<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Outside Shot ]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/outside-shot http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 28 Apr 2015 13:42:42 -0500 Tue, 28 Apr 2015 13:42:42 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bulls Officially Decide to Amnesty Boozer: Report]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 07:08:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Grading+Booz+1.jpg

It looks like Carlos Boozer's run with the Chicago Bulls is over.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the team has decided to amnesty the power forward, meaning he'll be cut from the team but still receive his $16.8 million salary which won't count against the cap.

The amnesty provision hasn't officially been invoked, but Boozer's management has already been informed, the newspaper reported.

The writing may have been on the wall Tuesday when backup power forward Taj Gibson was among the Bulls players welcoming Carmelo Anthony during a free agency visit and Boozer was nowhere in sight.

The Knicks were reportedly not interested in a sign-and-trade deal involving Boozer and Anthony.

The $16.8 million allows the Bulls much more flexibility in pursuing free agents.

ESPN is reporting that Bulls management will meet with free agent Pau Gasol in Los Angeles Thursday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Jordan Surprises Elementary School Students]]> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 20:46:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/482848813.jpg

The Monday blues quickly turned to uncontrollable joy at a Charlotte elementary school when Michael Jordan decided to pop by for a surprise visit.

MJ dropped by a classroom at Hornets Nest Elementary School in Charlotte, provoking shouts and screams of joy from the assembled students.

Jordan is the Charlotte Hornets' principal owner.

The team is working with the school to beautify the school, hence Jordan's appearance on Monday.

The surprise visit was captured on the team's Instagram account.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational]]>
<![CDATA[Taj Gibson, Tom Thibodeau Attend Slain Boy's Funeral]]> Sat, 07 Jun 2014 05:56:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Taj_Gibson_funeral.jpg

Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson and coach Tom Thibodeau were among hundreds of attendees at a Friday funeral for a 6-year-old Brooklyn boy stabbed to death in a public housing project elevator.

Prince Joshua Avitto and his 7-year-old playmate, Mikayla Capers, were attacked in an East New York building on Schenck Avenue in East New York on Sunday.

Avitto is Gibson's cousin, who he referred to as "PJ."

Gibson, who is from Brooklyn, said of the boy, "He would be like, 'Cousin Taj, pick me up. I'm Superman.'"

"That's what gets me every time," he said. "I know him from being Superman. He's invincible."

"It was like he was my age. That's how I looked at it," he said, adding: "It's hard being here around my aunt. She's the strongest woman in my family 'cause she raised all of us. It's hard to be here."

Mayor de Blasio and the Rev. Al Sharpton attended a private wake before the funeral. The line of relatives, friends and community members stretched around the block outside the St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York.

Neighbor Barbara Gholston said she suspected there would be a big turnout for PJ, who she described as "such a sweet kid."

His preschool teacher Janet James said "he was loved by so many, a loving little boy."

Slideshows of the smiling boy were displayed above the church's main stage; a relative held a poster of Spider-man, one of the child's favorite comic book characters.

"We've come today to celebrate P.J.'s life," the Rev. David Brawley said. "But we must acknowledge that his life was ended way too soon."

There was some at least a piece of good news during the service: PJ's 7-year-old best friend who survived the stabbing, Mikayla Capers, is out of ICU. The announcement touched off a "jubilant" moment among those gathered, according to Brawley.

On Thursday, police charged Daniel St. Hubert, a 27-year-old parolee, with murder and other crimes in the Sunday death of P.J. and the critical wounding of Mikayla. Capers suffered a collapsed lung in the attack.

St. Hubert was arrested Wednesday night in Ozone Park, hours after authorities said preliminary DNA from the knife recovered at the elevator attack scene matched his DNA in a database.

<![CDATA[Taj Gibson's Cousin Stabbed to Death in NYC]]> Tue, 03 Jun 2014 09:46:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Prince-Joshua-Avitto.jpg

Police on Tuesday continued looking for a man who attacked two children in an elevator -- stabbing a 6-year-old boy to death and critically injuring a 7-year-old girl -- in what appeared to be a random attack days after he may have also brutally stabbed a teenager nearby. 

The boy, identified as Prince Joshua Avitto, was found near the elevator and the girl was found just outside the building. He is a cousin of Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson.

In a Tweet, Gibson said the boy was two weeks from celebrating his birthday.

"No parent should have to go through this. He killed my baby," Avitto's mother wailed as she fell into a friend's arms outside the hospital. 

The devastated father on Monday morning put on his son's backpack and retraced the steps his son would have walked to school.  

"I don't know why someone would do that to a 6-year-old boy," said Nicholas Avitto at a community vigil later in the evening. "My little son. My pride and joy. My life, my livelihood, my existence to live for is gone."

The little girl, identified as Mikayla Capers, suffered a collapsed lung and was fighting for her life, according to family members.

