Chicago Bulls (9-17) vs. Charlotte Hornets (11-16)
NBC Sports Chicago, 7:00 p.m.
Bulls: Otto Porter Jr., Chandler Hutchison and Cristiano Felicio remain out. The Bulls have a number of other players listed on the injury report, but all the important guys are probable/available.
Hornets: Marvin Williams is out with knee soreness, while Nicolas Batum likely won’t play due to a hand injury. Malik Monk is probable with a finger injury.
This is the third time this season these two teams get a look at each other.
In the season opener, a Chicago Bulls team oozing with cautious fan optimism strolled into Charlotte only to lose 126-125. Hornets rookie PJ Washington decided to score 27 points in his NBA debut, including seven 3-point field goals, which was a record for a player in his first NBA game. A cool 35 points from Lauri Markkanen couldn’t offset the damage from Washington as this opening night loss really set the tone for how the season has transpired thus far.
A few weeks later the Bulls got their revenge. Fresh off a walloping at home from the Miami Heat, Zach LaVine went nuts to the tune of 49 points on 17-for-28 from the field, and he capped off his historic night leading an epic comeback. Down eight with 45 seconds left to play, a series of fortunate events culminated with a steal off an inbounds play and a LaVine miracle 3-point field goal as time expired to give the Bulls a 116-115 win.
If only the Chicago Bulls could play the Atlanta Hawks in every one of their 82 games this season.
They’d probably go 82-0. 72-10 at a minimum. Alas, that’s not how NBA scheduling works. The Bulls’ next opponent has played them competitively in both contests this season. Despite the 11-16 record, the Hornets are doing better than most anticipated in the first year of the post-Kemba Walker era.
Five of the Hornets’ six leading scorers are 25 years old or younger. The aforementioned PJ Washington is putting together a Rookie of the Year case with 12.2 points and 5.1 boards per game and is looking like a steal at No. 12 in the draft last summer based on these early returns. An even more pleasant surprise than Washington is point guard Devonte’ Graham. The 2018 second-round pick from Kansas is averaging 20 points and 7.6 assists per game and is probably having the best under-the-radar season of anybody in the NBA.
Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and to a lesser extent Marvin Williams aren’t doing much. It has truly been the young guys keeping this team somewhat respectable.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have had an interesting week. They’ve suffered two heartbreaking losses that essentially came down to final possessions, have had former players subtly throw some shade at the organization, and now there’s a rumor that Thaddeus Young will want out if his minutes don’t increase moving forward.
Anyway, the player who threw shade at Chicago this week (it’s Jabari Parker if you haven’t figured that out yet) said he wishes all the Chicago players could form a team together and play here. Which brings me to this question: if you were building a team with the best current Chicago-born players who are you putting in the starting five?
Off the top of my head: Derrick Rose, Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Jahlil Okafor, and Anthony Davis, right?
Can you guess who is No. 1 and No. 2 on the Bulls in player efficiency rating right now?
Denzel Valentine and Daniel Gafford, respectively. Mind blown.
Jabari Parker talking about his divorce with the Bulls with Eric Woodyard of ESPN.com.
“I just had to move on, but that never changed about how I feel about my city because I have more street cred than that organization, period.”