Tag Archives: Hassan Whiteside

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls hang on to win a close one over the Heat at the UC

It is extremely ironic that the Miami Heat were in town to take on the Bulls on a freezing December night in Chicago. Winter may have hit the streets of the city outside, but indoors at the United Center fans packed in to support the Bulls as they tried to gain some momentum against a slumping Miami team. As both teams gathered to the trademark Bull logo at half court, Robin Lopez and Hassan Whiteside squared up. Surprisingly, Lopez won the tip and Bulls basketball was on the air.

The beginning of the first quarter was quite the see-saw battle, as both teams got off to decent starts. Dwyane Wade broke the 0-0 tie nineteen seconds into the game by hitting a short jumper from eight feet out. To nobody’s surprise, Hassan Whiteside got off to a hot start. At the halfway mark of the first, Whiteside had eight points, two rebounds, and one block. The Bulls took a timeout at the 5:33 mark, with the score even at fifteen. After the timeout, Whiteside hit one of two free throws and the Heat had the lead. Miami was able to extend that lead to 23-19, but the Bulls remained in striking distance. In fact, they were able to gain a lead at the 1:14 mark after Denzel Valentine sunk a pair of free throws. That lead stayed to the end of the first, as the Bulls led 29-27.

Per usual, the bench for both teams was out to begin the second. The likes of journeyman Derrick Williams and Josh Richardson for the Heat, and the usual suspects of Valentine and the Brazilian beauty Cristiano Felicio for the Bulls. The see-saw battle continued to progress, as both teams continued to counter punch each other’s attacks on both ends of the court. Wade was busy on the stat sheet against his former team as the Bulls starters returned to the floor. At the halfway mark, the Bulls led by two as the score was 41-39 after former North Carolina Tar Heel Wayne Ellington hit a mid-range jumper. As the quarter continued to progress, the Brazilian Beauty continued to flourish. At the 2:40 mark in the second, Cristiano had six points and six rebounds in only nine minutes of play. On the other end, Whiteside was feasting on Robin Lopez. Singlehandedly keeping the Heat in the game, he had sixteen points and six rebounds at the 2:40 mark. The push by Whiteside must have been inspired the rest of his teammates, because after the Heat tied the game at forty- nine, they seemed to gain the momentum. However, the Bulls scraped this mini-run by Miami and at the half, the score was tied at fifty-five. In the half, there were nine lead changes with twelve ties. Also, Miami outscored the Bulls seven to four in terms of fast break points in the half, which is surprising, considering the Heat were playing their fourth game in five nights.

The third quarter began as the ball was inbounded to Goran Dragic, who dished it off to Josh McRoberts, which eventually resulted in Wayne Ellington drilling a three to begin the scoring. The Bulls answered on the other end with a basket by Dwayne Wade, who continued to play strong at the start of the third. The Bulls looked like they were starting to hit their stride as Wade again was able to make a play, as he broke out on the fast break and threw down a spinning dunk that resulted in an and-one, and a smirk by Wade at the Heat’s bench as he made his way to the free throw line. The veteran continued to be scorching hot, as he hit another shot to give the Bulls an eight-point lead that resulted in a Miami timeout at the 8:40 mark. However, the timeout strategy didn’t go in Heat head coach Erick Spoelstra’s favor, as the Bulls continued to push their lead on the Heat to ten. The energy of the Bulls was clearly higher than Miami, and rightfully so. It just seemed like a matter of time before this happened, due to the Heat’s amount of recent games they had played. The quarter continued, and so did the Bulls run. Once the Bulls got on this run, the momentum was certainly sliding to Chicago’s side. With just under five minutes to play, the Bulls led 77-66 after Whiteside and Dragic connected on an alley-oop at the 4:30 mark. The strategic timeout by the Bulls to bring in substitutions may have hurt Chicago, as Miami cut the lead to six with just under three minutes to play after Josh McRoberts hit a three off a Goran Dragic assist. This momentum created by Miami was largely due to the Bulls’ bench not being able to put the nail in the coffin. The Bulls looked like they were ready to break this game open, but Miami would not go away. After three quarters, the Bulls led 83-75.

The fourth quarter began with the Bulls hoping to put this game away. Unlike the past few seasons, Miami is a team that you need to go out and beat when you play them. Niko Mirotic began the Bulls scoring in the fourth with a running jumper to keep the Bulls lead at eight. Miami continued to answer the Bulls punches, but Chicago looked like they were not going to squander this one as the Bulls continued to lead by eight as Miami took a timeout with just under nine to play in the game. Yet, the Heat just continued to crawl and scratch back into this game. Seeming to have no life, Miami had the lead cut to four with just over six minutes to go. Surprisingly, one of the biggest moments during this game was when Willie Reed missed both of his free throws to keep the Bulls’ lead at four. As a result, fans at the UC received free Chick-Fil-A sandwhiches because Reed missed both. The quarter continued, and it looked like we were on our way to great finish. While this may not be ideal for Bull fans, it does make for some great drama. As the amount of time continued to drop, the Bulls continued to hang on for dear life. The fight by Miami came up short, and the Bulls escaped with a 105-100 victory. Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with a game high thirty-one points, along with Dwyane Wade dropping twenty-eight against his former team. So yes, Chicago did drive home safe, even in the bad weather.