The man attacked the children with a steak knife at around 6 p.m. Sunday in the building on Schenck Avenue in East New York, police said. They children were both stabbed in the torso, and were believed to be on their way to get frozen treats.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday that the suspect was a husky man wearing a gray sweatshirt as he fled eastbound. There were no video cameras at the housing complex, he said.

"There is a massive effort underway to find the perpetrator," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Police believe the suspect may be the same person who stabbed a teen to death a few blocks away on Friday night. Investigators are reviewing what Bratton said is grainy video of that stabbing.

Dozens of officers have been assigned to the corner of Schenck and Stanley avenues in one of New York's most violent neighborhoods as part of the investigation. 

NBC New York's Ida Siegal and Andrew Siff contributed to this report. Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

<![CDATA[Joakim Noah Tops NBA All-Defensive Team]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 16:23:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/joakim_award.jpg Chicago's Joakim Noah and Indiana's Paul George received the most votes on this year's NBA all-defensive team, released Monday.

Less than two months after a landslide victory in balloting for the league's defensive player of the year, Noah was the only player to receive more than 100 first-team votes and earn more than 200 points for the team. Noah received 105 of 123 possible votes, while George had 65 votes. The rest of the first team consisted of Clippers guard Chris Paul, Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka and Golden State swingman Andre Iguodala.

It's the second consecutive year Noah was chosen to the first team.

Four-time league MVP LeBron James and defensive player of the year runner-up Roy Hibbert were both on the second team. Noah dominated on the defensive end this season, joining Andre Drummond of Detroit and Anthony Davis of New Orleans as the only players in the league to average at least 10.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals. Noah finished sixth in the league in rebounding (11.3), 12th in blocks (1.51) and helped the Bulls hold opponents to 43.0 percent field goal shooting, the second-best mark in the league. He also had 1.24 steals per game.

George, widely considered one of the league's best two-way players at age 24, finished fifth in the league in steals (1.89) and was the only player in the NBA to average at least 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals.

Paul received 64 first-team votes after winning his sixth steals title (2.48). Ibaka made his presence felt in the Western Conference finals. After getting beaten twice in San Antonio without him, the Thunder won the next two games on their home court with Ibaka. The Spurs eventually won the series 4-2.

Iguodala averaged 1.5 steals as the Warriors jumped from No. 19 in defense in 2012-13 to 10th this season. James and Iguodala each received 57 first-team votes but Iguodala had 14 more second-team votes to edge out James for the final spot on the first team.

Houston guard Patrick Beverley, Chicago guard Jimmy Butler, San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard and Hibbert rounded out the second team.

Indiana and Chicago were the only teams with two players on the list, which is selected by a panel of 123 sports writers and broadcasters in the U.S. and Canada.]]>
<![CDATA[Joakim Noah Undergoes Knee Surgery]]> Fri, 02 May 2014 21:07:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/joakim_3-31.jpg Bulls center Joakim Noah is recovering after undergoing arthroscopic left knee surgery.

Chicago announced the operation Friday. It was performed by team physician Dr. Brian Cole. The team says Noah will rehab his knee for eight to 12 weeks.

Noah is coming off his best season with the Bulls, when he was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-11 Noah set career highs with averages of 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

Noah helped the Bulls win 48 games during the regular season, but it was clear that the knee was bothering him when Chicago was eliminated by Washington in the first round of the playoffs. He had the knee drained at some point during the season and the injury flared up again.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bulls Hope to Stave Off Elimination Tuesday Night]]> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 17:04:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP404329639579.jpg

Drew Gooden knows what it's like to play for a team that blew a 3-1 lead, so he won't breathe easy until the Washington Wizards finish off the Chicago Bulls.

They have a chance to do just that on Tuesday night.

Game 5 is in Chicago, and if the Wizards prevail, they'll move on in the playoffs for just the third time since the 1970s. But as commanding as their lead is, Gooden knows just how quickly it can go away.

The veteran forward was a rookie with Orlando in 2003 when the Magic went up 3-1 on Detroit, only to drop the next three to the Pistons and bow out in the first round.

"We had a chance to put 'em down and finish them and we didn't — and then they started a dynasty in the Eastern Conference for the next five, six years," Gooden said Monday. "That was something I always looked back at. We could've beat that team, being up 3-1, just one (more) game. Who knows? The Pistons would've probably never been the Pistons."

Detroit went on to make the first of six straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals and won the championship in 2004.

The Wizards just won 44 games with John Wall and Bradley Beal leading the way to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and if they take out Chicago, they'll do something they've rarely done — make a run in the postseason. It's been mostly one-and-done in the playoffs since losing in the 1979 finals to Seattle.

Two exceptions: They knocked off New Jersey 2-0 in the first round in 1982 and took out Chicago 4-2 in 2005 after dropping the first two games.

