VIDEO: Highlights from games played Nov. 3
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Butler calls out Bulls’ lack of defense; Rose not fretting offensive slump — Chicago is 3-2 after last night’s 130-105 drubbing in Charlotte at the hands of the Hornets, and even after it, to most the Bulls remain a solid contender in the East. But don’t go telling that to Chicago Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler. He blasted the team’s defense after the Charlotte loss, calling out a problem area for the Bulls that first reared its head in the preseason. Nick Friedell of ESPN.com has more:
Jimmy Butler saw this coming. He could sense in the way the Chicago Bulls have been playing lately that his team was destined for a defensive clunker. But few, if any, figured the Bulls could play as poorly as they did in a 130-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night.
“We ain’t been playing no defense,” a frustrated Butler said after the game. “Other teams have just been missing shots to tell you the truth, to be honest. [Shoot] we score enough points, that’s not the problem. But when you don’t stop nobody, they put up 130 or whatever they did, we got to nip that in the bud now because that’s not winning basketball. It will never be winning basketball here and it never has been winning basketball here. We’ve always prided ourself on playing hard and not being pretty. Tonight, we were pretty, we were soft. Got our asses whipped.”
As angry as Butler was after the game, that’s how surprised Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg seemed after the destruction had come to an end.
“I’m shocked because we had a great shootaround this morning,” Hoiberg said. “We were as energetic in shootaround as we’ve been all year and I guess I’ve been around long enough to know that doesn’t always carry over, but I loved our energy and spirit in shootaround. Obviously that did not carry over into the game tonight.”
The difference in answers between Butler and Hoiberg is noteworthy. Both men acknowledge that their team played terribly and lacked the right amount of effort, but Butler saw something that his new coach either didn’t see or didn’t want to acknowledge publicly.
“I think the root comes from everybody that can score on the roster,” Butler said. “When you got guys that can put the ball in the basket they want to play basketball and try to outscore teams, instead of trying to get more stops than that other team. We ain’t never going to have a problem scoring because everybody knows all the freedom that we get on offense.”
But what can’t get lost in that comparison is that the Hornets, a team that came into the game with an 0-3 record, shot the lights out of the ball. They shot 51.6 percent from the field, 60.9 percent from the beyond the arc (14-for-23) and 95.7 percent from the free-throw line (22-for-23). They became just the fourth team since 2013 to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, 60 percent from the 3-point line and 90 percent from the free-throw line in a single game.
The concerning part for Hoiberg and the Bulls is that they got outworked all night, a trait rarely seen in the Thibodeau era. They were out-rebounded 52-33 and beat them up and down the floor all night.
“It was a complete domination from the tip,” Hoiberg said. “And they just had their way with us. We didn’t have any fight, no resolve, we didn’t try and go back at them. We just kind of accepted it tonight.”
“Effort,” Butler said. “Effort will fix all of that on the defensive end. It’s all if you want to do it or not, to tell you the truth. I think we got guys capable of it. I think we focus too much on offense a lot of the time. Not most of the time, a lot of the time. And we forget about what you got to do on the other end of the floor. Speaking for myself, speaking for a lot of guys on this team, we got to guard. That’s where it’s got to start for us. We got to be the dogs that everybody in Chicago knows we are, we’ve always been. Just some hard-playing guys that play harder than everybody.”
The other component of Chicago’s loss last night was the play of point guard Derrick Rose, particularly his lack of offense. He finished with four points on 2-for-8 shooting in 24 minutes, marking his third straight game he has scored less than 10 points. As upset as Butler was about the defense, Rose was equally as cool about his struggles and said he expects to bounce back soon. ESPN.com’s Nick Fridell has more on that, too:
Tuesday’s 130-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets marked the first time in Rose’s eight year NBA career that the former MVP scored in single digits in three straight games, according to ESPN Stats and Information. When asked what he had to do to get his offense going, Rose remained steadfast in the belief he has in himself.
“Nothing,” he said. “I’m not worried about my offense. It’s all about conditioning, running, getting my body in shape, getting used to moving around. All the other stuff like offensive looks and all that, that’s going to come.”
For their part, Bulls officials remain outwardly confident that Rose is just rounding his game back into form after missing almost all of training camp after the orbital fracture.
“Yeah, we gotta keep working on it, and I think that’s the biggest thing, getting him reps,” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You know, again, he basically had the first 20-25 days off, and then came back. The first game he came back he was great with the pace against Dallas. We gotta get him back to playing that way.’’
Hoiberg believes Rose simply needs more time with his teammates on the floor.
“Conditioning is part of it, but I think a big thing for Derrick is just getting his rhythm back,” Hoiberg said. “I understand, it’s going to take some time, but again, hopefully we’ll bounce back with a good solid effort in practice tomorrow, and hopefully that carries over to Thursday [against Oklahoma City].”
“This is the first time we ever looked like this as a unit,” Rose said. “It seemed like everybody was off their square and the only thing you can do from it is learn. But as far as my performance, I love the way that I pushed the ball. Trying to get my conditioning under me, my legs under me a little bit more and wait til everything heals.”
