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With just over 20 games remaining in the NBA season, the Chicago Bulls hold the league's top win-loss record at 34-9 on the season. Leading the Miami Heat by 1.5 games in the Eastern Conference standings, the Bulls are eyeing the top seed in the playoffs, which would give them homecourt advantage throughout.
While both the Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder are behind the Bulls in the standings, part of that is due to scheduling, as all three teams have only lost nine games this season. Chicago has played a few more games, though, and it's earned the advantage by winning them.
The Bulls are coming off an impressive 111-97 victory over the Utah Jazz despite being without Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton and C.J. Watson. It's not easy to picture the Bulls playing with 12 healthy guys at this point in the year, but they continue to win regardless.
The Chicago Bulls came into Saturday night's game shorthanded as usual, and also as usual, they didn't let that fact bother them; led by the efforts of Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Derrick Rose, the Bulls claimed an easy 111-97 victory over the Utah Jazz.
Boozer led the team with 27 points on 13-17 shooting and also added a team-high eight rebounds. Kyle Korver hit six three pointers on his way to 26 points and also grabbed seven boards to go with six assists. Derrick Rose finished with 24 points and 13 assists, though he did have six turnovers.
Paul Millsap led Utah with 26 points on the night.
The Chicago Bulls are without Luol Deng on Saturday night, but as has been the case throughout the year, they've done a good job playing through their injury problems. Tonight they have a 48-41 lead on the Utah Jazz at halftime.
Carlos Boozer had a very good half, scoring 14 points on 7-10 shooting. He also pulled down six rebounds. Kyle Korver has 10 for Chicago, while Derrick Rose scored nine points on 3-7 shooting. As a team, the Bulls hit 48.8% of their shots in the half.
When the Chicago Bulls take on the Utah Jazz tonight at the United Center, they will be without the services of do-everything small forward Luol Deng. Deng appears to have reaggravated the wrist injury that's been bothering him since January. Deng missed a stretch of seven consecutive games because of his wrist earlier this season.
"Guys have done it before, it's part of the NBA," Thibodeau said of Deng playing with an injury that requires surgery. "He's doing fine. Nothing is happening that wasn't expected. If he can go, he'll go. If he can't, he won't."
"To me, if a guy is injured, he's injured. It doesn't matter who it's against," Thibodeau said. "I know everybody says 'This game is bigger than another.' They all count the same. They're all big games to us."
Spot-on. Very in-character. I think he's said these exact words, like, 25 other times this season.
The Chicago Bulls open their six-game homestand with a difficult 99-94 loss to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Thursday night, but they get a chance to rebound on Saturday against the Utah Jazz. Chicago broke their eight-game winning streak on Thursday, while the Jazz slipped back under .500 with a 13-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.
Luol Deng may rest his injured left wrist on Saturday, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Sun-Times, and he has been struggling lately to produce on offense. Against the Magic he hit just 1-9 shots and is amid a 14-41 slump overall, so you may take the opportunity to rest his wrist before the Bulls make their push for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Richard Hamilton is still in a shoulder sling and will not be available, so it may be up to Ronnie Brewer to carry the load at shooting guard.
Here's some great in-depth analysis from the game preview over at SB Nation's Bulls blog:
While Chicago is, as expected, a top-tier defensive team (ranking 2nd in overall defensive efficiency), the Jazz are mired at 24th overall. The Jazz allow above-average PERs at PG, PF and C, and suffer net negative PERs at PG, SG and SF. Whereas the Bulls are +12 when it comes to point-differential per 100 possessions, the Jazz are-1 (all according to 82games.com).
Of course, as mentioned, where the Jazz are strong is up front -- Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are all big and tough, and it comes as no surprise the Jazz get PERs of over 20 from their PF and C positions. One way the Bulls may counter that will be to pack the middle, as the Jazz are an atrocious three-point-shooting team (their 30.1% from deep is 29th in the league). And, as we all know, the Bulls can also make things difficult for the Jazz up front with a variety of good-to-excellent defensive bigs...and Carlos Boozer.
