Tag Archives: Nikola Mirotic

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls shock Boston in Game One 106-102 to steal home-court from East’s #1 seed

One win down. Three to go. In what shall henceforth be referred to as the Bobby Portis Game, the Chicago Bulls stunned the #1 seed Boston Celtics by a score of 106-102 in the TD Garden to take a 1-0 series edge in this best of 7 first round clash.

Bobby Portis had far and away his best game as a Bull, scoring 19 on 8/10 shooting and 3/4 from deep while grabbing nine boards, the Arkansas product kept the Bulls in this game when it looked like Boston may take hold of the game. Ending the game with a +/- of +12, Portis’ confidence shown through at a critical time in this game when Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade were unable to find their shot.

In a back and forth affair throughout, this was by no means the prettiest playoff basketball on display thus far. There were turnovers, 35 total, poor shooting, neither team shot above 43 percent, and just overall sloppiness in this contest. But that didn’t mean this one was without intensity.

After tragically losing his sister Chyna in a car accident on Saturday, Isaiah Thomas somehow managed to suit up in Game 1 for the Celtics and did not disappoint. Thomas ended the game with 33 points, six assists, and five rebounds on 10/18 shooting in an inspirational effort by the diminutive guard. Thomas was able to get in the lane at will against this Bulls squad until Butler switched on to him in the last half of the 4th quarter. From that point on, Thomas found it much tougher treading as the Celtic offense struggled down the stretch with their best player being locked down by the Bull’s superstar.

In a first half where both teams probably felt fortunate to be in the game, the Bulls went into the locker room with a slim advantage 48-46. The Bulls were shooting a measly 2/14 from beyond the arc and only 38 percent overall. Meanwhile, the Celtics had turned the ball over 11 times before the break and had surrendered a whopping 16 offensive boards already. While both teams were feeling fortunate to be in the game, they also both were probably shaking their head at the inability to create a double-digit lead due to the other teams poor play.

In the second half, the difference came down to bench productivity and one team having Jimmy Butler. Both those landed in favor of the Bulls, as on top of Portis, Jerian Grant and Cristiano Felicio each contributed positive minutes with Grant hitting a huge three late in the last frame.

After that, Jimmy Butler did what he does best, try to single handedly close out games for this inconsistent Bulls squad. Fortunately, he was able to do so. Scoring 23 of his 30 points after halftime, Butler stepped up when his team needed him most, knocking down some clutch contested treys while the game hung in the balance. His defense down the stretch on IT also proved critical in shutting down the Celtics the last five minutes.

While Sunday night was a rare bright spot for this organization over the past few years, it wasn’t without its reminders of why the Bulls secured the East’s 8th and final playoff seed. Nikola Mirotic was downright horrific in Game One. In 19 minutes, the forward scored just four points on a dreadful 1/9 from the field including 0/5 from three. His defense also showed little to be desired as his mere presence on the court put the Bulls at a disadvantage on both ends. The Bulls will need Mirotic to step up his game if they want to take three more in this series to pull the upset.

Additionally, while the Bulls somewhat solved their woes in the 4th quarter, they still struggled to close out the game. Thanks to a couple unforced turnovers by the Bulls, the Celtics received ample opportunities to come back in the final minute of play. If they hit one of their open threes in that final minute, we could easily be talking about another 4th quarter meltdown for Los Bulls. Fortunately that was not the case, but again, they need to tighten this thing up if they really are going to push the Celtics in this series.

As for the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas was great. His effort was nothing short of herculean given what he went through over the last 24 hours. Unfortunately, there were times when he seemed to be on an island out there getting no help from his teammates. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley need to perform better than their 9/25 combined shooting night to take some of the pressure off of IT. Thomas ended the night with a +/- of +12 in 38 minutes of play. The Celtics can’t be that bad in the 10 minutes per game Thomas is on the bench, and with the bench combining for only 22 points, that was not the case on Sunday night.

Up Next: The Bulls will look to take a commanding 2-0 lead back to the UC on Tuesday night in TD Garden where the Celtics will be out for revenge.