VIDEO: BullsTV looks back at Chicago’s loss in Charlotte
No. 2: Mudiay motivated by Lakers passing on him in Draft — At the 2015 NBA Draft, Emmanuel Mudiay was a top 10 pick … but he had to wait until the Denver Nuggets took him No. 6 to reach that goal. The Los Angeles Lakers held the No. 2 pick and passed on him to take Ohio State standout (and fellow point guard) D’Angelo Russell. Before last night’s Nuggets-Lakers showdown in L.A., Mudiay opened up about how he felt slighted by the Lakers and responded to some criticism Lakers coach Byron Scott threw Mudiay’s way, too:
Hence, Mudiay acknowledged the recent draft proceedings provides more than just a media-driven storyline for when the Lakers (0-3) host the Nuggets (1-2) tonight at Staples Center.
“They passed up on me; that’s definitely a motivation,” Mudiay told Los Angeles News Group after morning shootaround at West Chester High School. “They took another point guard ahead of me. I’m a point guard. So I guess they saw something in [Russell] that they didn’t see in me.”
Lakers coach Byron Scott offered an honest assessment following Monday’s practice on what he didn’t see in Mudiay during two pre-draft workouts in Los Angeles.
“I didn’t think he was a true point guard,” Scott said of Mudiay. “I didn’t think he was a guy who made great decisions when we saw him and had him here. I thought that was something he would have to learn to do to run that position.”
Scott still predicted Mudiay “was going to be pretty good” and described him as “pretty athletic” with a “little edge.” But as a reporter relayed Scott’s assessment to Mudiay, the Nuggets’ rookie guard looked down at the ground as he listened intently to every word.
“That’s another human’s opinion,” Mudiay said. “I’m not worried about him. I just have to worry about what I do and worry about the Denver Nuggets.”
It remains too small of a sample size to provide any definitive conclusions regarding the Russell-Mudiay comparisons. But so far, Mudiay has produced more than Russell per game in points (12.7, 9.7) and assists (5.3, 1.7). But shooting accuracy has become an area of weakness for both Russell (36.7 percent) and Mudiay (33.3 percent). Mudiay also has averaged 6.3 turnovers per game, more than the 1.7 turnovers Russell has averaged per contest.
That prompted Denver coach Mike Malone to describe Mudiay as “somewhat inconsistent.” Malone added that Mudiay has shown “flashes of his potential” and “other flashes where he’s a 19-year-old rookie who didn’t play in college.” Mudiay withdrew his commitment at Southern Methodist University and played for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. There, he averaged 7.7 points on 54.5-percent shooting, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
“We still know he’s going to be a hell of basketball player because of how hard he works, how much he cares and the size, strength and physical tools that he has,” Malone said of Mudiay. “Tonight, hopefully he’ll have another opportunity to go against another point guard who was taken before him and show why he’s our point guard of the future.”
No. 3: Reports: Grizzlies interested in trading for Chalmers — Just a week or so into the season and we’ve got our first trade buzz of 2015-16. As was first broken by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein yesterday, the Memphis Grizzlies reportedly have some interest in trading for former Miami Heat starting point guard Mario Chalmers. It’s not exactly blockbuster stuff, mind you, but the Grizzlies are off to a so-so start and the Heat are as well, especially after last night’s loss to the visiting Atlanta Hawks. Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald explains why Chalmers is of interest to Memphis:
The Grizzlies are reportedly looking to find a spark after being blown out by the Cavs and Warriors to start the season and are disappointed in the play of 33-year-old current backup Beno Udrih.
By trading Chalmers (he’s making $4.3 million this season) the Heat could not only slice its luxury-tax bill, but find a way to get more playing time for second-year pro Tyler Johnson and rookie Josh Richardson, who was finally active for the first time Tuesday against the Hawks with Gerald Green (illness) out.
Chalmers declined comment before Tuesday’s game, saying he would be available after the game.
Coach Erik Spoelstra has been very complimentary of the way Johnson has played this season, and the way he has been unselfish about his minutes.
“He’s the epitome of coming in every day with an approach to get better,” Spoelstra said Monday after practice of Johnson, an undrafted free agent the Heat signed last January from their D-League affiliate. “It hasn’t been overnight. It’s been a year and change of consistent focused work every single day — in our D-League, in our training camps, pre-practices. He’s earned the confidence of this coaching staff, but more importantly of his teammates.
“When he gets his number called he makes the most of his opportunity without having expectations or entitlement for more even though you can make the case that he’s earned it.”
Teammate Chris Bosh said Johnson played “great basketball” in Sunday’s come-from-behind win over the Rockets and praised his energy and defensive ability.
“In think in the offense, he’s getting a lot more comfortable making plays for other guys,” Bosh said. “We know he can score on his own. He’s very talented doing that. But the next step is always getting other guys open shots, especially at that point guard position. He’s been doing an excellent job.”