This is the information you need to find the game on Saturday night:
Utah Jazz (19-20, 5-14 away) vs. Chicago Bulls (33-9, 15-3 home)
Game date/time: 7:00 p.m., Saturday, March 10, 2012
Location: United Center, Chicago, IL
The Chicago Bulls might be the best team in the NBA, but that hasn't slowed trade rumors connecting the Bulls to free-agent-to-be Dwight Howard, center for the Orlando Magic. A potential deal for Howard has been discussed since the very start of the season, and as the trade deadline approaches, the entire situation remains the same: Howard is still in Orlando, he doesn't appear to want to go to Chicago, and the Bulls are being passive.
“It’s definitely getting old,” Rose said. “We’re sick and tired of hearing it. Like I said, the city speaks for itself. Chicago, marketing wise, is a great city. If someone chose to come here, they would definitely fit. I’m cool with the teammates I have.”
“I don’t pay attention to it unless someone comes to me — like you all and tell me something,” Rose said to a group of reporters. “I don’t know what’s going on or who’s talking to who. You all know more than I do.”
With shooting woes playing a major factor, the Chicago Bulls received a rare 99-94 defeat against the Orlando Magic on Thursday. Playing in front of the home crowd, the Bulls have generally been dominant, but they weren't able to outplay the Magic.
After managing to get back into the game following numerous deficits, missed shots by the likes of Luol Deng, Kyle Korver and even Derrick Rose proved to be seriously damaging. The Bulls finish the game shooting 40 percent from the field while holding the Magic to 42 percent, but it was a rare game in which Chicago actually got outrebounded.
Carlos Boozer had a big game for Chicago, scoring 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting, but it wasn't enough. Shooting from the field, Rose was just 6-of-22, Deng was just 1-of-9 and Korver was 0-for-7 in the second half. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 29 points and 18 rebounds while Jason Richardson also added 18.
The Chicago Bulls temporarily took a small lead against the Orlando Magic in the third quarter, but they now trail 79-71 going into the fourth quarter at the United Center. With just over five minutes left, Chicago took a 67-66 lead on a Carlos Boozer jumper, but Orlando finished off the quarter on a 13-4 run.
Three-pointers have been huge for the Magic, as they've knocked down 10-of-20 shots from long distance so far. Between that success from long range, a big game from Dwight Howard and a struggling Derrick Rose, it's understandable for the Magic to be holding a lead at this point in the game.
Boozer and Taj Gibson lead Chicago with 14 points apiece so far. Rose has added 12 points and seven assists, but he's just 5-of-17 shooting from the field. Howard has 25 points and 14 rebounds for Orlando while Jason Richardson has led the three-point attack by knocking down four so far en route to 18 pounds.
After trailing big for the majority of the second quarter following a brutal showing in the first, the Chicago Bulls found their stride in the final minutes before the half to trim the Orlando Magic's lead to 57-52 at the break. Trailing 52-34 with four minutes remaining, Kyle Korver scored seven straight points for Chicago to ignite a 18-5 run in the final minutes.
The Magic dominated the first quarter on the road, managing to finish the first half with impressive offensive numbers even after slowing in the second quarter. Shooting 55 percent from the field, the Magic were a deadly 7-of-13 from three-point range.
The Bulls found their three-point stroke late, though, including this unreal 26-foot buzzer-beater from Derrick Rose that ended the half:
After late night's buzzer-beater to win game against Milwaukee, some Bulls fans probably weren't too surprised that the reigning MVP managed to knock down this shot. Frankly, it's getting easier and easier to believe that Rose can do nearly anything he wants on the basketball court.
That shot does help to distract from the fact that Rose has struggled most of the night, though, shooting just 4-of-12 from the field en route to 10 points and five assists in the first half. Taj Gibson and Kyle Korver were key off the bench, scoring a combined 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
Dwight Howard had a big half for Orlando with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The Orlando Magic came out hot against the Bulls on Thursday night and they're taking a 37-22 lead into the second quarter.
