Ainge loves Washington point guard Markelle Fultz and is locked in to drafting him with the number one pick. Boston's future couldn't look brighter after finishing with the best regular season record in the East, advancing to the Conference Finals, and winning the lottery.

The Celtics will add Fultz and still have enough cap room to offer a max deal to free agent swingman Gordon Hayward, who played collegiately for Boston coach Brad Stevens at Butler. How does a starting line-up of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Hayward, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley sound, with a second unit of Fultz, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Kelly Olynyk? It might not be good enough to take down the Cavs or Warriors, but should position the Celtics for a long run as a serious contender.

So, if the Celtics are out, where would the Bulls look for a possible Butler deal? Phoenix probably holds the best combination of assets, starting with the No. 4 overall pick. If point guards Fultz, Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox go 1-2-3, the Bulls could grab Kansas forward Josh Jackson, an Andrew Wiggins-clone who could wind up being the best player in this draft.

The Suns also have a pair of intriguing young power forwards in Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, both top 10 picks a year ago. Plus, Phoenix could include 23-year-old small forward T.J. Warren and Chicago native Tyler Ulis in the package going back to the Bulls.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough is reportedly under pressure to show significant improvement next season after winning just 47 games combined over the last two years. Adding another young player to the roster isn't the best way to improve the team immediately, so don't be surprised if the Suns make a pitch to acquire Butler in the days leading up to the draft.

Similar story in Philadelphia, where the Sixers own the third overall pick next month. Under former GM Sam Hinkie, the "trust the process" approach led to a roster purge and the acquisition of lottery picks. Right now, the Sixers are overloaded with young players like Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Justin Anderson and Nik Stauskas.

Would current GM Bryan Colangelo be willing to trade the pick, along with Okafor and Anderson in a package for Butler? The Bulls could choose between Jackson and Kentucky's lightning-quick point guard Fox with the draft pick they’d acquire, potentially adding three young starters to a new-look line-up. 

Given all the trade rumors surrounding Butler in the past, you can expect a number of teams will be calling the Bulls leading up to the draft, including Tom Thibodeau's Timberwolves, coming off a disappointing season with assets to offer like Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh overall pick. 

Ultimately, it comes down to which direction the Bulls' front office wants to go. Try to build a contender around Butler, or use him as the trade asset to start a full re-build. We should get our answer in the days leading up to the draft.

Around the Association

Thursday's All-NBA announcement could lead to a pair of All-Star forwards changing teams this summer. We already mentioned Hayward's situation in Utah. Without the designated veteran player extension, he might be seriously tempted to join his old college coach in Boston. 

Hayward could sign a one year contract with a player option for a second season in Utah with hopes of earning the DVPE next summer, but if Hayward hits the open market, it's clear he'll be the number one target for the Celtics this off-season. 

Paul George also could be in play after failing to make one of the three All-NBA teams. The Pacers were hoping to sign their All-Star forward to a max five-year extension at over $200 million, but George isn't eligible now. George still could sign an extension with Indiana, but not at the dollars he would have received had he made All-NBA. 

Rumors of George's desire to join his home-state Lakers in free agency after the 2017-18 season continue to grow, especially with Magic Johnson likely to add dynamic point guard Lonzo Ball in next month's draft. The Pacers might be forced to trade George to get some assets now, rather than let him walk away for nothing in free agency next summer.

Back to the Bulls, who will bring in dozens of prospects to Chicago to work out at the Advocate Center before the draft. Unless they make a major trade to move up, the front office almost has to go "best player available" with their picks at Nos. 16 and 38. Look for them to focus on an athletic wing in the first round with Louisville's Donovan Mitchell, Indiana's OG Anunoby, Duke's Harry Giles and Australian pro Terrance Ferguson among the likely options. 

But if the team decides to part company with restricted free agent Niko Mirotic, that could open the door for the Bulls to select a power forward like Cal's Ivan Rabb, Wake Forest's John Collins, Utah's Kyle Kuzma or UCLA's T.J. Leaf. They could even draft an athletic young center like Jarrett Allen of Texas, Creighton's Justin Patton or UCLA's Ike Anigbogu.

In Round 2, the Bulls might look to add another young point guard to the mix like Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans, Iowa State's Monte Morris, Villanova's Josh Hart, Gonzaga's Nigel Williams Goss or Big 12 Player of the Year Frank Mason from Kansas.

Quotes of the Week

The Celtics might have edged Cleveland out for the top seed in the East during the regular season, but after watching Game 1 Wednesday night, it's clear Brad Stevens’ team will be lucky to get a win in the series.

This from Stevens about the NBA's version of Benjamin Button, LeBron James. "It's hard to believe, but he's better than when I got into the league. A lot better."

Still, Celtics' star Isaiah Thomas isn't about to concede the series just yet, saying, "We're not afraid of Cleveland. They're not the Monstars."  

Well, Thomas might be right about the rest of the Cavs. But if you remember the movie "Space Jam", I'm pretty sure James would be a good fit in that Monstars line-up. And the Celtics don't have Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny or Bill Murray!