Chicago Bulls

Rose's 42 can't prevent Bulls 'step backwards'

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Rose's 42 can't prevent Bulls 'step backwards'

Friday, March 18, 2011
Posted 9:24 p.m. Updated 10:57 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS All good things must come to an end, as the Bulls (49-19) learned Friday night, following a 115-108 overtime loss to the Pacers (30-39) at Conseco Fieldhouse, ending their eight-game winning streak.

Despite an improbable comeback, led by Derrick Roses MVP-solidifying and career-high-tying 42-point performance, Chicago lost its first contest to Central Division competition this season.

You usually get what you deserve, a melancholy Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau stated cryptically. This is a step backwards.

Rose, who used a career-high 18-for-21 free-throw outing to get the Bulls back into the game in the fourth after the Pacers turned back repeated Chicago comeback attempts, blamed himself for the loss.

WATCH: Rose takes loss hard

All you can do is learn from it, said the downcast All-Star point guard, who capped a 19-point individual fourth quarter with three clutch foul shots after being fouled on a last gasp, long-range attempt with 1.2 seconds left to tie the game at 102-all, sending it into overtime. Next time, I should do something different to change the game.

Thats the time where Im supposed to take over and I didnt show up, Rose continued, referring to the extra session, in which the Pacers reeled off the first seven points and he eventually fouled out. Thats a team that we could possibly see in the playoffs and I cant wait to see them again.

Chicago still the top team in the Eastern Conference after Boston also lost Friday night made its mark this season with an aggressive brand of basketball with a heavy emphasis on rebounding and defense. Both areas were dominated by the Pacers for much of the contest.

They just came out with a lot more energy than us to start the game. They were aggressive, said Luol Deng, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds on the evening. We played hard, we fought back, but we could have definitely played smarter. Weve just got to move on to the next game.

They outrebounded us. they were just more aggressive, more physical than us. in the second half, we started to be more physical. If we would have done that in the first half, we would have been fine. Just a slow start.

A disappointed Thibodeau concurred: We shouldnt have been surprised. Thats who they are, thats what they do.

Youve got to get in the fray. Youve got to make contact, then youve got to fight and we didnt do that until late," said the coach. When you wait around, now all of a sudden, youre in a hole. So youre fighting your way out of a hole and then you dont have enough energy to finish it off in the end. Thats exactly what happened.

Propelled by the post duo of Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert, Indiana jumped out to an early lead and didnt look back scoring 31 points in the opening period by going inside typically an unwise strategy against the Bulls legion of solid post defenders and continued to go back to the well early and often.

Rose provided much of the Bulls offense in the first quarter and while center Joakim Noah ably assisted him, he admitted that his trademark energetic play and tenacious rebounding werent as impactful as usual.

It just shows you that if you dont come with the right mindset to start the game Im talking about for me, personally Ive got to do a better job, said Noah, who missed the Bulls home win Tuesday over Washington with flu-like symptoms and still appears to be under the weather. Ive been playing with low energy.

I just feel like individually, Ive got to step it up, play with a little bit more juice.

Thibodeau opted to pair veteran Kurt Thomas starting in place of Carlos Boozer, who missed his fifth consecutive game with a sprained left ankle with Taj Gibson, who corralled a game-high 16 rebounds, for much of the contest, including the teams fourth-quarter comeback.

It was definitely physical out there. Thats what Im used to. I like to play that kind of game, it was a lot fun, but we came up a little short, Thomas, whose hard screens and veteran savvy Thomas noticed, when the game officials didnt, that Indiana tried to avoid sending woeful free-throw shooter and veteran counterpart Jeff Foster to the line after he was fouled certainly kept Indiana on its toes, recounted to CSNChicago.com.

Gibson told CSNChicago.com: It was just a tough game. Normally, were the aggressor, hit teams in the mouth and set the tone, but tonight, they set the tone early on us. its kind of hard to slow down a hot team.

As the game went on, we were able to get some crucial stops, Derrick made some tough plays. We just couldnt close it out in overtime.

