Rose's return fit for a King, gives Bulls winning trip


Rose's return fit for a King, gives Bulls winning trip

Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010
Updated 2:25 AM
By Aggrey Sam

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Through the middle of the third quarter, it seemed as if the Bulls' positives strides on their current seven-game road trip were all for naught.

Then, the determination witnessed on the treacherous stretch kicked in, and buoyed by the return of Derrick Rose to the lineup, Chicago (9-6) utilized a sustained fourth-quarter run to get out of town with a 96-85 victory over the Kings (4-11).

Rose (30 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) returned to the lineup and picked off where he left off, making the game's first basket, as well as his next four shots.

"When I saw him walking around, he looked a lot better today. When I saw him walking around, he said he felt a lot better," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau about his star point guard, who was a game-time decision after sitting out Friday's buzzer-beater loss to Denver with a sore neck. "After he warmed up, I asked him again. He said he felt great, so I wasn't really concerned about it."

"I thought we were tired. Derrick really helped us a lot -- he had fresh legs -- he helped us a lot in the first half," added teammate Luol Deng. "I think Derrick is the best point guard in the league right now, as long as he just keeps playing like this. He carries us a lot and he's making a lot of us better."

Against the lowly Kings, it seemed as if the Bulls -- injury-riddled or not -- could cruise to an easy victory to close out their arduous road trip. However, Sacramento point guard Tyreke Evans (17 points, nine assists, six rebounds) -- Rose's fellow Rookie of the Year and successor at the University of Memphis -- had different ideas, matching his counterpart's effort with his own personal scoring binge to give the home team a slim winning margin.

Evans' smooth drives to the basket and transition scoring ability got a young Sacramento squad going, giving the sparse Arco Arena crowd something to cheer about. With momentum clearly working against them, Chicago trailed, 28-21, after a quarter of action, mostly by virtue of the Kings' aggressive play and inadequate Bulls defense.

Reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer (eight points, 10 rebounds, three assists) keyed a Bulls' second-quarter push with his aggressiveness and playmaking, capably aided by Joakim Noah's (17 points, eight rebounds, five assists) always-energetic interior play.

"I think he's in really good shape right now and the first half, he was the only one really on the board," Thibodeau said of Brewer. "They were knocking a lot of balls out of our hands and some stuff like that, but Ronnie, he was rebounding in traffic and his energy was real good. I wanted to get him quickly in the second half to get that energy back in the game.

"We have a number of players who have started a number of games in this league, so you know if you're down a guy or a guy gets into foul trouble, that whoever is going in is capable of playing well and I think it's been proven throughout the year so far."

Sloppy turnovers, however, led to the Kings countering their guests with easy fast-break opportunities, resulting in the home team maintaining their slight cushion and even extending it, despite Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau reinserting his regulars.

Behind the likes of frontcourt youngsters Jason Thompson (18 points, nine rebounds), Donte Greene (13 points, seven rebounds) and Omri Casspi -- as well as Evans in the backcourt and veteran center Samuel Dalembert (12 points, six rebounds) -- the Kings simply outworked Chicago, leading to a the visitors facing a 57-44 halftime disadvantage.

After intermission, the Bulls attempted to chip away at the double-digit deficit, but Sacramento's persistent energy and ability to get high-percentage looks made that task nearly impossible. In the midst of trying to build an identity as a defensive-oriented team, Chicago appeared to be taking a step back in that department, possibly due to tired legs from the long road swing.

In their typical fashion, the Bulls would make an inevitable run, using a quicker lineup and an increased tempo to decrease the gap against their inferior opponents, although Thompson and Dalembert, in particular, continued to play well for the Kings. The opportunistic Bulls, seemingly over the lethargy that plagued them through the first half, trailed, 76-69, after three quarters.

Chicago's charge resumed at the start of the final stanza, with Deng (22 points, nine rebounds, four assists) leading the way offensively and a much-improved defensive effort (the Bulls forced multiple 24-second violations) leaving Sacramento stymied.

An emphatic Noah dunk off a nifty spinning post move -- part of 7-0 run to start the quarter -- tied the game, and the atmosphere in the arena was noticeably different.

