Thursday night the Bulls continued their road trip with a stop in Salt Lake City. Coming off the win in Portland on Tuesday, the Bulls hoped to carry their momentum to 8-4. Meanwhile, the Jazz came in with a 7-5 record with star Gordon Hayward playing some of the best basketball of his career. Averaging a very strong 22 PPG, the now six-year veteran is looking like a true superstar. Called for a 9:30 CST start time, we didn’t have tip-off until 9:45 CST.
- Plenty of green sits were available at the Vivint Smart Home Arena for what have been a marquee matchup twenty years ago. The Bulls supporting their classic all red road jerseys, while the Jazz wore the hit or miss sleeve jerseys with a musical note in the upper right corner of the uniform. Robin Lopez beat out the newly paid center, Rudy Gobert, and Bulls basketball was on the air. Lopez also was the first player to register a point, followed by a Boris Diaw three from the corner a few possessions later. The first TV time out came around, the Bulls led 16-15. A majority of the first quarter was quite the chess match, as both teams fought back and forth. At the three-minute mark, the Jazz led 21-20 with Dante Exum leading the way with six points. In the final minute, both teams played strong defense and the score through one was 26-25 Utah.
- The second quarter began with Denzel Valentine checking in for the Bulls. Valentine was one of the many bright young talents that were on the floor at the start of the second, with the likes of Bobby Portis and Trey Lyles. The Bulls began the quarter on a seven to one run. This run was created because Gobert was off the court, and the Jazz had no protection at the rim. As a result, the Bulls were free to attack the basket. Once Gobert returned to the court, the Jazz again were able to get back into the game, protect the basket, and eventually tie the score. As we came close to the five-minute mark, the game continued to bounce back and forth. Rudy Gobert continued to do Rudy Gobert things, blocking, rebounding and scoring. The scoring portion was somewhat limited, as with under five minutes to go, both teams had yet to reach forty points. Yet, water seems to always find its level. The Jazz made a small run in the final two minutes, and at the half the Jazz led by two after Jimmy G. Buckets drilled a deep three at the buzzer. The G… it stands for Gets.
- The second half began with a three attempted by Rodney Hood that was well short. The Bulls took the momentum from Butler’s buzzer beater right into the second half, as they jumped out to a six-point lead at the 9:30 mark. Jerian Grant started off the quarter strong, he was attacking the rim very well despite the tall Frenchman not named Diaw near the basket. The timeout that occurred at the 9:30 mark did not really slow down the Bulls. The offense started to click, again led by Grant, as the Bulls led by nine with just over five minutes in the third. However, just as it seemed things would really crack open for the Bulls, the Jazz cut the lead right back to five as Gordon Hayward made a strong defensive play on Jimmy Butler. In typical NBA fashion, the Bulls decided to play their hand and extended their lead once again to ten at the 1:30 mark. There was an opportunity for another buzzer beater at the end of the quarter, but Gobert missed a layup where he easily got fouled, however there was no call. After three, the Bulls led 66-58.
- After some maintenance on the hoop and an extended soundbite of “We will rock you”, the fourth quarter began with a great possession by the Bulls, as they spread the ball out beautifully, and Dwyane Wade scored one of the easiest layups in his career. But the strong basketball didn’t stop there. Denzel Valentine drilled a three and extended the Bulls lead to fifteen. It didn’t stop there. This game was the Bulls to lose. With less than ten minutes to play, the Bulls led by seventeen and had only allowed to the Jazz to score sixty points. Once again, in typical NBA fashion, a run was made. At the 6:43 mark, Joe Johnson hit a floater to cut the Bulls lead to twelve. Utah cut the lead down to eight, as the Bulls could not get any offense for quite a few possessions. But then, D-Wade took over. After Dante Exum hit two free throws, the veteran drilled a big mid-range jumper to put the lead back to ten. Yet, these Bulls proved that they are not the Bulls that we’ve come to know (sound familiar?). Jimmy hit a massive twenty-foot jumper to extended the Bulls lead back to seven with just over a minute remaining. Final score: Bulls win a slugfest in the land of the Mormons, 85-77. Drive home safe Chicago.
- Overall, this game just added to the argument of why having no Rajon Rondo might be a good thing for the Bulls. It’s just very clear that their defense is a lot better when he is not on the court. There is no way that you could hold a team to under 85 points, even if they are a poor offensive team, with Rondo in the starting lineup. So questions will certainly start to arise as to what the Bulls will do with Rondo.
- Up Next: the road trip continues as the Bulls will be in Los Angeles until Sunday night, as they will play the Clippers Saturday and the Lakers the following day.
Wednesday night at Phillips arena. The seats by no means packed, Dwight Howard won the tip, and Bulls basketball was on the air. After their strong outing against the Magic on Monday, the Bulls played the Atlanta Hawks in a battle of two eastern conference powerhouses. Jimmy Butler banged two threes to start off the Bulls scoring. After Butler drilled a wide open three, he had a little chuckle with Hawks small forward Kyle Korver, and in typical Stacey King fashion, he made the Kyle Korver hot sauce reference, only in favor of Butler. However, the rest of the game would not be so sweet for the visiting Bulls.
- Throughout the entire first quarter, the Bulls struggled against the three. The quarter was a complete seesaw. To say the game was going back and forth was an understatement. The only stat where the teams were separated was team rebounds. At around the two-minute mark of the first, the Hawks out-rebounded the Bulls eleven to four. Out of all players on the Hawks, Thabo Sefolosha was giving the Bulls fits in the first. He allowed the Hawks to finish the quarter strongly and opened up their lead to 35-27 after one. Jimmy Butler did finish the quarter leading the game with ten points. Both teams shot above fifty percent in the first, so it’s safe to think that this game was going to be a shootout.