Chicago overcame the early loss of Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury and the trade of Luol Deng. Now, here are the Bulls once again being tested in a big way.

Only eight teams have won a series after falling behind 3-1, the most recent being the Phoenix Suns in the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006.

"I believe we have a resilient group and I believe we'll find a way," coach Tom Thibodeau said.

The Bulls have been bogged down by slow starts. They've had their difficulties with Wall, Beal and Trevor Ariza not to mention Nene — when he's been available.

That was one of the most discouraging aspects for the Bulls of Sunday's 98-89 loss. Even though Nene was serving a suspension for grabbing Jimmy Butler's head in Game 3, the Wizards still prevailed.

They got a career playoff-high 30 points from Ariza, who's averaging 18 in the series and has helped contain D.J. Augustin, and once again had the Bulls playing catch-up. The Wizards scored the first 14 points after grabbing early leads in each of the first three games, and they didn't need any late comebacks after wiping out double-digit deficits in the second half to win each of the first two in this series.

"They're trying to be a bully to us, come out and punch us in the mouth early," Augustin said. "We've got to come out and jump on them early."

Washington's Marcin Gortat is bracing for just that from the Bulls. He expects some changes and more pressure, anything to take the Wizards out of their rhythm early on.

"I believe they're going to try to come out really hot from the first minute, and we've just got to stay tough," he said.

Toughness carried the Bulls to the second round last year without Rose and allowed them to come together this season despite some big obstacles.

Now, they're facing another huge hurdle.

"This team's been up against it for two years," Thibodeau said.

And the Wizards? Well, they're not exactly breathing easy.

"I want our guys desperate," coach Randy Wittman said. "I don't care about Chicago. I want us to be greedy tomorrow."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Reinsdorfs Support Silver's Decision On Sterling ]]> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 18:00:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Reinsdorf+Smart.jpg

NBA commissioner Adam Silver can count on Chicago's support in his decision to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league in the wake of racist comments that became public.

Bulls and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf issued a joint statement Tuesday praising Silver for his "prompt investigation and action."

"The Commissioner was correct to ban Mr. Sterling from all official NBA business, to levy the stiffest allowable fine, and we will support his recommendation to press for Mr. Sterling to relinquish his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise. We believe Commissioner Silver's decision reflects the best interests of the NBA and public civility.

The league's decision underscores the severity and reprehensible nature of the comments attributed to Donald Sterling. These comments in no way reflect the attitude, values, and culture of the Bulls and White Sox organizations. This behavior cannot be tolerated in any form.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said he agreed with the decision.

"I think they did the right thing. Obviously there's no place that that type of behavior in our league and Adam was very strong," Thibodeau said. "It's a strong statement by the league and it needed to be made." Discrimination and prejudice of any kind have no place in sports or in our society. -- Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf"

Silver, who became the league's commissioner Feb. 1, said the league will "force a sale" of the team -- a process that he said will start immediately. The owners have the authority subject to three-quarters vote of the ownership partners to remove him as an owner, Silver said.

Sterling, who has owned the team since 1981, also faces a fine of $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under league rules.

Silver addressed a key point of the investigation during the news conference -- whether the male voice heard on the recording is that of the 80-year-old Clippers owner. The investigation included an interview with Sterling, during which it was determined that the voice on the recording is that of Sterling, Silver said.

Andy Roeser, the Clippers' president, released the following statement over the weekend: "Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life."


Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Sports Lawyer Weighs In On Sterling Controversy]]> Mon, 28 Apr 2014 20:36:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000006989434_1200x675_240323651757.jpg Will the owner of the LA Clippers step down after alleged racist comments? NBC 5's Anthony Ponce speaks gets reaction.]]> <![CDATA[Magic Johnson Discusses Sterling Saga]]> Mon, 28 Apr 2014 20:33:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000006996101_1200x675_240326211635.jpg Johnson renews call for Los Angeles Clippers owner to be removed. ]]> <![CDATA[Magic: "I'm Disappointed... Hurt... Outraged"]]> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 05:56:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/magic_johnson_gary.jpg

NBA Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson addressed Donald Sterling's alleged racist remarks Monday at an event in Gary, Ind.

Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, is alleged to be the voice on an audio recording posted on the TMZ website criticizing a woman for posting online about bringing black friends to games. The man is also heard chastising the woman for posting a photo on Instagram with Johnson.

"I'm disappointed, I'm hurt, I'm outraged, I'm everything," Johnson said at a news conference. "First, my name being associated, he singled me out personally, then he singled out African Americans. Again, I'm always gonna fight for myself and as well as my people."

Johnson reiterated statements that Sterling should not be allowed to continue as an owner. The NBA is expected to hold a press conference Tuesday on its investigation involving Sterling's alleged remarks.