The Bulls shot 47.6% from the field, which isn't a terrible percentage, but they haven't gotten nearly the production from beyond the three-point line that Orlando has. And Derrick Rose hit just two of seven field goal attempts.
Chicago Bulls head coach updated the team's injury situation ahead of Thursday night's game against the Orlando Magic and indicated the Bulls would be without C.J. Watson and Richard Hamilton. Watson is apparently much closer to a return to the floor than Hamilton:
Hamilton and Watson out tonight. C.J. getting closer, Rip a ways away, reports Thibodeau. #ORLvsCHI— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 8, 2012
After injuring a shoulder against Indiana on Monday, Hamilton skipped Chicago's game on Wednesday. He'd only been back a few games from an injury that had kept him out of action for the majority of February.
Watson has had his share of injury troubles as well this season, and this is the third straight game he'll miss.
The Orlando Magic are in town tonight to play the Chicago Bulls, which can only mean one thing: everyone is talking about the potential of Dwight Howard joining the Bulls to create a superteam with Chicago's reigning MVP Derrick Rose. While the pairing seems to make sense on a numerous levels, Howard has always been standoffish in regards to joining Chicago.
Today at shootaround, Howard gave some indication of what I've believed for a long time: he has no idea where he wants to play yet next season. Howard did say something that is potentially discouraging to those dreaming about Rose and Howard playing together. He enjoys being the focal point of a team.
"I don't think there's a player in the NBA that wants to be a nobody," Howard said after shootaround Thursday morning. "I think everybody wants to be that guy to take the last shot or be that guy that everybody is leaning on, for whatever reason.
"And I don't think there's any problem wanting to be that guy. I've been that guy for this team since I've been here. And my whole life I've been put in the position of leadership, and I take on that role and I love doing it. Just by what people think, it's very tough being a leader."
The Chicago Bulls have won eight straight games and are about to embark on a homestand that surely qualifies as "March Madness". First up is the Orlando Magic and their superstar center Dwight Howard, the first of many All-Stars the United Center will get a first-hand look at over the next two weeks.
This will be the second of three meetings between the Chicago and the Magic. In the first, the Bulls defeated Orlando 97-93, despite Howard going off for 28 points and 15 rebounds. It will be interesting to see how Joakim Noah -- who's been playing really great lately (20 points, 10 rebounds last night vs. the Bucks) fares against Howard this time around.
Game date/time: 7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 8, 2012
Location: United Center, Chicago, IL
Derrick Rose just saved the day for the Chicago Bulls. With the score tied at 104 late in regulation, Rose held the ball for the final shot before hitting a step back jumper in the face of Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings to win the game at the buzzer for Chicago. The 106-104 victory improves the Bulls to 33-8 overall and gives Chicago its eighth straight win. The Bucks fall to 15-24 with the loss.
Rose was dominant throughout, forcing his way to the foul line whenever he felt like it. Rose ends the night with 30 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds by going 8-of-22 from the field and 14-of-14 from the free throw line. Joakim Noah added 20 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago in the win. Carlos Boozer scored 15 and Luol Deng scored 12 for the Bulls.
The Bucks were led by Ersan Ilyasova, who scored a career-high 32 points.
Well, here's something surprising: as the fourth quarter begins at the Bradley Center, the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks are tied 73-73. Chicago has won each of the previous three meetings this season in decisive fashion, but the Bucks are hanging around tonight at home.
Derrick Rose leads the Bulls with 20 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Carlos Boozer has 15 points and five rebounds for Chicago. Center Joakim Noah has 14 points and seven rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting. Ronnie Brewer and Luol Deng each have seven points.
The Chicago Bulls are halfway to their eighth consecutive victory. The Bulls lead the Milwaukee Bucks 55-50 tonight at the Bradley Center behind some hot shooting and another impressive start against Milwaukee for point guard Derrick Rose.
