All Bull - Chicago Bulls
Fred Hoiberg and Kevin Ollie never made the playoffs with the Bulls. But on a night when those two former Bulls squared off as coaches in the NCAA Tournament, the current Bulls clinched a playoff spot.
The Bulls turned in a lackluster performance Friday and lost to Portland 91-74 at the United Center. But when New York lost at Phoenix later in the night, a playoff berth became official.
By the way, Ollie's Connecticut squad beat Hoiberg and Iowa State in the East regional semis. Some might say Hoiberg was at a disadvantage having lost one of his top scorers last week to a broken foot. I say he had more than enough to win with.
Since Stevenson guard Jalen Brunson is the son of former Bulls player and assistant coach Rick Brunson, this is an appropriate topic for All Bulls.
Brunson was spectacular in Friday's state semifinal loss to Whitney Young, scoring a state finals record 56 points, including 26 in the fourth quarter. The 6-4 junior guard hit 16 of 30 shots, 7 of 14 3-pointers and 17 of 23 free throws.
The Peoria Journal Star ran a photo from the game where Brunson appeared to be raising middle fingers to the crowd. Here is video of that moment late in the contest. Brunson swung his arms in frustration after a made 3-pointer was waved off due to a foul coming before the shot. Judge for yourself, but it didn't appear that he was gesturing at Whitney Young fans, as has been depicted by some.
Joakim Noah left the United Center before tip-off of Monday's game against Minnesota due to an illness. Noah has built a career-long streak with 16 straight double-figure rebound games.
This would have been a good matchup with Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, who ranks second in the league in rebounding at 13.0 per game. Also, Minnesota center Nikola Vucevic has averaged 22.5 points and 12 rebounds in his last four games.
Instead, the Bulls will start a front line of Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. After this game, they'll leave town for the six-game, ice-show road trip.
The Bulls' record for most consecutive double-figure rebound games is 43 by Dennis Rodman.
Another day, another injury for the Bulls.
Carlos Boozer will sit out Saturday's game against Atlanta at the United Center because of a sore right knee. Coach Tom Thibodeau said the injury occurred sometime during Thursday's win over Boston and an MRI exam was negative. Boozer did not practice on Friday.
The Bulls are down to two players who have played in all 32 games this season -- Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy.
Another storyline for this game is ex-Bull Kyle Korver trying to extend his NBA record streak of 102 straight games with a made 3-pointer.
It's not unusual for NBA players to stop by the opposing locker room after games, usually to greet former teammates.
Joakim Noah met some resistance, though, when he walked into the Oklahoma City locker room after Thursday's 107-95 loss. Noah was there to greet former Bull and fellow French speaker Thabo Sefolosha, no doubt. But he was stopped by a former enemy from Boston, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.
There were still players and reporters in the locker room at the time, so plenty of witnesses to the verbal exchange between Noah and Perkins. Anthony Slater from The Oklahoman sent this account:
Perkins: "They just let anybody in the locker room?"
Noah: "Come on, man."
Perkins: "I'm just asking."
Noah: "Come on, man."
Perkins: "Just let anyone in the locker room now?"
The Bulls officially signed point guard D.J. Augustin on Friday, a move that had been expected for a few days. He is expected to be in uniform for tonight's game at Milwaukee.
The Bulls host Augustin's old team, Toronto, on Saturday. He was waived by the Raptors to make room for the players acquired from Sacramento in the Rudy Gay trade.
Augustin, 26, wasn't playing much for Toronto. He appeared in 10 of 19 games, averaging 2.1 points. Not long ago, he was producing good numbers for the Charlotte Bobcats. During his third NBA season in 2010-11, he averaged 14.4 points and 6.1 assists.
The Bulls had yet another injury surprise waiting before Tuesday's game against Milwaukee at the United Center.
Center Joakim Noah will not play because of a knee contusion. He was out on the floor shooting baskets after Monday's practice, so it's unclear when this injury happened.
Luol Deng (sore left Achilles) and Jimmy Butler (turf toe) won't play tonight. If veteran point guard Mike James is available -- he's supposed to be recovered from a knee sprain -- the Bulls will have nine healthy players against the Bucks. Carlos Boozer is the only starter from the regular season opener who will be in the lineup tonight.
UPDATE: Luol Deng will not play vs. the Pistons. Taj Gibson is expected to start.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters at shootaround that forward Luol Deng is a game-time decision with a calf injury. The Bulls host Detroit on Saturday at the United Center.
Thibodeau initially did not mention Deng's injury, then Joakim Noah told reporters Deng might not play because of an Achilles injury.
Deng has been rolling lately. In the last five games, he averaging 27.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists and shooting 53.2 percent from the field.
If Deng can't play, the Bulls would presumably start Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell at the wing spots. Jimmy Butler is still not ready to return from a turf toe injury.
The Bulls have lost former MVP Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury. It's tough to take, but plenty of other NBA teams have endured some rotten luck. Some bounced back, other didn't. Here's a list of bad luck NBA teams of the past 30 years:
1984 Portland Trail Blazers
Bad luck: Chose injury-prone Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan in ’84 draft.
Outcome: Reached Finals in ’90 and ’92, but no titles.
1984-85 New York Knicks
Bad luck: After averaging 32.9 points, Bernard King played in just 6 games over the next two seasons because of knee injuries.
Outcome: Won the first draft lottery and selected Patrick Ewing.
1984-85 Indiana Pacers
Joakim Noah takes a ride on the NBA on ESPN recreational vehicle.