What was expected to be a rather relaxed night for the Bulls that would involve heavy minutes for rotation players turned out to be a very close game where Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler played heavy minutes. These are the kind of games that you must build a lead early, because the NBA regular season is such a marathon, and you need your stars to have their knees under them for more important games. The Bulls are off until Tuesday, where they will face the young and talented Minnesota Timberwolves at the UC.

 

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Note-A-Bulls: Wade, Bulls, emerge victorious in the 305

After an exciting 3-0 start, reality hit the Bulls with a three game losing streak. Coming off another loss, the Bulls looked to hit back against a respectable Eastern Conference foe, the Miami Heat. Through nine games thus far, the list of guys who have stepped up for the Bulls continues to grow, but perhaps it was the lack of reliance on one guy that helped the Bulls keep the Heat contained through each quarter. Not for a lack of trying, Dwyane Wade failed to make a significant impression in his former home arena.

  • Per usual, Coach Hoiberg sent out Rondo, Wade. Butler, Gibson and Lopez to start things off. While the numbers differed heavily by each frame, the group was able get the job done in a variety of ways.
  • The 1st quarter was a streaky one for the Bulls. Starting down 4-12, the Bulls managed to score 12 unanswered to go up 16-12, and held onto the lead going into the 2nd.
  • Going into the 2nd quarter up one, the game began to take shape as both teams managed to reach the 30-point threshold. Starting out slow again, the Bulls went down seven points early on. Like the first quarter, they grabbed the lead back and would continue going back and forth, eventually heading into the half tied. With limited playing time, Bobby Portis managed to grab a couple of rebounds and make use of his minutes.
  • Coming out of the tunnel tied, the 3rd quarter was a complete 180 for both teams. It was 12 minutes filled with rebounds, fouls and turnovers. It mostly remained a one-possession game throughout, as each team managed to score just 17 points in the 3rd quarter.
  • In the 4th, the Bulls grabbed an early lead and kept their distance for most of the 12 minutes, holding on to win 98-95.
  • I said earlier in the season not to expect Robin Lopez to lead the lineup in rebounds on most nights, as there are a fair share of guys who can step up in that department. Tonight it was Rajon Rondo who hauled in a very impressive 12 boards. While the offense wasn’t particularly efficient, Rondo managed to go 6-14 from the field with 16 points, rounded out by 6 assists.
  • As the season takes shape, Hoiberg continues to stick with his usual game plan of giving Mirotic and McDermott a healthy mix of playing time, while also showing Canaan and Portis to limited action. The bench provided a quiet 25 points, while Doug McDermott saw his playing time reach 33 minutes.
  • Six of the nine players who saw action scored in double digits, while the three who did not (Gibson, Canaan, and Portis) were all held to under 25 minutes.
  • As will be the case throughout the season, we saw both good and bad from Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic had a respectable 10 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes, but was not particularly valuable on defense, picking up three fouls.
  • Despite matching up against Hassan Whiteside, who had a great performance logging 20 points and 20 rebounds, Robin Lopez managed to snag 9 boards and a healthy 16 points, leading the Bulls with 20 field goal attempts in 38 minutes.
  • The bad: The Bulls allowed the Heat to shoot around 45% from downtown on 29 three point attempts. Luckily, the Heat only made 2/3rds of their 15 free-throw attempts, and were shaky from inside the 3-point line.
  • As for the Heat, the storyline was similar to the Bulls. Everyone chipped in, but they could not outplay their offensive inconsistencies. Aside from Whiteside’s 20-20 performance, they struggled shooting from the field, and managed to stick around mainly due to their looks behind the arc. They had four players score at least fifteen points, but didn’t receive much otherwise.
  • Justice Winslow showed flashes of growth as he was 50% from the field, with 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, and 15 points. His balance will be something to keep an eye on if the Heat find themselves in the playoff picture as the season progresses.
  • Up Next: the Bulls host the 2-5 Wizards Sunday night. They look to extend their record to 6-4.

BULLet Points: Heat dominate second half, blow out faltering Bulls

I wrote about the last time the Bulls and Heat squared off against each other, and it’s unfortunate that the Bulls have not trended in a better direction since then. In fact, they remain solidly at .500, losing last night in Chicago, 118-96 to drop to 32-32. This marks their second loss in a row after having won two in a row. Granted, Thursday’s loss in San Antonio is about as tough of a matchup as a team will get, but returning to the United Center last night should have proven to be an opportunity to keep the winning going. And they looked fairly well positioned to do so through the first half, even with a somewhat weak second quarter, but the second half was all Miami. With just 18 regular season games left, the odds of an eighth seed are looking ever out of their favor, but let’s take a look at what led to this loss:

  • Fatigue. Sure, it’s an easy thing to point to so late in the season on a team that’s not very deep to begin with, but after traveling back from San Antonio the night before, it’s no wonder. Back to backs are especially tough in the NBA because of the travel involved, and it certainly seemed to be affecting the Bulls last night. Their scoring dropped off quarter by quarter during the course of the game, and by the fourth, they could only muster 15 points. By then, the Heat had trended the opposite direction, increasing their scoring as the game progressed.
  • They were down four players. Cameron Bairstow and Joakim Noah were both inactive, and Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler didn’t dress. Bairstow and Noah may not have a massive impact on a game like this, but they would have at least helped keep the starters fresh. The real loss is Rose and Butler, and by now, I have some concern about what’s happening with Butler’s knee. The Bulls’ medical staff being what it is, I fear that this could develop into a much more serious problem. With the season being so close to its end, the best long term decision for Butler might be to shut him down, but I’m digressing.
  • The absence of Rose and Butler mean that Fred Hoiberg had to rely on E’Twaun Moore and newly acquired Justin Holiday. The University of Washington product played rather well last night though, leading the team in minutes played and adding 14 points on 6/15 shooting from the field. Holiday is playing in just his second full season in the NBA, and after having bounced around quite a bit, perhaps he can find his niche in Chicago. I’m a fan of Moore’s as well, and he played pretty decently (six points and five assists), but a guard duo of Holiday and Moore just isn’t going to lead the Bulls to a victory, even against the Heat at this point. Holiday did provide some reallly nice moments, like this one:
  • Pau Gasol nearly had a triple double. He led the team in scoring with 17, pulled down 12 rebounds, and had nine assists. I joked on Twitter a while ago about Gasol and the idea that he thinks he can be a part of the Bulls’ long-term future, but he’s having a rather impressive season and his devotion to Chicago is admirable. The Bulls are certainly heading into a rebuilding phase in the coming years, and though Gasol isn’t likely to be a part of the next truly successful Bulls team by the time they come around, he’s at least giving us something good to watch, for the most part, in the time being. His defense was a little suspect, and he led the team in turnovers with six, but he’s a vital piece of any chance at success this season.
  • The Heat are a changing team too. The days of the Big Three feel like a distant memory, and Miami is still in the process of figuring out where to go from there. Dwyane Wade is a shell of his former self, and a Chris Bosh return remains unclear, but they have players like Hassan Whiteside who might be reason enough to muster some excitement. Whiteside has turned into a fun player to watch, especially the way he can dominate the boards like he did last night. He was on nearly every defensive play, and 13 of his 16 total rebounds last night game on the defensive side of the court.  The problem for Miami is that their roster outside of Whiteside gets pretty old. Wade and Bosh, of course, but even their recent acquisition in Joe Johnson has a lot of mileage on him already. Though Johnson’s arrival in Miami has corresponded with wins, he’s not a long term piece of their future either.
  • Coming up: the Bulls will get two days of rest over the weekend before heading to Toronto on Monday night.

BULLet Points: Heat go into video game-mode, smoke Bulls

In the not so distant past, a Bulls-Heat matchup, even in the regular season, would have been on an epic scale worthy of the Greeks, but now, it looks more like if Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr. got into the ring together. So much that used to be great, but they are essentially just shells of their former selves. Especially with Jimmy Butler and Chris Bosh absent. The Bulls used this game as an opportunity to continue their slide, getting trounced 129-111 and dropping to 30-29 and out of the playoffs if the season ended today.

  • The Heat set a franchise shooting record last night (67.5%), riding the scoring of Hassan Whiteside, Joe Johnson, and even Luol Deng. I feel like I should start there because it could be viewed two different ways. The optimist in me wants to say that shooting that well is just hard to beat, and on the bright side, the Bulls put up 111 points of their own. But the pessimist wants to acknowledge the fact that not so long ago, the Bulls were known for their stifling defense, and 129 points would just never happen. Truth be told, it’s probably a mixture of both things.
  • Jimmy Butler’s absence is very, very hard to overcome. Butler has not played in nearly a month, and he is still probably about a week away. The Bulls have gone 4-7 in his absence, and on a team not built at all to survive the loss of such a key player with their lack of real depth, his continued absence will only mean more losses.
  • Derrick Rose is really like the flirty ex-girlfriend who just keeps us hanging on to the past when the best part of what we had was probably over before we were ready to admit it to ourselves. With his team-leading 17 points, Tuesday’s game was a great example of the glimpses of what Rose can do when he is still his best self. Moves like this remind us of the MVP player who dominated the NBA not that long ago:

  • The Bulls had a whopping seven players score in double digits against the Heat (which would normally nearly guarantee a win, but as I said earlier, allowing 67.5% from the field and 129 points pretty much negates whatever your offense does).
  • The mild resurgence of Mike Dunleavy has been interesting to follow. Since his return about a month ago, he has played consistently in about half of the minutes of those games, and has posted a +/- that has typically stayed well on the plus side of the ledger. Last night he was among the double digit scorers with 10 points, chiefly on a pair of three pointers.
  • Dwyane Wade was nearly overshadowed by the nights that Whiteside and Johnson had for the Heat, but he tallied 18 points himself to go with seven assists and two rebounds. Like Rose, Wade’s best days are behind him, but he can still put together an impressive night.
  • Coming up: the Bulls will stay in Florida to take on the Orlando Magic tonight.