Rose has 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four assists at the half. Carlos Boozer has 11 points and four rebounds for Chicago. Center Joakim Noah -- who had his first career triple-double last time these two teams met -- ended the half with 10 points and three rebounds. Ronnie Brewer has seven points and Taj Gibson has six points for Chicago at the break.
Drew Gooden scored 16 points for Milwaukee in the first quarter, primarily against Boozer. When the Bulls stuck Noah on Gooden in the second quarter, he didn't score. Ersan Ilyasova has 11 points for Milwaukee in the half.
The Chicago Bulls have defeated the Milwaukee Bucks three times already this season, and none of the three games were close. Even so, Milwaukee is battling Chicago relatively tough through the first quarter tonight. Chicago will head into the second with a 33-30 lead at the Bradley Center.
Derrick Rose leads the Bulls with 12 points and three assists in the first quarter on 5-of-7 shooting. Guard Ronnie Brewer also came to play, finishing the opening frame with seven points on 3-of-3 shooting. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer each scored six in the first quarter for Chicago.
The Bulls will have to defend their league-best record without help from two of the key contributors, starting SG Richard Hamilton and reserve G C.J. Watson. According to CSN Chicago, both players will miss Wednesday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks:
Thibs: Rip and CJ out tonight vs. Bucks— Aggrey Sam (@CSNBullsInsider) March 7, 2012
Richard "Rip" Hamilton has only played in 16 games in the 2011-12 NBA Season, struggling with various leg and shoulder injuries, while C.J. Watson has played in 27 games this season and is currently struggling with an ankle sprain.
In Hamilton's limited action with the Bulls this year, he has averaged a career low 15.8 points per 36 minutes, despite one of his best field goal percentages -- .452 -- of his career.
The Bulls take the court at 7:00 p.m. CST, hoping to improve their NBA-best 32-8 record.
The Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks should be familiar with each other when they tip-off tonight at 7:00 p.m at the Bradley Center. The division rivals have met three times since Jan. 27, with the Bulls winning all three games. Speaking of streaks: Chicago will be looking for its eighth straight win. At the moment, the Bulls are two games in front of the Miami Heat for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and own the best record in basketball (32-8).
Milwaukee is on the outside looking-in at the playoff picture in the East. At 15-23 overall, the Bucks are in ninth in the conference and three games away from the eighth seeded New York Knicks for the final postseason spot. The Bucks had lost three games in a row before defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 97-93 at home on Monday.
Game date/time: 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 6, 2012
Location: Bradley Center
TV: Comcast SportsNet Chicago
Richard Hamilton lasted about 90 seconds in the Chicago Bulls' 92-72 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, as he collided with Roy Hibbert while trying to defend Paul George in pick and roll and immediately grabbed his right shoulder and pulled up limp. The training staff escorted Rip down the tunnel, and he did not return for the remainder of the contest. Various injuries have nagged Hamilton throughout the season, but if he is out an extended period of time the team might have to pursue another shooting guard at the NBA trade deadline.
After the game, head coach Tom Thibodeau did not sound optimistic about the injury:
"He collided and it's a shoulder. I thought it was a stinger. He tried to shake it off. That wasn't the case. We'll have to wait until (Tuesday). Hopefully, he'll be OK."
quotes via Sam Smith of Bulls.com. Here is a look at what happened to Hamilton, and his reaction to the hit.
Chicago Bulls guard Richard Hamilton exited Monday night's 92-72 victory over the Indiana Pacers at the United Center in the first minutes of the first quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Hamilton will be re-evaluated tomorrow. Hamilton's Bulls teammates said the injury "looked serious"
Thibodeau said Rip will be re-examined on Tuesday. Players said Rip was in good spirits afterward but admitted it looked serious. #Bulls— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 6, 2012
Hamilton has been slowly integrated back into the Chicago lineup since returning from a groin injury last Tuesday in a win over the New Orleans Hornets. Hamilton -- the lone major addition for the Bulls this season -- has played only 15 games this year and is averaging 12 points per contest.
