Chicago Bulls

Vengeful Bulls crush Knicks, share best record

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Vengeful Bulls crush Knicks, share best record

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Posted: 9:49 p.m. Updated: 11:25 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
NEW YORK Vengeance is the Bulls, after Tuesday evenings 103-90 thrashing of the Knicks in Madison Square Garden . The win gave Chicago a victory over every team in the NBA this season. A 26-2 run to start the second half blew away New York in a game that featured a series of highlight-reel dunks from Derrick Rose and returns to the Bulls ownership of the backboardsled by Carlos Boozers yeomans effortand Joakim Noahs high-activity level, respectively.

New York s run-and-gun, freewheeling style of play set the tone from the games outset, with new Knicks Carmelo Anthony (21 points) and Chauncey Billups (10 points, eight assists) the prime beneficiary and benefactors early. Mike DAntonis team spread the floor on its' guests and looked to push the tempo, resulting in the Bulls having to stay on their toes defensively, especially in transition.
Watch: Thibodeau on defending Anthony and Billups

With Billups and Anthony, it puts a lot of pressure on your defenseyou have to have clean pick-and-roll coveragesand then the way they shoot the three, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. If you dont have a multiple-effort mentality against them, youre going to give up open looks at the three-point line, and if they start making, it could be a long night for you.

With All-Star power forward Amare Stoudemire out of the Knicks lineup, Thibodeau looked to Boozer (14 points, 22 rebounds) to use his blend of bulk and skill to score in the low post, and he responded with an eight-point, nine rebound quarter.

Thats the way that he plays. If it wasnt for some bunnies missed layups, he would have had 30 points tonight, said Rose. We were just trying to work inside-out.

Added Thibodeau: His rebounding was off the charts.

He and Derrick are doing a great job with that, he continued. Derrick making the play to Carlos, and then Carlos making the simple play to get us the open shot.

His partner inside, Noah (13 points), made a solid initial showing in his hometown, playing with the gusto and underrated skill that made him so effective when healthy.

Still, although Rose (26 points) put his MVP-worthy skills on display for the Madison Garden crowda jaw-dropping windmill finish of an alley-oop in transition certainly will be on his season highlight reelthe visitors trailed, 27-24, after the opening period.

New York (42-39) extended its lead behind its second unit, which outplayed the Bulls Bench Mob, beating them to the punch for loose balls and taking advantage of transition scoring opportunities.

Adjustments via Thibodeau and a 20-second timeoutand a significant increase in energybrought the Bulls back, as Luol Deng (23 points, 10 rebounds) carried the offensive loadthe heavily-used small forward played extended minutes, due to the Bulls losing swingman Ronnie Brewer to a sprained thumbwith C.J. Watson also contributing, putting the Knicks on their heels.

Thibodeau filtered his regulars back into the suddenly close-knit affair and with his starterssans shooting guard Keith Boganssharing the scoring load almost evenly, Chicago (61-20) found its groove against the offensively-potent home team. But even with another Rose postera vicious two-handed flush on the baselinethrilling the Garden audience, the Bulls went into the half on the wrong side of a 55-52 score.

After a Bogans basket to start the third quarter, Rose went on an individual spurt to cap an 9-0 Bulls runincluding a technical foul on New Yorks Shawne Williamsprompting a Knicks timeout. Deng then stepped into his role of co-starNoah might be the second-most popular Bull and Boozer the next most-accomplished (both after Rose, of course), but Deng has been the second-most valuable player all seasontaking a charge on Anthony and scoring three baskets before a Bogans triple from the corner made the befuddled home team press pause on the growing snowball.

It didnt stop there, as the visitors eventually extended the run to 26-2, giving themselves a comfortable advantage, mostly by virtue of their swarming defense leading to easy fast-break scoresincluding yet another Rose poster-worthy dunk, this one an unchallenged double-pump reverseand crisp offensive execution in the halfcourt.

We had good energy, I thought we rebounded the ball well, so we got out into the open floor and got some easy scoring opportunities and I thought that energized us. that gave us some life, said Thibodeau. We put more into it, more effort and they missed some shots that they normally make, too. Once we started challenging shots, it got better. Our pick-and-roll defense was better in the second half. But you can never relax against this team because even if you get a lead, the way they shoot the three, they can make up ground quickly.

Concurred Rose: We came out focused and we knew that in the beginning of the game, we let things kind of get easy on them. They got confidence and we just had to keep playing defense.

Watch: Rose on the Bulls' focus
We hadnt won in this building or beat this team and when we came out, we came out kind oflong pause soft, Ill say. We werent into them, we were letting guys get off, we were letting guys beat us with their strength and at halftime, Thibs came in, talked to us and we changed things, he continued. When guys are playing like that, especially the way we did in the second half, I think were a pretty hard team to beat. Weve got everything working, guys taking charges, diving on the floor for loose balls. Little things like that can change the game.

His words proved prophetic and the Bulls, as been their trend lately, got lax and while the Knicks never threatened their lead, poor ball security and a lack of defensive disciplineNew York reserve swingman Bill Walker (18 points) caught fire late in the periodprevented them from increasing it, resulting in an 84-73 lead for Chicago after three quarters.

