GAME NIGHT FROM NEW ORLEANS
Bulls (13-24, 6-11 on the road) at NOLA: (12-25, 6-12 at home)
TV: NBCSC: Neil Funk and Stacey King: 7PM CT.
RADIO: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington and David Schuster: 6:45 pre.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: LaVine: 23 ppg. NOLA: Ingram: 25ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen: 6 per. NOLA: Favors: 10
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Satoransky: 5 per. NOLA: Holiday: 6 per.
PREVIEW: The Bulls must adjust to life without Wendell Carter who is sidelined with a sprained ankle. Daniel Gafford will be called upon to play extensive minutes and you'll see different combinations on the floor for Head Coach Jim Boylen's team. Injuries are a part of the game; just check the rosters of all 30 ball clubs. It's the nature of the beast. Some more than others, but it's the landscape of sports and one must adjust. It ‘s also an opportunity for others to step up as they are about to receive extended playing time.
Gafford has been very impressive with his shot-blocking ability and a high level of energy and aggressiveness. In 27 games he has already recorded a team-high 36 block shots, averaging 12 minutes a game. That number is increasing by the game as he's seeing more playing time while becoming a valuable member of the Bulls rotation.
Thaddeus Young is also receiving more playing time and has responded of late, whether it's post-up moves on the right block taking advantage of his natural left-handed shooting release or lining up three-point field goal attempts from the corner slot.
The Bulls will play a Pelicans team that is counting the days until the return of Zion Williamson, the Association's number one overall pick who has yet to play a game after sustaining a knee injury in pre-season. He will not play tonight and neither will guard Jrue Holiday. Williamson must first pass strength and conditioning tests before he returns—but it's close, according to Nola.com. The Pelicans are young but have shown promise of late winning six of their last nine games.
Lonzo Ball has responded from his early December benching by averaging 23 points, six rebounds and eight assists per game over the last four contests, shooting. 54% from the field and 46% from three-point range.
Brandon Ingram has stepped up his game and has flourished in a Pelicans uniform averaging 25 per game. He is the only player in the NBA to be averaging at least 20 points per game while shooting over .450 from the field, .400 from three-point range and .850 from the FT line...Ingram is currently averaging 25.2 PPG on .488 FG%, .407 3FG%, .853 FT% Ingram had four 30-point games in his first 3 seasons combined. He has eight already this season.
The Bulls know the importance of this game as they look to snap a four-game losing streak. Staring Friday the Bulls play three games in four nights.
24 SECONDS NBA NEWS AND NOTES:
Los Angeles Lakers 117, New York 87: MRI results on Lakers star Anthony Davis' lower back injury returned clean and he plans to travel with team on the two-game road trip (Dallas, OKC), league sources tell TheAthleticNBA and Stadium.
Sacramento 114, Phoenix 103: The Suns blew a 21 point third-quarter lead.
Memphis 119, Minnesota 112: Ja Morant is a lock for Rookie of the Year. 25 points, seven assists. The Grizzlies are two games over .500 since December 1st.
Oklahoma City 111, Brooklyn 103: Vintage Chris Paul who lured in 20 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Thunder went 3-1 on the road trip. The Nets are in a major free fall losing their seventh straight.
Portland 101, Toronto 99: Carmelo Anthony‘s go-ahead hoop with four seconds left was the game-winner. The Raps played without four starters in their lineup.
Detroit 115, Cleveland 113: Andre Drummond finished the night with 27 points and 23 rebounds. Derrick Rose hit the go-ahead shot with 27 seconds left. Rose played a season-high 31 minutes.
Blake Griffin is out indefinitely, perhaps season ending after undergoing knee surgery.
Atlanta's Jabari Parker underwent a non-surgical shoulder procedure and will be re-examined in two weeks.
Detroit's Derrick Rose will participate in the Skills Challenge All-Star Weekend in Chicago.
The Heat announced a three-day celebration of Dwyane Wade's career culminating with the retirement of his # 3 jersey.
Always a pleasure.