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Note-A-Bulls: The Bulls battle back against Milwaukee, win 109-94, to get back in playoff picture

Looking to forget about a loss to the 76’ers in their last game, the Bulls drove up the road to take on the Bucks in Milwaukee Sunday. On the outside looking in, the Bulls looked to pick up a win over a team on the other side of the playoff bubble.

Working what he was dealt, Hoiberg went tall with Rondo, Butler, Zipser, Miortic, and Lopez. For the Hornets, it was Middleton, Brogdon, former Bull Tony Snell, Maker, and Antetokounmpo. The first quarter was an action packed one, with both teams scoring back and forth. Despite the 60 points scored in the quarter, the lead was never larger than four points for either team.

Down 31-29 to start the 2nd quarter, the Bucks began with a 12-2 run, to lead 43-31, just three minutes into the new quarter. After slowly chipping away at the Milwaukee lead, the Bulls made their move by scoring 9 straight in the final minutes of the half to even things at 52-52. From there, two Rondo assists to Lopez and Mirotic gave the Bulls a surprising halftime lead, 56-55.

Similar to the 1st quarter, the 3rd was competitive and close. Each team held small leads over one another, before the Bulls extended the margin to six points halfway six minutes into the half. For the final half of the quarter, the Bulls dominated, extending Milwaukee’s margin and ultimately grabbing a 91-79 lead for the final 12 minutes. Nikola Mirotic was extremely productive in the quarter, grabbing four rebounds and showing off his long-distance shooting. The Bucks looked to squander the Bulls’ lead in the quarter, but Chicago would have none of it. A quick 7-2 run put the Bulls up 98-81, continuing the offensive success. The Bulls would later grab a 20-point lead and never look back, finishing off the Bucks 109-94 on a solid offensive night.

  • As far as offense goes, the Bulls’ starting lineup illustrated their success; every player scored in double digits, with Zipser being the only one tallying less than 18. Here were the FG makes and attempts per player: Mirotic (6/9), Butler (8/13), Zipser (3/7), Lopez (9/13), and Rondo (8/11).
  • Once again, Rondo showed his value by grabbing 9 rebounds, dishing out 9 assists, and finishing the night with 18 points.
  • Off the bench, the reserves couldn’t quite emulate what the starters were doing. No one scored more than four points, and no player shot better than 33.33% from the field. Valentine played a very quiet 24 minutes, while Lauvergne saw 18 minuts of action.
  • Despite a little more help from the bench, the Bucks starters failed to knock down shots from the field. The team shot just 44%, despite a solid night from Greg Monroe and Antetokounmpo, 16 and 22 points respectively.
  • Despite starting, the young big man, Thon Maker, was given just nine minutes of action. Malcolm Brodgon logged 14 points in 30 minutes of action, continuing to show an ability to compete at the NBA level.
  • Next up: the Bulls host the Cavaliers on Thursday. Given their recent history, the matchup should be more promising than the stats would suggest.

Note-A-Bulls: Sixers embarrass the Bulls at the UC 117-107 thanks to Saric’s big night

While most of the country was focused on the Sweet 16 Friday Night, the NBA still offered a slate of 10 games. This included your Chicago Bulls, who faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center. Coming off an 18-point win Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, the Bulls hoped to earn their first “winning streak” since winning four straight back in February. This is a game the Bulls must win if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Despite the Bulls mediocre play, the UC was filled on Friday. Robin Lopez squared off against Richaun Holmes of Philadelphia, with Lopez winning the tip. Bulls basketball was on the air with Neil Funk and Stacey King. The first five minutes of the game were very much in the Bulls’ favor. They were able to jump out to a 16-6 lead, earning three assists on six field goals made. Nikola Mirotic started the game where he left off Wednesday, leading the Bulls early with seven points. However, the Sixers answered with going on a 6-0 run after they took a timeout at the 7-minute mark. This led Fred Hoiberg to take a timeout, hoping to break the Sixers’ run. Following the timeout, the Bulls jumped back out to an eight-point lead thanks to the work of Mirotic. Mirotic found Denzel Valentine for a three that hit nothing but net to give the Bulls that eight-point lead (26-18). However, the Sixers would answer the Bulls run (surprise). The quarter ended with the Sixers going on another 6-0 run, with the score 28-24. Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 11 points. He and Mirotic accounted for 21 of the Bulls 28 points.