"It was a sad day for all owners, of every sports team, but especially in the NBA, and hopefully our commissioner Silver will act quickly and resolve this situation," Johnson said. "I think that there's no room, so he has to lose the team, hopefully, and if that doesn't happen, then the commissioners and his partners have to decide his fate."

Johnson agrees with the Clippers players' decision to continue playing in the playoffs. The players held a silent protest before Sunday's game, wearing their warmup outfits inside-out and black socks.

"If nothing happens, then you can boycott in the off season, and not just the Clippers, the whole league has to, because if he's not thrown out, then you have to do something," Johnson said.

Johnson said emphatically that he has no interest in buying the Clippers himself, despite rumors to the contrary.

"When he came out against us and he said those things, and said about me personally that he didn't want me to come to his games, then everyone says that if he sells it, then Magic should buy it. I never said that, so that's not the case," Johnson said.

NBC News has not been able to authenticate the audio tapes posted on TMZSports.com or extended clips posted by Deadspin.

Clippers president Andy Roeser released a statement, saying: "Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life."

<![CDATA[Bulls Win Game 3 Over Wizards]]> Sat, 26 Apr 2014 05:56:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bulls_4-25.jpg The forgotten man in Games 1 and 2, Mike Dunleavy nearly had the best scoring game of his career.

Dunleavy scored 35 points, one short of his career-high, and Jimmy Butler hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining as the Chicago Bulls hung on Friday night for a 100-97 win over the Washington Wizards, trimming the deficit to 2-1 in their Eastern Conference first round series.

Dunleavy made a career-high eight 3-pointers on 10 attempts, and the Bulls went 12 for 24 beyond the arc. After Butler's final 3, the teams traded fouls and free throws. Washington had a chance to tie when Taj Gibson missed a free throw with 3.1 seconds to play, but Trevor Ariza threw the ball out of bounds after grabbing the rebound in a miscommunication with teammate John Wall.

Game 4 is Sunday in Washington. The Bulls are attempting to become only the fourth NBA team to win a seven-game series after losing the first two at home.

Bradley Beal scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Wizards. Wall had 23 points and seven assists.

Dunleavy scored 20 points combined in the first two games, but he passed that total early in the second half. His four-point play in the third quarter — completed after he was clobbered by Beal outside the arc — helped steady the Bulls in a game in which neither team led by double digits.

Beal had reason to be frustrated. During a walkoff interview with CSN at halftime, the Wizards guard guaranteed Dunleavy wouldn't score in the second half.

The game was played at the Wizards' faster pace, yet retained much of the physical play preferred by the Bulls. The chippiness evident in the games at Chicago resurfaced in the fourth quarter when Nene and Butler went forehead-to-forehead, with the Wizards forward grabbing Butler by the back of the neck and the side of the head.

Both were assessed with techncials, and Nene was ejected with 8:28 to play.

It had been six years since the Wizards hosted a playoff game, and, for a while, Wall appeared to embody the pent-up energy all by himself. He completely dusted Kirk Hinrich with a stutter move at the free-throw line and drove for a layup, capped a fast break with a windmill slam and performed a 360 move that was so breathtaking it almost didn't matter that he missed the layup.

Dunleavy was on target Friday night from the get-go. He slammed his hands on the floor in frustration after he didn't get the ball from Butler for an open 3-pointer early in the first quarter, but his teammates had no trouble finding him after that.

Dunleavy scored 10 of the Bulls' first 14 points and was 6 for 8 from the field with 16 points at halftime. The Wizards were so intent on guarding him at the arc that he was able to pump fake a 3, then drive to the lane for a three-point play.

Neither team was about to let the other pull away. Dunleavy hit another 3 to start the fourth quarter, part of his six points in a 9-0 run that gave the Bulls a seven-point lead, but the Wizards kept responding.

Wall, however, missed two free throws with 1:27 to play and the score tied. The next score was the 3-pointer from Butler.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Noah Gets Into Spat With Wizards Security Guard]]> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 20:19:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Joakim_noah_3-21.jpg Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman says things "got out of hand" when Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah got into a shouting match with a Wizards security official during the Bulls' shootaround ahead of Game 3 in the teams' first-round series.

Said Wittman: "That's got to be something from our side that shouldn't happen."

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Wittman and Wizards staffer Jackie Miles swore at each other following the Bulls' shootaround Friday morning. The paper said Miles was trying to get Noah off the court before Noah was ready to leave.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau called the incident "much ado about nothing." ]]>
<![CDATA[Macklemore Debuts Salmon-Colored Jordans]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:24:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/macklemore+air+jordan.jpg

A collaboration between Macklemore and Michael Jordan has left fans of Air Jordan's coveted shoe collection, well, up in the air.

In a performance at the Jordan Brand Classic at the Baclays Center in Brooklyn this weekend, Macklemore debuted the latest “Northwest King Salmon” Jordan Melo M10 footwear.

