GAME NIGHT FROM THE UNITED CENTER:
Toronto (53-23, 23-14 on the road) at Bulls: (21-55, 9-29 at home)
TV: WGN : Neil Funk and Stacey 7PM tipoff
RADIO: 560. AM. Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington and Steve Kashul. 6:45AM
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: LaVine: 23 ppg. Toronto: Leonard: 27 ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: LaVine: 4 per. Toronto: Ibaka: 8 per.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 6 per. Toronto: Lowry: 8 per.
SEASON SERIES: Toronto 3-0.
CCI PREVIEW: The Bulls get their second look at the Raps in a five day span. Toronto is locked in as the second seed in the East and will cut back on starters minutes allowing their bench to play over their next seven games. Kawhi Leonard had a terrific game against the Bulls in Toronto but will sit this one out missing his 22nd game of the season. Norman Powell had a huge game drilling four threes and has connected on nine of his last eleven long distance field goals.
The Raptors have done an outstanding job building their bench. Their roster is deep and in my opinion they will win the East.
The Bulls are limping home toward the end. The roster is decimated with injuries as Head Coach Jim Boylen and his staff continue to give players opportunities to learn on the job and play through the good times as well as the struggles. After tonight’s game, the Bulls play the Knicks and 76ers each twice and at Washington next Wednesday. Philly is situated in the third seed so like Toronto, don’t expect heavy duty minutes from their starters. No doubt certain starters will sit out. The Knicks are the Knicks. Washington is out of the playoff picture.
CCI IN THE LOCKER ROOM: “I’m better. Obviously I’m disappointed the season is over for me, but health is the most important thing. I did do a workout today.” - Lauri Markkanen
BULLS ROSTER UPDATE: The Bulls signed guard Walt Lemon Jr. to an NBA contract. In accordance with team policy, terms of the contract were not announced.
A Chicago native, Lemon Jr. (6-3, 180) appeared in 33 games this season for the Windy City Bulls, Chicago’s G League affiliate, posting averages of 20.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 8.9 assists and 1.48 steals in 33.1 minutes per game. Lemon Jr. signed a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics on July 25, 2018, but was waived by the Celtics on Nov. 29. He saw time with the Maine Red Claws for 10 games before moving to Windy City to complete the 2018-19 season. His total averages in the 2018-19 G League regular season over 43 games were 20.9 points (11th), 4.7 rebounds and 8.4 assists (2nd). In Windy City’s first franchise playoff game on March 27, Lemon Jr. posted a game-high 29 points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists in the loss.
Lemon Jr. also spent time with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons, where he averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.64 steals in 30.2 minutes per game. He made his NBA debut on Feb. 23, 2018 after signing two consecutive 10-day contracts with the New Orleans Pelicans. In five games with the Pelicans, he averaged 3.4 points and 1.0 assists in 7.0 minutes per game. A product out of Bradley University, Lemon Jr. also played internationally in Hungary, Germany, Turkey and Greece.
Lemon Jr. will wear No. 25.
CCI 24 SECONDS NBA NEWS AND NOTES:
Boston 114 - Indiana 112. Kyrie Irving with the game winning layup. On the night Irving scored 30 points and dished out five assists.
Minnesota 131 - Golden State 130 OT. The Warriors were extremely frustrated with the officiating and were extremely disrespectful in the process. Expect big fines headed their way. Steph Curry drained 11- three pointers in the loss.
Portland 118 - Atlanta 98. Damian Lillard with a 36 points-7 assists game. The Blazers have won six straight.
Utah 128 - Washington 124. Donovan Mitchell out dueled Bradley Beal 35-34.
Denver 115 - Oklahoma City 105. All Star Nikola Jokic had another superb performance of 23 points and 16 rebounds. The Nuggets swept the four game season series .
Los Angeles Lakers 129 - Charlotte 115. Rajon Rondo had 17 assists. The Hornets trail eighth seed Miami by two games with seven games left.