According to Thibodeau, Gibson was the only member of the Bulls usually-reliable second unit to come up with a consistent performance all evening.

Taj had really good energy off the bench, said the first-year NBA head coach, regarded as a favorite for the league Coach of the Year award. He was the only one off the bench that gave us a spark. We were flat.

The contest was extremely physical throughout and while the Bulls made it a more competitive game in the third quarter, foul trouble and inconsistent officiating, on both ends was an issue, as Rose was forced to hit the pine with four fouls.

I dont get that many fouls in games. I could go a whole game without getting a foul, reasoned Rose afterwards. I was just telling them the referees to make sure they look at the tape with some of those fouls. Thats all I said.

Adding to Chicagos woes was a preponderance of long-distance attempts, a recent trend for the normally conservative, inside-oriented offensive squad, but one Thibodeau found disconcerting, as well as a surprising game-long disadvantage on the glass.

They got 23 second-chance points. Thats probably the difference in the game right there. We came out, we settled, they were attacking us, we were back on their heels, he explained. Theyre a physical team, they killed us on the boards to start the game and then we never adjusted. Weve got to get the ball moving. The balls not moving, were settling for quick threes. Wrong shots.

Thats fools gold.

It seemed as if the visitors wouldnt be able break through in the final period of regulation, but Rose - the consensus favorite for league MVP honors - put on a show worthy of the hype hes been afforded, relentlessly willing his way to the basket and either finishing at the rim, getting to the line, or both.

I was just trying to do anything to get my team the win and at the time, it was me putting pressure on their defense, stated the ever-straightforward 22-year-old. Thats with me attacking.

Chimed in Deng: Derrick was great. It was one of those games where they couldnt stop him. He kept going to the hole, he kept getting to the line and he got us back in the game, and made the huge free throws to get it to overtime.

We always play hard as a team, no matter if were down 20, 30, he continued. Derrick is always going to make great plays. He led us to a comeback today.

Roses aforementioned heroics put the game into overtime, but after the Pacers reeled off the first seven points of the extra session and the All-Star point guard subsequently fouled out, it was clear the Bulls had run out of gas.

The only quarter we played defense was the fourth, said Thibodeau, unimpressed with his stars effort, as he was more focused on the teams overall showing. We should be able to count on our defense and our rebounding every night, and when we dont and we dont defend, were not very good.

Acknowledging that the Pacers could be first-round foes next month made the loss doubly hard for Rose, whose body displayed scratches all over as he conducted interviews in the Conseco Fieldhouse visiting locker room.

Im beat up, but thats basketball. Im fresh. I was out there playing my hardest, giving my all, but physically, I feel fine, he said. When you lose, it hurts the same, unless youre in the championship game thats when I think it hurts worse but all these games, when you get to the playoffs, its going to hurt bad if you lose.

We definitely have their attention, have everybodys attention. We started the game off bad, gave them confidence, sluggish and you cant do that against teams like this, Rose continued. Our biggest thing is playing with an edge and being aggressive, and we didnt do that this game. And its because of me.

Although he took it just as hard personally, Noah put the defeat in perspective.

Theyre fighting for their lives, trying to make the playoffs, said Noah, remembering the Bulls plight the previous two seasons. Losing always sucks because you look back and you feel like theres a lot of things we could have done better.

Weve got to move on from it quickly because were playing for big things.

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.

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

2018 draft class is loaded at the top

Quietly, you can bet Bulls' front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman had a little celebration after hearing that prep star Marvin Bagley III was going to graduate from high school early and enroll at Duke for the 2017-18 season, making him eligible for the 2018 draft.

Bagley, a 6'11 power forward from Los Angeles, is being compared to longtime NBA star Chris Bosh, right down to his smooth left-handed shooting touch. Bagley averaged 24.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and two blocked shots during his junior season for Sierra Canyon H.S. He's also fared well against NBA competition at the highly-regarded Drew League in L.A. this summer. Bagley’s physical tools are off the charts, and you can count on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski preparing him well for life in the NBA.