The second quarter started out slowly for the Bulls. They started out the quarter two for seven and allowed the Sixers to get a six-point lead. That lead was cut down to as little as four, but the Bulls couldn’t regain the lead. Once Paul Zipser air-balled a three from a fairly good look, you knew things were about to get ugly. Sean Rodriguez, the backup point guard of the Sixers, was putting on a show. He helped Philly push their lead to nine, and had nine points in nine minutes played. The Bulls were letting the Sixers get to the basket at will, allowing 34 points in the paint at the 3:20 mark in the second quarter. At that stage in the game, the Sixers had 49 points. The minutes continued to shrink, and the Sixers lead continued to grow. After Rodriguez created his sixth assist of the game, the Sixers extended their lead to 17! Yes, the Philadelphia 76ers led the Bulls by 17 at the United Center. OK. Now that you read that again, let’s get back to the game. The final thirty seconds of the half were no different than anything else in the game thus far. At the end of the first half, the Sixers led 59-46, shooting an absurd 57.8 percent from the floor. Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 20 points. However, the only other Bull to be in double figures was Mirotic with 10.

The third quarter started out just how you thought it would. In the first two minutes of the quarter, the Sixers pushed their lead to 20. The point guards of the Sixers continued to cause trouble for the Bulls. T.J. McConell had four of the Sixers first four points in the quarter. It was getting so bad that Stacey King was comparing Rodriguez and McConell to John Stockton. This pathetic defense is just inexcusable against a team like the Sixers. With just under eight minutes to play in the third, the Sixers led by 22 POINTS, shooting 63 percent. The only bright spot was (take a wild guess) Jimmy Butler. However, Butler could only do so much. It was essentially one-versus-five. As a result, the score wasn’t in the Bulls favor. I would try and write something positive, but there was just no content. The Sixers continued to just shove their lead right down the Bulls’ throats. After three, the thrashing continued as the Sixers led 93-71. Butler had 31 of those 71 points. The Sixers had 66 (hey-hey!) points in the paint after the third.

The fourth quarter started out fairly well for the Bulls. They started out the quarter on a 9-4 run, which cut the lead down to 17. However, with only nine and a half minutes to play in the game, the Bulls would need to put on quite the show to make the entire comeback. The momentum was pushing in the Bulls favor. They continued to chip away at the Sixers’ lead, as they were able to cut it down to ten after Butler found Bobby Portis for a mid-range jumper. That assist was Butler’s eighth of the game, he was getting close to a double-double. However, this little spurt of momentum wasn’t enough. The Sixers did what they needed to do to not let the Bulls get back in the game and eventually came out with the win. The final score was 117-107. Butler finished with 36 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.

This game was no different than any other Bulls game this season when facing a bad team. They didn’t show up to play, they got down big, tried to come back, and eventually lost. They continue to just go in circles, showing no signs of change. It’s unacceptable to be down 26 points against a team with the resumé of the Sixers, let alone your home court. With the loss, the Bulls fall to 34-39 on the season and are two games back of the Miami Heat for the eight seed. The Bulls are off until Sunday, where they’ll look to bounce back against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls Fail To Spread Around Scoring, Fall To Pistons 102-91, Dropping Their 3rd Straight Game.

The Bulls were looking to turn the tide against their conference rival Detroit Pistons Tuesday night, after suffering 2 losses in a row to the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trailblazers. The Bulls welcomed the return of Rajon Rondo to the lineup tonight after his one game suspension. However it was not enough, as the Bulls again became one-dimensional, relying on Jimmy Butler to carry the team. This common narrative has bitten the Bulls over the last few years, as their lack of a diverse group of players who can score at will and create their own shots, has cost them a chance at truly competing in the Eastern Conference. NBA experts continue to say you need more than one star on a team to win a championship, and while Wade and Butler can “play” those roles, the inconsistency and unreliability of the two every night has Bulls fans frustrated.

