Wallace Makes Regular Season Home Debut
Posted Nov 3 2006 4:32PM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
Ben Wallace makes his first regular-season appearance at the United Center in a Chicago Bulls uniform on Friday as his new team opens its home schedule with a matchup against the Sacramento Kings.
Wallace signed a four-year, $60 million contract with the Bulls in the offseason after six years with the Detroit Pistons. Despite helping lead the team to a championship in 2004 and being the only player in the league last season to finish among the top 10 in rebounding, blocks and steals, Wallace left Detroit after his relationship with Pistons coach Flip Saunders soured.
Some considered the deal a surprise given not just Wallace's age (32) and his lack of offensive production (7.3 points per game in 2005-06), but that Chicago was the NBA's third-leading rebounding team last season with 42.8 per game. The Bulls, however, said they weren't only looking to Wallace for his defensive presence, but some senior leadership for a young team.
``I think it is critical where we are right now for our young guys. They need that kind of presence around them on a daily basis,'' coach Scott Skiles said after Chicago signed Wallace in July.
Wallace and the Bulls opened the season with two games in Florida, with very different results.
Following a 108-66 rout of the defending champion Miami Heat on Tuesday, the Bulls faltered against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday and lost 109-94.
Wallace played a bit more than 28 minutes in each game and combined for only nine points. He had 11 rebounds against Miami as the Bulls finished with a 49-29 edge on the boards, but grabbed just five at Orlando as his team was outrebounded 39-27.
One night after holding the Heat to 38.5 percent from the field, the Bulls allowed the Magic to shoot 59.3 percent.
``I wouldn't necessarily say defense (was the key),'' Wallace said. ``I would say the energy level. In two nights, we got two looks at it. We got to see what happens if this team comes out and plays at a high energy level. ... Then you see what happens when we come out not ready and don't play at a high energy level. We got the good end (Tuesday) and the bad end (Wednesday).''
Ben Gordon led the Bulls with 24 points on Wednesday, but starting backcourt mate Kirk Hinrich was held to 14 and committed five turnovers. Hinrich had 26 points and no turnovers in the opener, on the same day he agreed to a five-year extension believed to be worth about $47.5 million.
``It just seemed like we didn't have the bounce in our step like we did (against Miami),'' Hinrich said. ``Just out of the gate our defense was bad and a few stretches of turnovers led to (a) big deficit at halftime.''
This is the first of only four home games the Bulls will play this month. Beginning Nov. 14, the team plays seven consecutive games on the road while the circus takes over the United Center.
Sacramento is coming off a 92-83 season-opening loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
The Kings entered the fourth quarter with a 66-64 lead, but fell apart. They committed 12 of their 18 turnovers during that period and lost Mike Bibby with less than three minutes to go, down by six. After receiving a technical, Bibby argued with the official and was ejected, finishing with 16 points and five assists.
``We just pretty much self-destructed,'' Kings center Brad Miller said. ``Turnovers and pretty much things we could control.''
Bibby even playing was a surprise considering the Kings didn't expect him to be back for two weeks because of a mallet thumb - an injury in which a finger tendon becomes detached from the bone.
The Kings won both games against the Bulls last season and have lost only once in 14 meetings this decade.
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