GAME NIGHT FROM ORLANDO:
TV: WGN TV: Neil Funk and Stacey King - 6:00 pm CT
Radio: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, Steve Kashul - 5:30 pm CT pregame - WLS 890AM
Bulls 1-5 (0-3 road) at Orlando 6-2 (3-0 home)
Last game: Miami 97, Bulls 91. Orlando 101, Memphis 99.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Markkanen - 17ppg. Orlando: Fournier - 22ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen - 9. Orlando: Gordon - 8.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Grant - 6. Orlando: Augustin - 5.
BULLS STAYING WITH STARTING 5: Bulls will go with Grant, Holiday, Markkanen, Nwaba and Lopez against the Magic.
Nwaba had 11 rebounds against the Heat and played with typical Nwaba electric energy:
"I think I did ok, I was aggressive crashing the glass. My confidence is boosting. With the time I'm out there I need to be aggressive and make use of every opportunity. I'm never complacent or happy where I'm at."
SCOUTING REPORT: The Magic are a bit thin at the point guard position with both Elfrid Payton and D.J. Augustin hampered with hamstring issues. Augustin is out. Payton is questionable. The Magic rely on Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic. Fournier (22ppg) has scored at least 20 points in 7 of 8 games. The only players with more 20 point games this season are James Harden, and Steph Curry.
Newcomer Jonathan Simmons leads the NBA in bench points with 126, an average of nearly 16 per game. Four years ago, he paid to attend a G-League tryout and hooked on with Austin. The Spurs liked what they saw and he played two years in San Antonio before leaving for the Magic as a free agent.
CCI on Aaron Gordon: Since Gordon has come in the league, I've been intrigued with his incredible athleticism with hopes his "game" would catch up to his rare physical abilities. In year four, we are now looking at a player who could be on the verge of a big time, break out season. He always struggled shooting the three ball. Last year was a career best 28% of the 169 qualified 3 point shooters, only Marcus Smart shot worse from the perimeter. Gordon is now playing the power forward position. In past seasons he's played, Gordon has gone back and forth between small and power positions. This season, Gordon is shooting 57% behind the arc benefiting from an off season where he worked on mechanics of his shot. It's paid off to say the least.
DISNEY WORLD IS ROLO WORLD: The Bulls center (one of my all-time favorite people who happens to play ball) is a kid at heart when it comes to theme parks:
"I always loved animation. I'm from LA, so I would frequent Disneyland all the time. I think what was really big, is that all my brothers, especially Brook (twin brother), was always by my side, that we reinforced, we were an echo chamber, echoed love of Disney. I'm a big Robin Hood fan, Lion King. I do love roller coasters. But I'm not quite a coaster junkie like some people are."
NEXT BULLS GAME: Saturday night at United Center. New Orleans at Bulls.
NBA NEWS AND NOTES:
In San Antonio, the Spurs jumped on the Warriors early leading 31-12 then Golden State decided to play. Final: Golden State 112, Spurs 92. San Antonio playing without two starters in Leonard and Parker suffered its fourth straight loss. For those asking...Zaza Pachulia was booed throughout the game. As you may recall, Zara slid under Leonard's jumper in the playoffs...well, you know the rest of the story.
Plenty of news coming out of the Blazers-Lakers game. Damian Lillard's three ball with 0.7 sec left propelled Portland past LA 113-110. It's Lillard's sixth game winning shot in the final five seconds. Lonzo Ball played twenty-eight scoreless minutes taking only two shots but finished with a plus ten. Larry Nance Jr., the Lakers starting power forward suffered a broken left hand in the game. Al Farouq-Aminu will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks with a right ankle sprain. He's a valuable player for Portland.
Cavs can't seem to get it together on the court and now off the court. Tristan Thompson is out 3-4 weeks with a calf injury. This is a MAJOR loss for Cleveland.
The Cavs have lost four straight games. Interesting perspective from Dwayne Wade, who has seen it all in his fifteen seasons in the NBA as he tells ESPN:
"That last year in Miami when we went to the Finals, I don't know how we made it," Wade said after practice Thursday. "As a team, we were kind of like this. It was worse, because it wasn't new guys; it was guys who had been around each other four years in a row. Your jokes weren't funny anymore to other guys, when you walked in it wasn't a big smile any more. Guys were just over you. It's like being in a bad marriage."
The 2018 NBA Draft Lottery will be held on May 15, 2018, in Chicago. The NBA Draft Combine will follow from May 16-20, also in Chicago.
Always a pleasure!