Tag Archives: Rajon Rondo

Note-A-Bulls: Rondo shines as Bulls take commanding 2-0 series lead over Celtics

After a surprising game one victory, the Chicago Bulls looked to earn a commanding 2-0 lead on the No.1 seed Boston Celtics. It’s safe to say that stealing one game in Boston is already a huge positive for the Bulls, but with a chance to put a chokehold on a potential NBA Finals team, the Bulls had a great opportunity to make even more noise than they did in Game 1.

Boston began the game on a 7-0 run, with star point guard Isaiah Thomas scoring five of the team’s first seven points. However, that was the best part of the quarter for Boston. After former Celtic Rajon Rondo hit a short jumper to give the Bulls an 11-10 lead, Chicago got hot. The Bulls went on a 14-5 run throughout the middle of the first quarter. However, despite the extremely promising start, these are the 2016-17 Chicago Bulls. In the last two minutes of the quarter, the Celtics cut the Bulls lead to five, with the box score reading 31-26 in favor of the Bulls.

Boston’s hot end to the second quarter continued early on in the second quarter. After Jae Crowder made a layup from Marcus Smart, Boston tied the game at 36. However, the Bulls did not let Boston’s large run that stretched across the end of the first and early into the second break their spirit. They were able to push their lead back to ten, after Boston missed seven consecutive shots. Robin Lopez (Yes, Robin Lopez) continued to take advantage of Boston’s poor rebounding. It was assumed that Lopez would have a decent series, but no one saw what he is doing. At the 4:50 mark in the second, Lopez had eight points and four rebounds, shooting 80 percent from the floor. The great play didn’t stop there. Boston took at timeout at the 4:50 mark. However, right after the timeout, the Bulls pushed their lead to eleven off a great breakout pass by Rajon Rondo. Boston finally registered a field goal for the first time in five minutes after Crowder hit a three to cut the lead back to eight. The Bulls held strong as the half closed out, keeping their lead at eight. Rondo (Yes, Rondo) was leading the way for the Bulls. He finished the half with a vintage Rondo stat line, with eight points, nine assists and seven rebounds. On plays where Rondo could help the Bulls create a shot, they shot 59 percent from the floor. On plays where he wasn’t involved, they only shot 38 percent. The Bulls did a great job in the first half taking care of the basketball, as they only had four turnovers.

The third quarter started out promising for Boston, but the Bulls continued to keep their foot on the gas. The Boston crowd was doing everything and anything to push their beloved Celtics to break out and get a lead. Al Horford, who only had three points in the first half, began the scoring with a strong dunk to try and get that crowd up. However, you could just see we were in for a fist fight. Lopez had all six of the Bulls points to start the quarter, keeping their lead at one at the 8:10 mark. The good play continued for the Bulls, as once Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade returned to the floor, they went on a 15-6 run to put their lead back to ten. That run would continue, as after a Boston timeout at the 4:56 mark, the Bulls scored nine unanswered before Boston finally found a basket to cut the Bulls lead to twelve. As the minutes shrunk, the Bulls continued to stand tall. Michael Carter-Williams made a surprise appearance into the game, after Jerian Grant looked lost on an offensive possession. Jimmy Butler was barking at Grant for a good five seconds. After three, the Bulls led 86-75. Boston, with twelve minutes to go, needed a push early in the fourth if the Bulls weren’t going to steal Game 2.

The fourth quarter started how you’d expect it would, the Bulls started out OK. Again, Boston was searching for everything and anything to get their crowd loud and make a push to get the lead. Kelly Olynyk sunk a three at the 10:04 mark, cutting the Bulls lead to nine. Fred Hoiberg made a smart decision, by taking a timeout immediately after the three. The last thing the Bulls needed was to let the Boston crowd back into this game. As the minutes shrunk, the intensity of the game certainly increased. You could see Boston fighting on every possession, but not getting the result they wanted. The Bulls continued to keep their foot on the gas and stand tall. At the 6:01 mark, the Bulls earned their largest lead of the night of 16, after Rondo registered his 14th assist of the game on an alley-oop to Cristiano Felicio. After that play, the Boston faithful finally seemed to go quiet. As a result, the Bulls were able to slow the game down, and wind down the clock. Eventually, that clock hit 0:00, and the Bullsß earned a 2-0 lead on the Celtics. Wade finished the game as the leading scorer, with 22 points. However, it was Rondo and Lopez that anchored this win. Rondo finished one assist shy of a triple-double, and Lopez finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, shooting an astounding 73 percent from the floor.

