The Bulls went 2-1 this week! They had wins against the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers, and a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. They are doing their best to hang in there until the walking wounded are back to playing health. As it stands…
The big stories of the week all happened on Saturday night in the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game I had the privilege of attending (Thanks Johnboy and Teresi!). There were a lot of firsts on Saturday night; the Bulls wore their brand new City Edition uniforms for the first time, Ryan Arcidiacono made his first NBA start, and Jabari Parker won the game with a defensive play henceforth known as “The Block” (I’m sure no one else in the NBA has a claim to that title). History. And I bore witness.
First, and most importantly, the City Edition uniforms are pretty awesome. Black, with Chicago blue piping, and two bars of that same blue across the chest with the red city stars sandwiched between. It was like an alternate universe version of the Chicago flag.
Next, Ryan Arcidiacono started in place of the scuffling Cameron Payne. Not only did Archie replace Payne in the starting lineup, but all of the back up point guard minutes went to recent signee Shaquille Harrison. Could we have seen the last of Cameron Payne in a Bulls uniform?
Arcidiacono had a decent game, scoring a career high 15 points, with 4 rebounds, but, uncharacteristically, with only 2 assists. He led the team with a +/- of 11. Archie got off to a hot start, scoring 10 of those 15 points in the 1st quarter, but his offense fizzled as he battled foul trouble for the rest of the game. He might be starting for the Bulls but the officials are still treating him like a scrub.
The most memorable moment of the evening (more memorable than Zach LaVine’s 360 dunk, or his put back dunk off of a missed free throw) was The Block. I can remember it like it was yesterday…
There were 13 seconds left in the game. Our Bulls held the slimmest of leads over the hated Cleveland Cavaliers, 99-98. The Cavs were getting ready to inbound the ball and start the final possession of the game, when, from the Bulls bench, a commotion erupted. It was Coach Fred Hoiberg. God had sent him a vision. In that vision God told the coach to make a substitution. Hoiberg complied, pulling his rookie center Wendell Carter Jr out of the game, replacing the stalwart defender (he had blocked 3 shots that night) with Jabari “You don’t get paid to play defense” Parker (he had blocked 0 shots that night). The crowd was aghast, “What’s Hoiberg doing?” we muttered. And that was all we could muster before Cleveland inbounded the ball and started the cogs of history turning.
Time ticked slowly, inevitably, toward zero as the Cavs young rookie, Collin Sexton, pounded the ball at the top of the key. A shrug and a shuffle, Sexton took off down the lane. He was determined to get to the rim, and he did, with very little resistance from newly minted starter Ryan Arcidiacono. Sexton leapt, rising to the rim, rolling the ball off his fingers for what he hoped would be the game winning layup.
The ball ricocheted off the front of the rim, and a gasp went through the crowd. Could this be it? Did the Bulls just win? NO. Not just yet. Time still ticked off the clock and a body desperately flew through the air, flailing it’s arms at the ball as it bounced off the rim. It was none other than Cavalier bad boy, JR Smith, who someone on the Bulls (Jabari Parker) failed to box out. Smith tipped the ball back into the eager arms of Sexton, keeping it, and the hopes of Cleveland, alive.
Set on glory, the Cavalier’s rookie gathered himself and rose to the rim a second time, only this time he was met by Resistance. Resistance in the form of a mighty swat from Chicago’s own Jabari Parker. Jabari blocked the shot. He sent the ball to hell. He sent it halfway to the earths core. He sent it back to Cleveland clothed in shame and failure. It was Jabari Parker’s defense that saved the day. It was Jabari Parker’s single hand that beat the Cleveland Cavaliers: The Block. It was Jabari Parker who rewarded Hoiberg’s faith.
And I was witness.
Denzel Valentine’s ankle sprain was supposed to sideline the backup ball handler for a couple weeks to start the season. After those couple weeks came and went, his injury turned into a bone bruise that would keep him out a couple more weeks. Those couple weeks have also come and gone, but his injury has not. His sprained ankle/bone bruise is now bad enough that no timetable is set for his return…
(Sad) #Bulls injury update: Denzel Valentine (ankle) is out indefinitely. Any optimism that he was weeks away, like Lauri, Portis and Dunn, has been dashed. For now.
— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) November 8, 2018
This is a seriously unfortunate setback for Valentine, whose injury issues stretch all the way to his college days at Michigan State. It is especially frustrating that he is injured now, because it’s exactly his skill set that the Bulls are missing the most. His 3 point shooting would help stretch the floor when paired with Zach LaVine, and he could handle the ball with the second unit, helping Jabari Parker by shouldering some of the scoring and distributing load. Valentine is by no means a world beater, but he is skilled, crafty and experienced, this should be his time to shine.
MVP of the Week:
Mostly for The Block (I’m certain this is the only one worthy of being named in all of NBA history, right? No others come to mind.), but also for saying he aspires to be like Ryan Arcidiacono.
Jabari Parker had high praise for the work ethic and play of Ryan Arcidiacono: “I love all my teammates, especially Archie, he does really well for us. He plays hard. That’s the person I aspire to be, and I look up to him a lot.”
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) November 11, 2018
And in case you missed the action, here is Zach LaVine doing the stuff of legends…
Zach LaVine. Good at dunking. pic.twitter.com/WMX8PYrb2M
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) November 11, 2018
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) November 11, 2018
Zach LaVine with a 360 dunk. No big deal. pic.twitter.com/v4gcEMooDp
— Mark (@mkhoops) November 11, 2018