"In the first half, it was hard to really judge anything we were doing defensively because the intensity wasn't there and our technique wasn't there. In the second half, once the intensity picked up and the technique picked up, it was better," said Thibodeau. "I didn't think our pressure was good enough in the first half -- in the second half, our pressure was much better and Derrick was tremendous. I thought Ronnie Brewer played with great energy. I thought that was a big lift and then Luol got going a little bit in the second half."

The Bulls' lead was short-lived, as the Kings refused to relent, perhaps smelling a rare victory on the young season was in their grasp. The game developed into a chippy, tightly-knit affair with hard fouls galore on both ends of the court.

More experienced in those situations, the Bulls began coming up with a knack for making the majority of the contest's pivotal plays -- grabbing loose balls, taking charges, hitting free throws -- down the stretch, with usual suspects Rose and Noah contributing heavily.

Rose's razor-sharp ballhandling allowed him to get into the lane and score with ease, while Noah's grit, defensive presence and finishing ability made an equally significant impact.

"Noah's never gassed. He played tough. He played a lot of minutes and the breakaway -- normally, that's a dunk -- but I thought his defense in the second half was tremendous," Thibodeau remarked about the charismatic center. "Multiple effort -- he was everywhere, he's challenging at the rim, he made it hard and -- that's what we need from him every night."

Brewer's first-half success carried over, as the offseason acquisition showed an increased comfort level in creating opportunities for himself and others, and Deng's timely scoring only helped the Bulls widen the gap between themselves and the young Kings.

The tables had turned, and what had been a nip-and-tuck battle turned into a comfortable Bulls lead going away as Sacramento derailed down the stretch to go 4-3 on the circus trip -- the first winning record on the annual road swing since the 1997-98 season, the last year of the Bulls championship dynasty.

Aggrey Sam is'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.

Over-under: Analyzing Bulls' player propositions for 2016-17

Over-under: Analyzing Bulls' player propositions for 2016-17

Last week Bovada released a handful of Bulls player proposition over-unders. Here's a look at 10 of those numbers, with predicitions on which players will reach those thresholds in 2016-17.


Team wins: 38.5 (Last year: 42)

The pick: Fred Hoiberg had a pretty tumultuous first season in Chicago, the Bulls’ starting backcourt missed 31 games and Joakim Noah fizzled out before a season-ending injury. And yet the Bulls still managed 42 wins. How the Three Alphas and a lack of outside shooting fit Hoiberg’s style remains to be seen, and while the playoffs may not happen in an improving Eastern Conference, at least 39 wins should be manageable. OVER (40)

Jimmy Butler

Points per game: 20.5 (Last year: 20.9)

The pick: There’s a chance Dwyane Wade’s arrival will cut into Butler’s FGA (15.4) and FTA (7.1). There’s also a chance that the 27-year-old All-Star continues to improve once again in his sixth NBA season. Having a true facilitator in Rajon Rondo should really benefit him, the way Rondo did for DeMarcus Cousins (who improved by 2.5 points per game with Rondo). Everyone at the Advocate Center says the Bulls are Jimmy Butler’s team. His scoring will reflect that. OVER (21.7)

Rebounds per game: 5.5 (Last year: 5.3)

The pick: Whereas Butler may not see his scoring and usage decrease, the Bulls’ offseason moves to get Rondo and Wade give them two of the league’s best rebounding guards. Only Russell Westbrook averaged more rebounds per game among point guards than Rondo’s 6.0 average, and Wade has averaged four or more rebounds in all but one of his 13 NBA seasons. This one’s more of a toss-up, but with Rondo and Wade in the fold Butler may take a small hit on the glass. UNDER (4.8)

Dwyane Wade

Points per game: 17.0 (Last year: 19.0)

The pick: The future Hall of Famer is destined to drop off at some point, soon to be 35 with nearly 37,000 career minutes played. But 17.0 points per game would be the lowest mark of his career since his rookie season in Miami (16.2) and the Bulls don’t have a plethora of scoring options outside of Butler. It may not look pretty, and it may not be efficient, but Wade should flirt near the 19.0 points per game he averaged in his final season with the Heat. OVER (18.5)