Most NBA scouts and execs expect the No. 1 overall pick to come down to either Bagley or Michael Porter Jr., who will play his one season of college basketball at Missouri. The 6'10 Porter averaged an amazing 34.8 points and 13.8 rebounds last season against Seattle high school competition. He's considered a more dynamic scorer than Bagley with more range on his jump shot. Some scouts believe he could quickly develop into one of the league's elite players with Kevin Durant-type length and shooting ability at the small forward position.

International swingman Luka Doncic is also highly coveted by NBA teams. The 6'8 swingman has excellent shooting range, and is also capable of creating his own shot with outstanding ball-handling ability. Forget the stereotype of European players being mechanical and unable to compete athletically, Doncic is capable of being an 18-20 point scorer in the NBA and should go in the top five next June. He's considered one of the best international prospects in the last decade.

Two 7-footers also will hear their names called early on draft night 2018. University of Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton averaged 19.8 points and 12 rebounds in high school last season, while Texas freshman center Mohamed Bomba has an incredible 7-foot-9 wingspan. Sure, the NBA has moved away from the traditional low post center, but teams are still looking to acquire agile big men like Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. Depending on how they fare against top level college competition, Ayton and Bomba could round out the top five.

Other names to watch in the lottery portion of next year's draft include Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams, Michigan State's forward duo of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., and the latest one-and-dones from John Calipari's Kentucky program, center Nick Richards and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

In case you missed it, ESPN released its preseason win total expectations for the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, and the Bulls were dead last with a projected record of 26-56. Now, I'm not sure a team with veterans Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez and the three young players acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota will be quite that bad, but if you're going to rebuild, the idea is to get the best draft pick possible, and the Bulls appear to be on course for a top-five selection depending on how the lottery falls.

If the Bulls are able to land an elite talent like Porter Jr., Bagley III or Doncic in the draft, then use their $40-50 million in cap space to land a couple of quality free agents, the rebuild might not be as painful as some fans are fearing.

Last dance for LeBron in Cleveland?

Well-connected NBA writer Chris Sheridan dropped this bomb on Twitter Wednesday, quoting an NBA source, "This will be LeBron's final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair." Don’t forget, Sheridan was the first national writer to report James was going to leave Miami to go back to Cleveland in 2014, so his reports definitely warrant a little extra attention.

Okay, we've already heard countless rumors about James planning to join the Lakers after next season. He's built a mansion in Brentwood, is close with Magic Johnson and will be able to bring another superstar with him to L.A. like Paul George or Russell Westbrook. Plus, the Lakers have a number of talented young players in place like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. and a promising coach in Luke Walton.

Add in the likelihood Kyrie Irving will be traded before training camp opens and LeBron's long-standing poor relationship with Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert, and you have the perfect formula for another James' free agent decision next July. Although, I'm not sure why LeBron would want to go West, where Golden State is positioned to dominate the league for another five seasons, with strong challengers like the Rockets and Spurs still in place. 

But if we've learned anything from watching James over the years, he's clearly a man who wants to align the odds in his favor. So don't rule out anything when it comes to James' free agent decision. If the Cavs make a home run trade for Irving, maybe LeBron decided to plays out his career in his home state. If not, look for him to find a team with the cap space to bring in another top star to run with him.

Back in 2010, the Bulls carved out the cap space to add two max contract stars, but lost out to Pat Riley in Miami. This time around they won't be on James' July travel itinerary.

One thing we know for sure. Where LeBron plays in 2018 will be the number one story throughout the NBA season.

Report: Bulls expected to reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Report: Bulls expected to reach buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade's homecoming may not last much longer. 

According to Nick Friedell's ESPN report, the Bulls are expected to reach a buyout agreement with the 12-time NBA All-Star "at some point in the next few months." 

The news comes two months after Wade picked up his player option, choosing $24 million over earning less on a more competitive team. 

If Gar Forman and John Paxson indeed decide to buy D-Wade out, the "Three Alphas," which consisted of Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, would all be out just one season after coming together. 

The buyout may also mean more ping-pong balls in next year's stacked draft