No. 4: Whiteside’s game continues to grow in 2015-16 — One of the top stories of a season ago was how the Miami Heat plucked Hassan Whiteside from the NBA D-League and how he almost immediately became a key cog in their future. Some questioned Whiteside’s meteoric rise and whether or not he could continue such output in a full season with defenses fully prepared for his skillset. So far this season, though, Whiteside is answering those critics with play that may surpass what he did in 2014-15. Michael Wallace of ESPN.com has more:
Constantly shifting between Alonzo Mourning‘s prodding and Dwyane Wade‘s praise is a promising player who holds the key to unlocking the Heat’s true potential this season. It’s largely predicated on Whiteside’s progress. And that improvement continued even in defeat on Tuesday, as Whiteside made 11-of-12 shots and finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the Heat’s 98-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Through four games, Whiteside is shooting 76.3 percent (29 of 38) from the field, which is the best four-game start of any NBA player since the 1986 season, according to BasketballReference.com. If last season was about Whiteside showing flashes of breakout potential, then this season revolves around the 26-year-old becoming consistently dominant in what technically is his fourth NBA season. That process starts with deliberately stringing together games when the Heat can rely on his contributions.
“His conditioning level was great, as you can see,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, as he drew on one of the few positives from the Heat’s otherwise lethargic performance on Tuesday. “He made some plays at the end of the offense when we got stuck. That’s where a lot of his offense came from, either on put-backs or end-of-our-possession post-ups, and he was very efficient in those situations.”
The chemistry between Whiteside and Wade, particularly on pick-and-roll sets that have resulted in dunks for the athletic center or floaters for the crafty veteran, has been a priority for both players this season. Since he sputtered through the opener with four points and six rebounds in 20 minutes against the Hornets, Whiteside delivered 11 points, nine rebounds and six blocks against Cleveland and a career-high 25 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks against Houston.
Entering Tuesday’s game against the Hawks, Wade shed light on recent conversations with Whiteside about how effective the two can be when they execute in the paint. For Wade, getting a screen from Whiteside at the top of the key, then lobbing the ball high to Whiteside for dunks, brought back memories from a decade ago.
“He basically told me, ‘This is how I used to get a lot of lobs to Shaq,'” Whiteside said of Wade, who partnered with O’Neal for Miami’s first title in 2006. “I just kind of listened to that and try to do it that way. It’s crazy. I remember watching them in high school. Now I’m playing with him. Who didn’t watch Shaq and D-Wade? I was practicing on a little hoop outside, but it’s crazy that it’s actually happening.”
But for Wade to even mention Whiteside in the same sentence when referring to O’Neal and Mourning is an indication of the expectation level the Heat have set for their rising center.
“I’m just trying to get Hassan to understand that, and know that the game can be very deadly,” Wade said of the impact Whiteside can have on both ends of the court. “He showed no emotion when I said that. But for him, I think it’s a compliment. I played with two Hall of Fame centers, with Alonzo and also with Shaquille. For him to know that I’ve done it before with those guys, and this is the recipe for success, just follow the blueprint. No reason to change nothing up.”
The search for chemistry continues with a starting unit of Wade, Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng that has yet to find a collective comfort zone or preferred pace.
But Bosh has seen steady strides in Whiteside’s approach to the season. A day after Whiteside’s breakout game against Houston, Bosh was more thrilled to talk about his work at the free throw line after practice, where Whiteside claimed to have made 46-of-50 attempts from the line in an effort to correct his struggles there during games.
“Free throws have been a huge deal for him, so get him a prize,” Bosh joked earlier this week of Whiteside, who is shooting just 55.6 percent from the foul line. “I’m going to go take him to get a Happy Meal. Hassan knows, man. He knows what he’s capable of doing. He’s starting to figure out where his spots are. If he gets there, we’re going to get him the ball, and he can take advantage of all of that stuff.”
Whiteside’s stock is rising right along with his confidence. This week marks the first time in his NBA career that Whiteside has scored at least 20 points in consecutive games. And it comes at the start of what shapes up as a seismic season for Whiteside, who is earning just $981,348 in the final year of a two-year deal with the Heat after arriving last December from the D-League.
Amid an impressive start to the season, consistency is his focus. Currency comes in the form of constructive chats with mentors.
He embraces the attention he commands on and off the court.
“They’re double-teaming me a lot more than they did last year,” Whiteside of the defenses he is facing. “I’m just trying to impact that game. If it’s not points and rebounds, it’s blocks. I try to affect the game in something, and try to help us win games.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: According to a report, the Washington Wizards are a ‘legitimate threat’ to sign Kevin Durant next summer … So, Kobe Bryant recently said he thinks he sucks right now. Well, LeBron James isn’t about to believe any of that … Terrence Ross got that extension from the Toronto Raptors because the front office believes in him as a person and in his potential … The folks at Bovada have revealed which NBA coaches are on the hottest seats … The Chicago Bulls are looking to get in on the trend of having their own NBA D-League team … Good question to ponder this morning: will the Golden State Warriors win 70 games this season? … Evan Fournier is just going to play this season and not worry about the contract extension he didn’t get from the Magic …
ICYMI(s) of the Night: We love good footwork in the post around here. If you love it, too, you’ll like this nifty up-and-under move Luis Scola put on the Mavs …
VIDEO: Luis Scola shakes and bakes
… and speaking of post play, Andre Drummond continues to put in work in this young season …
VIDEO: Andre Drummond has 29 points, 25 rebounds vs. Pacers