Games played: 67.5 (Last year: 74)

The pick: This one’s tricky. On one hand it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wade miss some time this season. He defied the odds in playing 74 games last season – it was the most games he had played since 2011 – and most likely won’t get there in 2016-17. On the other hand, the Bulls may be fighting for their playoff lives down the stretch and may need Wade to play a few extra games in April. Still, Wade played 62 and 54 games the last two years before 2016. He’ll be closer to that than 74. UNDER (65)

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Rajon Rondo

Points per game: 11.0 (Last year: 11.9)

The pick: Rondo averaged the third most FGA per game for the Kings last year, trailing DeMarcus Cousins (20.5) and Rudy Gay (14.4). And while he’ll play enough minutes to hover around the 10.9 field goal attempts he averaged in 2015-16, there are more playmakers around him that he won’t be asked to shoot as much with the Bulls. His point totals were also helped out by the 36.5 percent he shot from deep, and that likely will take a hit this season. UNDER (9.5)

Assists per game: 10.5 (Last year: 11.7)

The pick: Another tricky one here, as Rondo is clearly going to be the one initiating offense. But he also will be playing alongside two players in Wade and Butler who need the ball in their hands to be successful, and who are also above-average passers in the their own respective rights. Still, Rondo has topped 11 assists per game in four of the last six seasons, and there are enough scorers around him for him to get there again this season. OVER (11.5)

Nikola Mirotic

Points per game: 13.0 (Last year: 11.8)

The pick: The fate of the Bulls’ playoff hopes may rest on this number. Mirotic should get the first stab at winning the power forward position, and playing alongside the Three Alphas is going to open up plenty of looks for him. His field goal attempts per game may go down, but his efficiency should improve playing with three guards who can create space and make defenses rotate. This one will be close, but Mirotic should bump his average up over this mark as the lone outside threat in the starting lineup. OVER (13.8)

Robin Lopez

Rebounds per game: 8.0 (Last year: 7.3)

The pick: This one may be the easiest of the bunch. Assuming Taj Gibson remains on the second unit, Lopez is going to rack up the boards playing the majority of his minutes next to Mirotic. All three starting guards can rebound, but Lopez is going to get the opportunities early and often. With only Cristiano Felicio behind him, Lopez should enjoy a career year on the glass, surpassing the 8.5 rebounds per game he averaged for the Blazers in 2014. OVER (9.0)

Taj Gibson

Points per game: 8.5 (Last year: 8.6)

The pick: The contract year phenomenon is real. Gibson is in the final year of his contract and had a fantastic preseason, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds. He won’t reach those numbers in the regular season, but it would be a shock if he didn’t improve on his numbers from a year ago. He shot a career-best 52.6 percent from the field under Fred Hoiberg, and he could easily get back to double-digit points per game, which he did in his final two years under Tom Thibodeau. Believe in the contract year. OVER (12.5)

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf cheering for Cubs in World Series: 'Cubs fans have suffered enough'

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf cheering for Cubs in World Series: 'Cubs fans have suffered enough'

The White Sox took to Twitter on Saturday night to congratulate their crosstown rivals on earning their first World Series berth since 1945.

Two days later Jerry Reinsdorf took it a step farther.

The White Sox owner told Chicago Sun-Times' Michael Sneed that he'll be rooting for the Cubs when they begin their series against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.

"I think it would be great for Chicago if the Cubs won!

"Cubs fans have suffered enough. They deserve to have a winner. It would be great for the city.

"My White Sox fans won't be happy with me saying this. They'll think I'm a traitor. But that's how I feel."

Reinsdorf may have felt different had his White Sox not hoisted the World Series trophy in 2005. But he understands how Cubs fans feel; when the South Siders won the 2005 World Series it ended an 87-year drought. That was the second longest drought in MLB history, behind only the Cubs and their current 107-year streak.

Perhaps the fact that the Cubs are playing a White Sox AL Central rival in the Indians helps matters.

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Either way, Reinsdorf is hoping to see the Cubbies bring home the title for the first time since 1908.

"I have never been a Cubs fan," Reinsdorf said. "But I really do wish them well."