- The second quarter began, and Sefolosha continued one his best offensive starts in a long time. Seven minutes in, the veteran had eighteen points and an absurd +12. The Hawks took full advantage of the surprise offense from Sefolosha. At the eight minute mark of the second, Atlanta led by a whooping sixteen points. As Atlanta continued to hold the large lead, Dwayne Wade was holding his own. Prior to missing a free throw, Wade hadn’t missed. He had seventeen points while shooting seven of seven from the floor. The Bulls continued to somewhat hang around, but their defense continued to very well below par. The Hawks did go on quite the dry spell towards the end of the first half, but still finished with a ridiculous sixty eight points. The silver lining was that the Bulls offense came alive towards the end of the half, and the shootout was very much alive. At the half the score was 68-61.
- Taj Gibson inbounded to Rajon Rondo to begin the third. The pace of the game continued to be rather fast paced, and the points kept coming in on both sides of the court. As a result, the players started to open up a bit. Robin Lopez committed pretty much a hard intentional foul on Dwight Howard, and as Dwyane Wade went in on the fast break, Kent Bazemore came in hard from behind. Clearly a foul, Bazemore had his eyebrows quite high as he barked at the officials. Meanwhile, the Bulls kept just clawing back into the game. On the fast break again, Wade hit a step back jumper to secure a temporary one-point lead for the Bulls. The Hawks went right back down and answered with an and-one by Dwight Howard, who at the time was approaching a double-double of eight points and eight boards. At the halfway mark of the third, the Bulls took a timeout at the 5:54 mark, with the score tied 78-78. The scoring continued to poor in, and the game continued to constantly go back and forth. The Hawks again finished the third again on a high note, and regained a six point lead and a buzzer-beater from Malcolm Delaney.
- Surprisingly, within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, both teams started out rather cold to begin the fourth quarter. The waited till exactly two minutes in to get themselves on the board as they were able to get a steal and Wade threw down a dunk on the other end. Almost immediately after the dunk, Tim Hardaway Jr. drilled a three to give the Hawks another large lead and shimmied his way to the bench as the Bulls took a timeout. At the six-minute mark, Jimmy Butler hit a big mid-range jumper with the shot clock winding down to once again trim Atlanta’s lead. Which, if you haven’t been able to realize, had been the theme of the game. At the five-minute mark, the Bulls had cut the lead to two as Doug McDermott hit a nice running floater. Once again, the Bulls had made it a game. With thirty-six seconds to go, Atlanta led 111-103, and it seemed like the Bulls had thrown in the towel. FINAL SCORE: ATL: 115 CHI: 107
- As the Bulls again looked to be on the verge of tying, the Hawks extended their slim lead, by Thabo Sefolosha hitting a running floater. Sure, why not? The Bulls then went six straight possessions without scoring, and the Hawks went back up eight with just over two minutes to play.
- One of the major stats of the night was that the Hawks had fifty-two bench points, while the Bulls only had nineteen. Obviously this number of points is a bit extreme for a bench on a nightly basis, but it has to serve as a red flag. You simply cannot have your bench that is going to give up more than about thirty points. The bench just put the starters in a very tough position tonight. If the starters were able every minute in this game, the Bulls would have blown the Hawks out. The Hawks’ starters did just enough to scrap their sixth win of the year, and the Bulls fell to 4-4.
- Up Next: Wade makes his long awaited return to Miami tomorrow night, as the Bulls hope to right the ship against a struggling Miami side.
On a night where it seemed like the entire city of Chicago was watching game seven of the world series (including yours truly), the Bulls played their fourth game of the season against the Boston Celtics. This was a big game for the Bulls early on this season, considering that the Celtics are considered to be one of the few teams that have a fighting chance against the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the Bulls dropped their first game of the season 107-100 in a tightly contested battle that dropped the Bulls to 3-1 on the year.
- The Bulls starting five were Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Robin Lopez. At the beginning of the game, both teams looked good as they traded leads throughout the first quarter. Jae Crowder got off to a hot start, where he scored eight of the Celtics’ first 20 points.
- In addition to Crowder’s solid first quarter, the Celtics broke out late in the first period of play. At the 1:00 minute mark in the first, they led 34-21, and ended up with a lead of 36-25. This was by far the most amount of points the Bulls had allowed in the first quarter this season.
- However, this Bulls team proved why they are quite different from previous ones. They clawed right back to trim the Celtics lead to three at halftime. Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with twelve points. Isaiah Thomas had a stellar first half, with fourteen points and seven assists.
- As the third quarter came to fruition, the Bulls again fell off. Out of all players, Amir Johnson was the player that got hot in the third. At the 1:00 minute mark in the third, he had twenty-two points, while shooting nine of eleven from the floor. The Celtics outscored the Bulls 26-18 in the third quarter.
- While David Ross became the oldest player to hit a home run in game seven world series history, this game got tight. That was really the moment where the Celtics took firm control of the game as well. Boston really proved why they are one of the more balanced teams in the league, with a strong focus on offense. Despite having no Al Horford tonight, their offense was very efficient at finding the open player on the court.
- However unfortunate the first loss of the year for the Bulls may be, they still showed why this year is going to be different. The offense has been electric through the first four games of the season, which is a very positive thing. Hoiberg was brought in for his offensive instruction, and now in year two it seems to be working. We are still only four games in, but this has to promising.
- Up Next: The Bulls take on the Knicks tomorrow night, as Derrick Rose returns to Chicago for the first time since signing with the Knicks. One of the larger storylines will be his introduction tomorrow night. Personally, I hope that he will have a nice ovation. Rose’s story is one of the more depressing stories to come out of Chicago sports, something he really couldn’t control.