The Knicks bench again got it going, as Walker s hot hand persisted and backup point guard Toney Douglas (13 points) joined in, reducing their deficit to single digits. The tables had turned and Chicago became the cant-do-right bunch, missing layups, turning the ball over and allowing the Knicks transition opportunities, uncontested paths to the rim and open jumpers in fits of defensive lapses.

As poorly as the Bulls played, however, their hosts didnt truly capitalize and upon Thibodeaus reinsertion of Rose and Boozer, the visitors became more stable and quickly bumped the lead back into double digits. Boozers domination of the backboards on both ends, stingy team defense and steady, if unimpressive basketball down the stretch paved the way for the Bulls to cruise to an easy victory down the stretch, despite a late Noah injury scare.

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.

More muscle, more money, more confidence: Nikola Mirotic ready to show consistency for Bulls

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USA TODAY

More muscle, more money, more confidence: Nikola Mirotic ready to show consistency for Bulls

Nikola Mirotic didn’t exactly lumber over to the media after the Bulls’ first practice, as a new man armed with a two-year, $27 million deal and 22 pounds worth of additional weight from the summer, the first time in which he didn’t play overseas.

He claimed there were no hard feelings from the summerlong impasse with the Bulls, where his restricted free-agent status prevented him from truly getting to the market, and his career inconsistencies also made it tough for the Bulls to give him an extended contract.

“I knew it was going to happen because with me it’s like every time is the last second. I don’t know why,” Mirotic said. “They made me an offer at the beginning of free agency, so I didn’t take that deal.”

So while his saga dragged along after he couldn’t find suitors, he stayed in Chicago for the most part, adding the bulk—although some would say it was stress weight considering it’s believed Mirotic wanted a deal in the $16-17 million range annually.

“Some people thought I was worried with my contract. No, I was very calm, working here until the middle of August,” Mirotic said. “My weight is feeling great and I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to this season, you know.”

“I’m feeling good. I’ve never felt that strong in my legs, feeling better with the rebounding, and I worked all summer in the low post, especially when I play that pick-and-roll and they switch me, so I need to be available to play in the low post against small guys. I was really working on getting stronger down there so I can finish.”

Coming to Chicago with plenty of fanfare, Mirotic has shown flashes but never the consistency many expected. Slow starts were accompanied by strong finishes after the All-Star break and the cycle of “if Niko can get it right” started all over again—only leading to more frustration when expectations weren’t met.

“I know that you guys (media) are very disappointed. I saw that the last two, three years, those reactions to that,” Mirotic said. “It is what it is. I came back just thinking about what happened. I knew what happened. I worked on all my weaknesses this summer. It’s time to change some things. I’m in a place where I can improve and get better.”

This time last year, the Bulls did everything they could to make Mirotic seize the power forward spot in training camp. Too bad Taj Gibson wasn’t notified and outworked everybody to join the first five.

But Gibson was traded in midseason, Jimmy Butler was traded and Dwyane Wade was bought out Sunday night, leaving Mirotic as somewhat an elder statesman on a team that doesn’t carry any playoff expectations for the season.

Now he’ll have to battle rookie Lauri Markkanen and third-year forward Bobby Portis for minutes at power forward, since it doesn’t appear he’ll play any small forward after playing there sparingly his first two seasons.

One can see Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg playing Mirotic and Markkanen together at center and power forward to have two floor-stretchers—although defense and rebounding will be a concern in the pairing.

“Everything's open right now. Lauri obviously had a great summer,” Hoiberg said. “He's got to work himself back into great shape right now. Basically since the European championships have been over, he's taken time off to recover and regroup and recharge his batteries.

“Bobby Portis has had a great summer. He's been around pretty much every day since the summer league.”

Mirotic said he was notified by management in the exit meetings the team would look different, but didn’t foresee Butler being traded on draft night. Now as long as he stays healthy, he’ll be a primary option on offense and until Zach LaVine makes his Chicago debut—which likely won’t take place until mid-December—he’ll have plenty of time to display his versatility in Hoiberg’s free-flowing system.

“It’s great, especially knowing how Fred wants to play this year,” Mirotic said. “They’re going to play fast, there’s no more like holding the ball, playing isolation. Now it’s more free, like when we used to play with Rajon (Rondo) on that second unit. Just play free and share the basketball. This is how it’s going to look.”

Clearly one who’s aware of the prognosticators who’ve said the Bulls will finish at the bottom of the standings, Mirotic added a bit of a bold statement, although it should be taken with a grain of preseason salt.

“I don’t think we’re going to be that bad like people are thinking.’’

Report: Dwyane Wade is 'nearing a commitment' to team up with LeBron James, Cavs

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USA TODAY

Report: Dwyane Wade is 'nearing a commitment' to team up with LeBron James, Cavs

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are teaming up again, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wade and James, of course, teamed up in Miami in 2010 and won two NBA titles. James then departed for Cleveland in 2015, and Wade signed with the Bulls last offseason after 13 years with the Heat.

The Bulls avoided a clearly awkward situation by agreeing to a buyout with Wade over the weekend before training camp began Tuesday.

Wade will also be teaming up with a fellow Chicago native in Derrick Rose, who signed for the NBA minimum earlier this offseason.