  • The Bulls struggled out of the gate to create efficient scoring opportunities, as they we unable to penetrate the paint early. Once the ball reached the elbow; it was quickly kicked back out for an ill-advised 3-point or long-range 2 attempt that missed consistently.
  • Because the Bulls were unable to produce scoring from different areas of the court, they tried again to feed the ball to Nikola Mirotic. In 23 minutes of playing time, Mirotic only totaled 5 points, and was 2 of 7 from the field, 1 for 4 from behind the arc. The Montenegro native has been getting extended opportunities with the injury to Doug McDermott’s and off-nights for Dwyane Wade and has not been able to deliver on the promise of a scoring threat the Bulls were sold on when they drafted him in 2011. It may be time for Fred Hoiberg to give another scoring option a chance, as Mirotic has not been able to deliver so far this season.
  • The #3 ranked defense of the Detroit Pistons showed its muscle tonight, forcing the Bulls to shoot contested shots every chance they had.
  • When the Bulls were, however, able to break through the Pistons’ defense, the big-man game of Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Cristiano Felicio, yes, Felicio was efficient and impressive. The trio combined for 22 points and 24 rebounds and showed Bulls fans what it looks like to have a post presence, especially going up against one of the premiere centers in the league, Andre Drummond. Bulls’ fans that were used to watching Joakim Noah on offense have gotten a pleasant surprise from this “new” trio down low.
  • Gibson continued to impress tonight, recording a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
  • As halftime approached, the Pistons offense slowed, as the Bulls cut into the lead and trailed 51-44 at the break.
  • The Bulls started the second half strong and were able to score 7 unanswered points. At the 5:19 mark in the 3rd, the Bulls, who once trailed by 17, took their first lead of the night 62-61.
  • But as I wrote in the recap of the Bulls vs. Mavericks game, turnovers were the story again tonight. The Bulls ended the game “leading” the category 14-9, and midway through the 3rd, they had already given up 20 points on 11 turnovers.
  • The Bulls comeback was riding on the shoulders of their premier scoring option, and only scoring option of the night, Jimmy Butler. While Wade had a quiet 19 points, it was Butler who emerged as tonight’s star, totaling 32 points. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Bulls have been plagued by this “single-scoring option” offensive approach. While Hoiberg does not try to implement the “Butler-only” game plan each night, it is what the Bulls are left with, based on the talent they have, at this point in the season. Wade can contribute when needed, but it is not consistent. The only true shot-creating, constant scoring threat is Butler, and if the Bulls are going to advance in the Eastern Conference, they need more than one scoring weapon.
  • The Bulls continued to chip away but to no avail. Tobias Harris lead the way for the Pistons with 22 points, and Andre Drummond held his own in the paint with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
  • The story from 3-point land tonight showed again the lack of diverse scoring options for the Bulls. While the Pistons weren’t anything to write home about, shooting only 38.1 % from behind the arc, the Bulls shot a forgettable 13.3%, going 2 for 15.
  • With a healthy Dwyane Wade, Jerian Grant only saw 4 minutes of playing tonight, and Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine did not play. Hoiberg’s use of a shorter bench tonight proved ineffective, as the Bulls were unable to get enough scoring from their starters and role players that entered the game.
  • Up Next: The Bulls try to snap their 3-game losing streak as they square off against the San Antonio Spurs at home on Thursday night.

Note-A-Bulls: Cavs leave United Center empty handed after hard fought victory for the Bulls

On a chilly Friday night on the west side of Chicago, over twenty-thousand packed into the United Center to see the Bulls and Cavaliers square off for a key division game. As promised, LeBron James filled his half of the bet with Dwyane Wade and came to the UC in a full Cubs uniform. Both teams were coming off losses in their most recent match-ups, looking to regain momentum.

The teams assembled on the court, the Cavs sporting their all blue jerseys, and the Bulls in an atypical grey sleeve jersey. It was Tristian Thompson and Robin Lopez at center court, Lopez won the tip, and Bull basketball was on the air nationwide.