The shoes have received mixed reviews -- some even called them hideous -- following their debut, but for the Grammy-winning rapper, there was nothing fishy about his one-of-a-kind kicks.

"I'm proud to announce the unveiling of my 'Northwest King Salmon' Melo's," the rapper wrote on his Instagram. "Courtesy of @jumpman23 and myself. Never dreamed I'd have an opportunity like this."

Macklemore even shared a photo with the NBA legend in the salmon-colored unveiling.

The shoes are part of Jordan and Carmelo Anthony's "Melo" line, but it remains unclear if they will be retailed and how much they might sell for.

Whether the shoes are a fashion statement waiting to catch on or a style "don’t" to keep off your feet, we’ll leave that up to you.

Photo Credit: Macklemore/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[Wizards Beat Bulls in Overtime]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 05:56:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bulls_wizards_.jpg Bradley Beal came on strong late in regulation to finish with 26 points, Nene scored six of his 17 in overtime and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 101-99 Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

Washington rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter after blowing a 17-point first-quarter lead.

Nene scored the first six points in overtime after being held in check by Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in regulation, and the Wizards hung on after Kirk Hinrich failed to convert at the foul line in the closing seconds.

Noah had just hit two free throws when Beal missed a jumper with 18 seconds left. Jimmy Butler got the rebound and Chicago called time.

Hinrich, a 76-percent free throw shooter this season, had a chance to tie it after getting fouled by Nene on a drive with 2.4 seconds left. But his first attempt hit the rim. He deliberately missed the second, and Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound to seal the win for Washington.

D.J. Augustin led Chicago with 25 points. Taj Gibson had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Noah added 20 points and 12 boards, but the Bulls will have to dig themselves out of a huge hole after dropping two at home.

John Wall had 16 points and seven assists for Washington.

The Bulls appeared to be in good shape up 87-77 five minutes into the fourth and were still leading 91-85 when Beal, quiet in the second half, shot the Wizards back into the game.

He nailed a 3-pointer that made it 91-88 and added a floater to make it a one-point game. Then, with a chance to put Washington ahead, he hit 1 of 2 free throws with 52.9 seconds left to tie it at 91.

Both teams had opportunities to win it in the closing seconds but couldn't convert.

Augustin threw up an air ball, setting off a scramble that led to a jump ball between Gibson and Nene. Beal controlled the tip, but after a timeout, he missed an 18-footer along the baseline as time expired.

The Bulls were trailing 64-61 with just under six minutes left in the third when they went on an 8-1 run for their first lead of the game.

Mike Dunleavy Jr. put them ahead 65-64 with a jumper, and he capped that spurt with a layup that made it a four-point game with about four minutes left in the quarter.

The Bulls were leading 87-77 after a driving layup by Noah and two free throws by Butler with 6:59 left regulation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cheryl's United Center Jumbotron Bulls Forecast]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:33:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cheryl_UC_jumbotron.jpg NBC 5's Cheryl Scott gives the forecast on the Jumbotron at the United Center before Game 2. ]]> <![CDATA[Bulls Try To Bounce Back Versus Wizards]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:08:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bulls_wizards_1.jpg

The Chicago Bulls' resolve is being tested once again.

They trail the Washington Wizards 1-0 in their first-round playoff series after blowing a 13-point lead in the opener and will try to pull even on Tuesday.

"You look at how they played down the stretch, you know how good they are," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Despite losing Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury and trading Luol Deng, no team in the Eastern Conference won more games after New Year's Eve than Chicago. But Thibodeau wasn't talking about the Bulls. He was referring to the Wizards, who hadn't been to the playoffs since 2008.

The fifth-seeded Wizards rallied from 13 down to beat Chicago 102-93, and they might have opened a few eyes in the process.

"I think we can surprise a lot of teams, if you play the right way," Nene said.

Here are five things to look for heading into Game 2 of this best-of-7 series.

STOPPING NENE: Put simply, the Bulls didn't do that. The Wizards' big man dominated inside with 24 points and eight rebounds, and he seemed just fine after missing 21 games late in the season because of a sprained left knee.

"He's as strong as they come down there on the block," Chicago's Mike Dunleavy Jr. said. "And he's long, too. Presents a lot of problems."

SWITCH IT UP? The Bulls struggled down the stretch in Game 1, getting outscored 30-18 in the fourth quarter. So are rotation changes coming? Thibodeau wouldn't say.

"We'll see," he said.

One option if he's looking to jolt the offense could be Dunleavy, who played the first 3:21 in the fourth before being lifted for Kirk Hinrich. Another possibility would be going with Carlos Boozer, although he rarely plays in the final period.

IN NEED OF ASSISTS: The Bulls managed just 13 assists in Sunday's game, just two off their season-low, and don't think Thibodeau didn't notice that. Sure, Chicago shot a low percentage (42 percent overall, 5 of 20 3-pointers). The game was called tight, too, with 26 free throws for the Bulls and 35 for the Wizards. "You're not going to get assists on things like that, but 13 is a very low number," Thibodeau said.

