Lucas understands rags-to-riches "Linsanity" phenomenon

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Lucas understands rags-to-riches "Linsanity" phenomenon

If any player on the Bulls can fully grasp the Linsanity phenomenon, its John Lucas III. In the absence of both the still-sidelined Derrick Rose and backup point guard C.J. Watson earlier this season, Lucas showcased his ability to the tune of 25 points (on 28 shots) in a win over visiting Washington.

Thus, he understands that when given the opportunity, even a deep reserve on an NBA team has the ability to light it up if permitted to play enough minutes.

That said, Lucas, already a journeyman of sorts in his young professional career, while not jealous of Lin who has led the Knicks to a 7-0 record since he started receiving major minutes; hes 6-0 as a starter knows that time and situation plays a part in the success of players.

As a player, kind of in our shoes, who plays a little bit, maybe goes back to the end of the bench or not play at all, one team this year, another team next year, youre out of the league when you see players stay with it and not give up on what they want to do and want they want to accomplish, you root for them, Lucas explained to CSNChicago.com. I like his game and Ive been watching him, and its great that he went in there and stepped up. Hes accepting the challenge and so, youve got to root a person on whos an underdog.

Lucas, whose father played and coached in the league, recognized Lins talent when the current Knicks star was playing in college.

I watched him when he was at Harvard. My dad is really good friends with Tommy Amaker, whos the head coach at Harvard, and when they came to play Rice University in Houston, Lucas hometown, I was able to go to the game," he recounted. "I watched him play then and I watch him play now. Hes got game. If he didnt have game, he wouldnt be in this league, so it just shows you cant take anybody lightly because theyve never played and hes making the best of his opportunity.

"I just take my hat off to him. I thought he had a shot. I wouldnt say a legit lottery pick or anything like that, but I thought he had a legitimate shot to play in this league when I saw him play because I saw he was poised and he plays the game fun having fun out there, thats what its all about and it shows.

Lucas believes that by playing in New Yorks guard-friendly system, Lin the winner of the Eastern Conference player of the week award last week is better equipped to thrive, even after the return of All-Star Carmelo Anthony, known as an isolation scorer.

The system fits. Mike DAntonis system is a running system and he brings the Phoenix offense, so you really, as a PG, dont have to worry about getting into plays just get it and go, a lot of pick-and-roll and when youre able to create, get into the paint, finish, dime it, that system fits just about anybody," Lucas observed. "Its almost like youre playing in a summer-league game, but it fits him and I think he fits that system, he fits that coach and that team. Hes just showing what he brings to the table.

I dont think its a big adjustment. At the end of the day, as a ballplayer, you know your position, you know your role on the team. Obviously, hes not going to shoot the ball as much as hes been doing. Because of the injuries to them, hes had to step up to the plate and take some of the slack. I think, as a basketball player, youll find your way when everybody gets back, everybody gets healthy because its not just going to make you better. Its going to make the whole team better.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."