The first six minutes of the opening quarter were no different from how the Bulls typicalls begin games. A complete back and forth battle, with Taj Gibson starting off very strong. Taj had six points and three rebounds within the first six minutes of play. At the 6:07 mark, the Bulls had a one point lead as Wade hit a driving layup while going hard to the rim. The first quarter continued to march on, and the see-saw battle continued to progress. The typical subs made their way in, and after one the Cavs had a slim lead of 33-30.

The Cavs began the second quarter with an Iman Shumpert shot that wouldn’t go from twenty-one feet out, and the Bulls capitalized on the following possession with Jerian Grant hitting a routine layup. Then the King made his way back onto the court. After Grant hit the layup, the Cavs led 33-32. James returned to the court, and led the Cavs to go on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 40-32 at the ten-minute mark. However, the Cavs did not let the stoppage of play break their momentum. Channing Frye hit a big three to keep the Cavs lead at eight, with the score 47-39. However, after that three, the Bulls found their gear again. They were able to cut the Cavs lead to as small as one as the score was 54-53 after Lopez hit a short-range jumper. Just under one minute to go in the half, Taj Gibson got one of the biggest gift fouls that one will ever see. Kevin Love pretty much “Love tapped” his chest, and Taj laughingly went to the free throw line. The first half ended with a very high score, Taj Gibson continuing to lead the Bulls with eighteen points. Through two it was Cleveland 60, the Bulls 59. The Bulls were 0-7 from downtown, while the Cavs were shooting nearly fifty percent from three. However, this was promising considering that the score was only 60-59.

LeBron inbounded the ball to Kyrie Irving to begin the third, with Irving drilling a mid-range jumper. The Bulls continued to claw with the leaders of the East, as both teams came out strong to begin the third. They looked like they were slowly picking of some momentum, as they led by eight at the 7:30 mark and the Cavs had gone cold. Jimmy G. Buckets and Wade were hitting their stride as they had combined for twenty-five points. The Cavs took a timeout at the 5:45 mark after Robin Lopez hit a sky-hook turnaround shot, and the Bulls continued to keep their eight-point lead. As usual, a timeout proved to work well. Kevin Love drilled a three to start the Cavs next possession, and the Bulls lead was cut to five. The next possession was crucial, as the Bulls needed an answer. Rajon Rondo, out of all players, splashed a three for the corner and the lead was back to eight at just over three minutes left. With under two minutes to go in the third, Nikola Mirotic threw a floater to the rim and Jimmy Butler volleyball tapped the ball right into the basket. After three, the shootout continued, as the Bulls led 88-80. Taj leading Chicago with twenty-one points and nine rebounds, and LeBron leading the Cavs with twenty-three points and eight assists.

The Bulls began the fourth with a missed jumper by Wade from seventeen feet out. In the following possession, LeBron added to his assist total and found Channing Frye for an easy layup. The Bulls continued to maintain the sizable lead with excellent offense and good ball movement. Until (of course), Rajon Rondo made a poor pass and the Cavs capitalized on the fast break and hit a three to cut to the lead back to five. With just under six minutes to go, the Bulls struggled to close the door. However, after shooting 0-7 to start the game, Niko hit a little floater in the paint to put the Bulls back up seven. With just over two minutes to play, LeBron committed his third turnover in the quarter, and the Bulls were able to extend their lead to eight. ON THE NEXT POSSESSION, JAMES COMMITTED ANOTHER TURNOVER. Following that, the Bulls played perfect defense to force a shot clock violation. After a bit of scare within the final fifteen seconds, the Bulls were able to hang on and win 111-105.

With the win, the Bulls improved to 11-6. Not only is it nice to see the win-loss column have a plus margin of five, but this win over the Cavs must serve as a big momentum builder for Chicago. To get a win against a team that has had a chokehold on you for such a long period of time has to inspire the Bulls at least in some manner. However, the Bulls have hardly any time to bask in the victory. Once everyone is ready to leave the UC, the Bulls will hop on the charter and head to Dallas to take on the struggling Mavericks tomorrow night.