AGAINST THE WALL: A combined 7-of-25 shooting effort doesn't exactly look good for John Wall and Bradley Beal. Yet, the Wizards still won even though their two best players were off target.

Did the Bulls put too much emphasis on stopping Washington's guard and not enough on containing Nene and Marcin Gortat (15 points, 13 rebounds) down low?

"I like to think we just did a good job on those perimeter guys and didn't do a good enough job on the other two and hopefully we can flip that," Dunleavy said.

MILLER'S MOMENT: Andre Miller came up big against D.J. Augustin in the fourth quarter in Game 1, scoring eight of his 10 points to help Washington grab the lead.

If the Wizards win this series, the veteran guard will do something he's never done — advance in the postseason.

"It's about the situation you get put in," said Miller, in his 15th season. "Some players get the opportunity to play with those marquee superstars that will get them out of that first round. I have played with Carmelo (Anthony), Nene, Marcus Camby but we ran up against some mega-stars, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard. I just enjoy my time competing."

Augustin had a difficult night all around. He scored 16 points but hit just 3 of 15 shots, and he couldn't handle Miller late in the game.

"To put it on one guy, that's not how we do it here," Thibodeau said. "I could go from start to finish. There are things we didn't do correctly, we're capable of doing much better and we're going to have to."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Joakim Noah Named Defensive Player of the Year]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:36:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/joakim_award.jpg

The NBA bestowed one of the most-coveted individual awards to Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah Monday.

Noah was named the Defensive Player of the Year.

Noah received 555 of a possible 1,125 points, including 100 first-place votes, from a panel of 125 sportswriters and broadcasters.

Indiana's Roy Hibbert and the Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan finished second and third, respectively.

Noah was the centerpiece of a defense which held opponents to a league-low 91.8 ppg.

It marks the second time a Chicago Bull has won the award. Michael Jordan snagged the honor during the 1987-88 season.

Photo Credit: BullsTV]]>
<![CDATA[Benny the Bull Stars in New Bud Light Ad]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:03:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Benny_bud_light.jpg

Chicago hoops fans know Benny the Bull is always up for whatever -- just witness his flag-waving stunt atop the Willis Tower Thursday -- but now Benny gets to prove it in a new Bud Light ad.

The Bulls mascot is a featured character in Bud Light's new "Up For Whatever" commercial, designed to show regular guys experiencing an epic night.

The ad, which will run during the NBA playoffs, shows two fans hanging out with NBA legends Alonzo Mourning, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler and Darryl Dawkins.

But their tour guide around the city is none other than Benny the Bull, who helps direct traffic and rides around town with the two fans.

More proof that Benny is arguably the most popular mascot in the NBA.

<![CDATA[Benny the Bull Waves Flag Atop Willis Tower]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:34:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Benny_Willis_Flag.jpg Are you ready for the playoffs? Chicago Bulls mascot Benny the Bull waved the team's flag on top of the Willis Tower Wednesday. The stunt was shot by BullsTV and will be incorporated into the "Benny around Chicago" playoff themed video that will be shown in the arena.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Joakim Noah's Priceless Reaction to Chicago Snow]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:56:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Joakim_Noah_4-15.jpg

You can excuse Joakim Noah if sometimes he's disconnected from the regular world the rest of us live in.

After all, he's one of the best players in the NBA, and on Monday night he was working -- dropping 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists on the Orlando Magic in the United Center.

So you'll have to excuse him if he wasn't aware of what the rest of us knew -- spring appears to be a tease, and it was indeed snowing in the middle of April.

Noah was informed of that fresh piece of weather news while telling reporters post-game that we're in the midst of the best time of the year because it's not cold anymore and the sun is starting to come out.

"Are you serious? Nah... that's bull__," Noah told the Chicago Sun-Times and other reporters with an incredulous look on his face.

It just goes to show, you can make millions of dollars a year and be a mainstay on Sportscenter highlights, but when it comes to bad weather -- you're just as miserable as the next guy.

<![CDATA[Bulls Beat Magic In Home Season Finale]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 22:03:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Dunleavy_4-14.jpg Joakim Noah had 18 points and 10 rebounds and eight assists, Mike Dunleavy scored 22 points and the Chicago Bulls pulled away late for a 108-95 victory over the Orlando Magic Monday night.

With one game left in the regular season, the Bulls are fourth in the Eastern Conference playoff race and looking at a first-round matchup with Brooklyn. To catch Toronto and finish third, the Bulls would need to win the season finale at Charlotte on Wednesday and have the Raptors lose at New York

Kyle O'Quinn led Orlando with 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting, and Andrew Nicholson added 19. Rookie Victor Oladipo was limited to 10 points after scoring a career-high 35 points against the Bulls earlier in the season.