What a bizarre first week of the playoffs for the City of Chicago. I don’t know what’s happened, but somehow this is working. The Celtics are one of the weaker No.1 seeds you’ll see, but nobody saw this. Nobody saw Rajon Rondo dancing with triple-double numbers, or Robin Lopez averaging a double-double. However, these things have happened, and your Chicago Bulls lead 2-0 in a series that nobody thought they had a chance in. The Bulls can’t take their foot off the gas heading into Game 3, as Boston is going to do everything to steal one back at the United Center and make this a series. However, one thing is for sure. The UC is going to be a “sea of red” on Friday night.

Up Next: The Bulls return to the UC Friday night vs. the Celtics where there is sure to be a raucous crowd for this now-surging team.

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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: A blown 4th quarter lead leaves the Bulls on the outside looking in of Eastern Conference playoffs

In a game that had tons of presage hype, the actual contest itself didn’t fail to deliver, unfortunately it was the Toronto Raptors gobbling up the good side of the headlines after the Bulls lost to Toronto for the first time in 12 games 122-120 in OT. After the unfortunate passing of one of the great GMs in NBA history, Jerry Krause, mastermind behind the 90s Bulls dynasty all of yearn for, there was still an important game to be played.

Sitting a game and a half back of the 8th seeded Heat, the Bulls were playing in a tough arena against a good team, albeit one that the Bulls hadn’t lost to since New Year’s Eve 2013 in the Raptors. After 3 1/2 quarters, it appeared as if the Bulls would pick up a marquee road win and continue to terrorize the confused Raptors. But then, with 6:39 left in this one and the Bulls up a comfortable 15, DeMar DeRozan showed up and the Bulls forgot out to put the Ball through the cylinder.

The result, the Bulls shooting just 3/20 from the field over the next 11+ minutes of play including overtime, in a stretch that saw them score just six points over a full quarters worth of time. Give Toronto credit, they put the pressure on the Bulls with aggressive play and by hitting their shots to force the Bulls to tighten up.

The aftermath of this one is just as ugly as the game itself. The Bulls now sit in 10th place in the East, 2 games back of the Heat, with just 11 games remaining on their schedule. Robin Lopez will most likely be suspended due to a fight with Serge Ibaka we will take a look at later. And finally, adding injury to insult, Cristiano Felicio, the Bulls back-up to Lopez, went down hard on his tail-bone in the 4th and appeared to be in a considerable amount of pain so missed games for him are not out of the question. The Bulls will need a quick and decisive turnaround to put this game behind them if they want to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoffs.

 