The Chicago Bulls trailed the Indiana Pacers by a point heading into halftime on Monday night, but a 33-13 advantage in the third quarter would open the doors to a blowout victory for Tom Thibodeau's crew. When the final horn sounded, Chicago got the revenge it vowed with a 92-72 win at the United Center. The victory pushes Chicago to 32-8, while the Pacers fall to 23-13.
The win is the seventh straight for the Bulls. Luol Deng scored a team-high 20 points and added six rebounds. Derrick Rose had 13 points and nine assists, and did not play in the final frame after scoring 11 points in the third. Joakim Noah finished with nine points and 17 rebounds in the win. Three bench players (John Lucas: 13 points, Ronnie Brewer: 12 points, Taj Gibson: 11 points) score well for Chicago in the victory.
Paul George scored 21 points to lead the Pacers. George Hill added 17 off the bench in the loss.
The Chicago Bulls awoke in the third quarter against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, outscoring their opponent 33-13 to build a 75-56 lead going into the final frame at the United Center. Derrick Rose struggled immensely in the first half, but had 11 points and five assists in the third quarter.
Rose has 13 points and nine rebounds thus far on 5-of-16 shooting. Luol Deng has 15 points and five rebounds on 3-of-10 shooting, all three makes from three-point range. Joakim Noah has nine points and 14 rebounds heading into the fourth.
Little has gone right for the Chicago Bulls through the first half of their Monday night matchup with the Indiana Pacers. Richard Hamilton left in the first quarter with a shoulder injury, and team stars Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer are each struggling. Somehow, the Bulls head into halftime down only one, as they trail the Pacers at the United Center 43-42.
Rose, Deng, and Boozer have combined to shoot 3-for-21 from the field. Deng still has seven points and four rebounds, but Rose and Boozer each only have two points John Lucas III came off the bench late in the first quarter to score nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. Joakim Noah has six points and eight rebounds for Chicago.
Bulls shooting guard Richard Hamilton can't seem to avoid the injury bug this season. He missed the majority of February before returning to action on Feb. 28, but now he may be sidelined once again. According to the team, Hamilton suffered a shoulder injury against Indiana and may not be able to return to the game.
Hamilton is questionable to return...Bulls just calling it a right shoulder injury— David Schuster (@Schumouse) March 6, 2012
Hamilton logged a little over a minute of playing time on Monday night before getting hurt and did not score a point. He's averaging 12.1 points and 3.3 assists per game this season.
It was a rough opening quarter for Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who has two fouls to go with his two points, but Chicago has a 22-20 lead as the teams head to the second quarter.
Luol Deng leads Chicago with seven points, though he was just 1-6 from the field, while Joakim Noah has five points and four rebounds. Carlos Boozer also struggled to shoot the ball, and the Bulls as a team shot just 34.8%. Indiana wasn't much better, though, and Bulls have the edge on the glass.
Thibodeau reports Watson is out with a left ankle sprain. #INDvsCHI— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 5, 2012
Like several Chicago players this season, Watson has had his share of injury problems. He missed over 10 games back in January and another two in February. At this stage, there is no word on how long the ankle injury might keep Watson out, and Tuesday is an off day for the team.
Watson is averaging 9.8 points and 3.9 assists per game this season.
Tom Thibodeau's Chicago Bulls are distinct across the NBA landscape for their unique ability to keep their edge regardless of the competition. It's how Chicago stockpiled 62 regular season wins -- the most in the NBA -- a season ago, and also how they've raced out to an NBA-best record of 31-8 to begin this year. Chicago is 4-0 since the All-Star break with wins over the Hornets, Spurs, Cavs and 76ers, which is enough to bring the Bulls to the top of Tom Ziller's NBA power rankings over at The Mothership.
The Bulls were the only elite team without a loss (or two) in the post-All-Star ramp-up. The closest call came Sunday against the 76ers, but Derrick Rose was simply too much. Derrick Rose is simply too much.
The Chicago Bulls host the Indiana Pacers tonight at the United Center.
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