Jimmer Fredette had 17 points for Chicago.

With guard D.J. Augustin missing the game with an undisclosed personal issue — he wasn't in the United Center — the Bulls' rotation was a bit off in the first half.

Fredette was the first player off the bench and he showed the rust of not playing much since being picked up at the beginning of March.

Still, the Bulls used a run of 10 straight points early in the second quarter to open up a 38-26 lead and took a 57-44 halftime lead. Noah led the way with 11 first-half points, and Carlos Boozer added 10. Rookie Tony Snell had nine points in 6½ minutes in the second quarter.

The Magic stayed close, pulling within 67-64 with just under three minutes left in the third.

Dunleavy, though, hit a 3-pointer to stop Orlando's momentum. Soon after, Fredette capped the third-quarter scoring with a pair of free throws to make it 81-70 heading into the fourth.

The Bulls quickly thwarted any hopes of a Magic comeback by opening the final quarter with a 13-7 to make it 94-77 with about seven minutes to go.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bulls Win Moves Team Into No. 3 Playoff Seed]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 05:56:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bulls_4-11.jpg D.J. Augustin scored 24 points, Taj Gibson added 17, and the Chicago Bulls rallied from 18 down to beat the Detroit Pistons 106-98 for their seventh straight win on Friday night.

Carlos Boozer finished with 18 points. Mike Dunleavy Jr. scored all of his 14 in the second half, and the Bulls kept their longest win streak of the season going.

They moved a game ahead of Atlantic Division leader Toronto for third in the Eastern Conference, with the Raptors losing to the New York Knicks. The Bulls also clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with Brooklyn falling to Atlanta.

They trailed by 56-38 at the half after getting dominated inside by Andre Drummond but turned things around in a big way after that.

Chicago outscored Detroit 32-24 in the third quarter to pull within 10 and went on a 15-0 run in the fourth to turn an eight-point deficit into a 90-83 edge. The Bulls then hung on in the closing minutes for their 35th win since Jan. 1 — tops in the Eastern Conference.

They pulled this one out even though they got dominated by Drummond, who scored 26 and tied a career-high with 26 rebounds.

Rodney Stuckey scored 22 points and Brandon Jennings added 17 but the Pistons lost for the 18th time in 20 road games.

Detroit was leading 83-75 with just over 10 minutes left in the game when Gibson, who scored 11 in the fourth quarter, hit two free throws to start the decisive rally.

Augustin then nailed back-to-back jumpers to make it a two-point game, and after committing a charge, he tied it at 83 when he hit two free throws with 8:10 left.

Jimmy Butler then put the Bulls ahead with a layup after Jonas Jerebko missed a 3 for Detroit, and Chicago continued to add to it.

A three-point play by Gibson, who landed near the photographers along the baseline, and two more free throws by Augustin put the Bulls up 90-83 with 6:14 remaining.

Peyton Siva answered with a 3 for Detroit, but the Bulls stayed in control after that.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Asks Jimmy Butler to Prom Via YouTube Video]]> Sat, 05 Apr 2014 14:14:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jimmy+Butler+Struggling.jpg

A Chicago Bulls fan is hoping one player will make her prom dreams come true.

The high school senior posted a video titled “Jimmy Butler, Prom?” to YouTube Thursday in hopes that the star basketball player will be her date.

“Thousands of girls go alone to prom every year, don’t let me be one of those girls,” Maddie Roglich said in the video. “So Jimmy Butler, since you’re awesome and you’re Jimmy Butler, will you take me to prom?”

In the quirky video the teen hopes dunking a basketball will help sway her favorite player. She also holds up a sign at a Bulls game asking him to prom.

“I’m totally willing to learn how to Texas-two step or line dance if you want,” she noted in the video.

While the video has been tweeted to Jimmy Butler along with the hashtags #maddieandjimmyforprom and #promposal, it does not appear he has responded to the request.

<![CDATA[Whitney Young’s Okafor Named Co-MVP of All-American Game]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 12:18:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Okafor+McDonald%27s.png

Whitney Young’s Jahlil Okafor said he wanted to go out with a bang in his last time playing as a high school senior in the City of Chicago.

So when his West squad defeated an East team featuring Curie big man Cliff Alexander by a final score of 105-102 in the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center on Wednesday night, Okafor took home co-MVP honors.

"The game was really fun. I really wanted to play well in this game being the last time I play in Chicago as a high schooler,” Okafor said. “Coach Frank [Allocco] really challenged me to compete through the practices and the game, and I think I did that tonight."

The Duke-bound big man finished the game with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Alexander, who is headed to Kansas next season, finished with nine points and 11 rebounds while playing with a heavily taped right wrist which he injured during Tuesday night’s Powerade Jam Fest.