  • The reason the Bulls had such a large lead late was due in part to the incredible play of Rajon Rondo. The Kentucky product had an astounding first half scoring 19 points on 7/8 shooting including a shocking 3/4 from deep. Rondo also added five dimes and even got to the line in the first two frames. Frankly put, this was the best half of basketball Rondo played all year.
  • Instead of creating spacing issues in this offense, Rondo was able to create space for those around him. Due to his prolific shooting effort, he was able to suck defenders into the lane with him as he either found a back door cutter or kicked it out for an open three. This is the man the Bulls front office was hoping for when they signed the veteran guard away from the Kings this past off-season.
  • Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and Rondo’s night was no different. He ended up shooting just 2/8 after the break and committed two vital turnovers to fuel the Raptors come back. Rondo’s rise and fall in this one embodies what this game, and season, have turned into for this once proud franchise.
  • Jimmy Butler did everything he could to prevent a meltdown in this one. Butler ended the night with an impressive line of 37 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists to go with an impressive 12/14 from the charity stripe. 24 of those points came after the second quarter, as Butler seemed to be the only Bull attempting to close out this game with any sense of urgency. Unfortunately, as we all know, that was not enough as his tough jumper towards the end of regulation came up short forcing the Bulls into an overtime they would not prevail in.
  • The Sportscenter highlight of the night came not from any basketball being played on the court, but rather, a scrap that broke out after a missed shot. Robin Lopez appeared to accidentally stumble into Serge Ibaka after the forward grabbed a rebound. Ibaka then appeared to give an elbow into RoLo’s back. The two proceeded to get up close and personal, both just missing each other in big swings at the others expense. The two players got ejected, and with Felicio’s injury less than a quarter later, the Bulls were left extremely thin in the front court.
  • The Raptor’s star of the game as hands down DeMar DeRozan who finished with a line of 42 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. While DeRozan attempted a staggering 38 shots, his playmaking in the fourth quarter is what lead to the Raptors to a 34-19 edge in the period to stretch this game into the extra frame. With fellow backcourt mate Kyle Lowry out an extended period of time, DeRozan has been forced to step up the workload and has done brilliantly to keep the Raptors n a top 4 position in the East.
  • Up Next: the Bulls face what feels like a do or die game at home against the Pistons on Wednesday night.

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls secure much-needed win over Hornets 115-109

Playing back-to-back road games, the Bulls entered Charlotte on a sore note after getting thrashed the day before by Brad Stevens’ Celtics to extend the losing streak to five games. Yet despite their struggles, the Bulls had every right to come out hungry Monday night, wanting to keep the Milwaukee Bucks and the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference within grasp.

Hoiberg would give Rondo the start over Grant, accompanied by Wade, Butler, Portis, and Lopez. For the Hornets, it was Kemba, Lamb, Zeller, Williams, and Kidd-Gilchrist. Starting off the game, the Bulls looked ready to move on from a miserable preceding week. Just halfway into the quarter, they managed to net 20 points and jump out to an early lead.

Up 20-15, the Bulls surrendered eight straight points to the Hornets. Unexpectedly though, they finished the quarter on a 16-1 run, up 36-24 after 12 minutes. With the Hornets ready to rally, the Bulls were able to respond to defensive errors, maintaining a 10-point lead through the first five minutes of the 2nd. After some back-and-forth action, the Bulls kept the Hornets in check, taking their earlier 10-point lead with them into the locker rooms at halftime, up 58-48.

Predictable as always, the Bulls started off the 2nd half looking as if the teams’ roles had reversed. Within three minutes, the Hornets had cut the lead to three points and had it down to one point less than 60 seconds later. Despite the Hornets’ momentum, the Bulls continued to hold them off. After again letting them get to within a point of tying the game, the Bulls were able to stay up four by the six-minute mark in the 3rd. After two Zeller free-throws and a Frank Kaminsky lay-in, things were squared up 69-69 with just over five left in the quarter. From there on out though, the Bulls would take over and pull ahead 87-77 with three quarters in the books.

Again, the Hornets fought back in the final quarter, pulling to within four by the six-minute mark, looking poised to finally take the lead back. However, the Bulls would maintain their poise on this night. Ahead just three in the closing minutes, Jimmy Butler and Denzel Valentine made their free throws to put the game out of reach and give Chicago the 115-109 win in Charlotte.

  • Wade and Butler were each 8-15 from the field, each making all but one of their free throws. Both men finished the night with 23 points, while Butler helped the cause with 11 assists to get the double-double.
  • Taking advantage of the opportunity, Rondo scored a much-needed 20 points, also 8-15 from the field. Along with Butler’s impressive passing, Rondo was able to get six assists of his own and seven boards.
  • Off the bench, Mirotic turned in a much-needed performance. Going 8-16 from the field (5-12) from downtown, the big man netted 24 points in 29 minutes of action, while also grabbing 11 rebounds to get a double-double.
  • In 28 minutes of playing time, the rookie Valentine was able to add 11 points and five rebounds. Cameron Payne was 0-6 from the field in limited playing time, including 0-4 from downtown.
  • While the Hornets did shoot slightly better from the field, just 7-29 from beyond the arc didn’t help their cause. Losing the rebound and assist battle didn’t help, as the Bulls were able to match their impressive free-throw shooting.
  • Kidd-Gilchrist and Lamb and Walker all scored 20+ points, while Williams dominated the glass with 18 rebounds. The bench, however, could only contribute 16 points with some poor shooting efforts.
  • Next Up: the Bulls host the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, looking to squeeze back into the playoff picture.

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls continue dominance over Raptors with 11th straight win

The Bulls won 10 straight against the Toronto Raptors coming into tonight. Having lost three straight, including blowout losses to the Suns and Timberwolves to send them three games under 0.500, they desperately needed to make this their 11th straight win against the Raps, especially since this was their first home game after a six-game road stint. Given the Bulls’ habit of losing to sub-0.500 teams and showing up to play against stronger competition, maybe we could have predicted this. Other than a sustained second half run made by the Raptors, the Bulls led this one by 15 to 20 points for most of the game and avoided losing their fourth straight, topping the Raps 105-94 and moving to 27-29 on the season.

  • With Dwyane Wade out (sprained wrist), the Bulls reserves had to step up. They helped them take a 24-18 lead to the end the first period, including some good defense by Cristiano Felicio, and a corner three from Bobby Portis (What’s that? Some first quarter action for BP?). His time was short-lived, however, as he only ended with 10 minutes. That said, in his short time, he had six points and three rebounds with a +7 to show for his time on the court. Felicio had himself a nice game as well, and was crucial in the win. He was in the right place at the right time on defense (a testament to his own work ethic), and was a presence on the offensive side. He got 26 minutes and a +12, including 10 points on 4-6 shooting and six rebounds with two steals.
  • Jimmy Butler was finally a presence on defense. Seems like he’s been absent of late, but maybe that’s just perception. He was all over the hardwood tonight, disrupting the Raptor’s game plan by closing passing lanes and securing four steals. He did have four turnovers himself, but he more than made up for it on the other end with 12 assists. That’s an unusually high number for Jimmy, but it seemed his shot wasn’t working and he made the necessary adjustments. He didn’t make many baskets, but he didn’t shoot too many, either. JB was 2-10 from the field tonight, but managed to get to the line 19 times and connected on 15 of them, good for 19 total points in an expanded 37 minute role due to the injuries.
  • Rajon Rondo had a small stretch were he played like a real leader and came alive in the second quarter with 10 points. He was working with the younger guys, and was decisive on offense, and even hit a couple threes. He cleaned it up a little for a while, not making any egregiously bad passes or decisions, but then had five turnovers when it was all said and done, and only four assists to offset them. He ended with 24 minutes, and those 10 points would be his only offense for the game.
  • Doug McDermott was also big off the bench for the Bulls and came back from the dead with 20 points in 32 minutes on 61.5% shooting for a +13.
  • I don’t know who these Bulls are, but they were running tonight. They had 20 fast break points, including a nice sequence of defense-turned-offense in the first half to extend their first half lead to 19. With their bench contributions totaling 54 points, the Bulls were able to expand the lead to 23 at its peak.
  • The Raptors’ struggles continue against the Bulls. Their shooting woes from beyond the arc were part of the reason for their downfall tonight – just 5-20 from deep; they couldn’t hit their first three until the third quarter. It also didn’t help that they couldn’t get to the line as much as the Bulls. Just 24 attempts compared to the Bulls’ 35, resulting in a disparity from the charity stripe of 28-19. Coming off the bench, DeMar DeRozan seriously struggled. He connected on just five of his 19 shots – a big reason for many of the Raptors’ empty possessions.
  • Up Next: It doesn’t get any easier for these Bulls, hosting the second place Boston Celtics on Thursday. The Raptors head home to play the Charlotte Hornets.