"It's cool," Alexander said of his injured wrist and the number of missed dunks he had on the night. "It got better since (Tuesday). It had nothing to do with the missed dunks. I just missed them. No excuses."

Marian Catholic’s Tyler Ulis, another local standout who is heading to Kentucky next season, also played well. Despite being the smallest player on the court, Ulis’ heady play was something to take notice of. He finished the game with five points, three assists and three rebounds.

Photo Credit: McDonald's All-American Game]]>
<![CDATA[Augustin Expresses Desire to Remain in Chicago]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 12:17:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DJ+Augustin+on+Thibs.png

After seemingly being written off after stops in Indiana and Toronto, DJ Augustin has quietly revived his career since coming to the Chicago Bulls in December. After 55 games with Chicago, Augustin is averaging 14.5 points, 5.1 assists and came up big in the Bulls’ victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, finishing the game with 23 points, five assists and two steals.

The point guard will be a free agent next summer and his play this season has almost assured that he will get a lot more than the $620,215 salary he’s making this season. But Augustin, reluctant to comment on where his future will take him after this year, publicly stated that he would like to remain with the Bulls.

“I would love to be back here,” Augustin said. “This organization, this team is great, and I think it’s great for me. (Thibodeau) has given me the opportunity to play and get better. It’s been great for me.”

Both his teammates and Tom Thibodeau credit the point guard’s play for the turnaround this season after Derrick Rose tore his meniscus in November, and all acknowledge and appreciate his headiness on the court.

“DJ can beat you in a lot of different ways,” Tom Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s victory. “He can beat you with the shot. He can beat you with the pass. He can beat you with his penetration. It’s a big plus having him.”

For now, DJ Augustin won’t worry about what’s going to happen beyond this season and instead will enjoy being a part of the Bulls locker room as much as they enjoy having him around.

“When the time comes,” he said, “I’ll let my agent handle it and just kind of relax.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bulls Top Atlanta 105-92]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 22:03:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/174*120/Thibs_warriors.jpg D.J. Augustin scored 23 points and the Chicago Bulls held off slumping Atlanta for a 105-92 victory Wednesday night, bumping the Hawks out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two weeks left in the season.

Chicago took control with a 16-3 run in the second quarter and led the rest of the way, fending off the last of Atlanta's runs when Jimmy Butler swished a 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining.

The Hawks lost for the 21st time in 28 games, this one dropping them slightly behind New York for the eighth playoff seed. The Knicks (33-43) routed Brooklyn 110-81 to climb percentage points ahead of Atlanta (32-42). Cleveland is also in the mix, two games out after beating Orlando.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 22 points. Atlanta hosts the Cavaliers on Friday night.

The Hawks were up 42-38 with 9 minutes left in the second quarter after Mike Muscala knocked down a couple of free throws.

Chicago took control from there, clamping down defensively and scoring 16 of the next 19 points. The Hawks missed 12 of 13 shots, forced to settle mostly for outside jumpers and botching a couple of easy ones when they did get inside. Augustin capped the spurt with a brilliant hesitation move, freezing the Atlanta defenders before bursting through a gap for an easy layup.

The Bulls led 57-49 at the half and never surrendered the advantage.

Atlanta made several runs, only to have Chicago answer every one of them. With the Hawks down 93-87 and in possession, Taj Gibson swatted away DeMarre Carroll's driving shot, the Bulls grabbed a loose ball and took off the other way, with Augustin sinking a 3-pointer that led to an Atlanta timeout.

It was another trey by Butler that finished off the Hawks — appropriate enough, since the Bulls went 12 of 25 beyond the arc. Augustin was 4 of 8 from long range, while Butler chipped in with three more.

Six players were in double figures for the Bulls, including Butler and Kirk Hinrich with 17 points apiece.

Millsap had a double-double, also grabbing 11 rebounds. Jeff Teague added 21 points for the Hawks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rondo Complimentary of the Bulls During TV Broadcast]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 12:45:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bulls+Nov+12.jpg

Rajon Rondo has not always had a warm and fuzzy relationship with the Chicago Bulls during his time as the point guard for the Boston Celtics. The All-Star has made a reputation for himself as player Bulls fans love to hate, especially during the legendary battle with Chicago during the 2009 NBA Playoffs, Derrick Rose’s rookie year.

But times change, and so do people. Rondo, who like Rose is coming off an ACL tear, played TV analyst during Monday’s game between the Celtics and the Bulls and was quite complimentary of his rival. The point guard shared nice words about Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah and his former coach, Tom Thibodeau.

"Thibs was a workaholic," Rondo said. "You never could beat him to the gym. He lived in the gym. Guy lived in the gym. I would try to get there sometimes at 6 in the morning, Thibs would be there. He's definitely putting the work in, and it's paying off here in Chicago."

Rondo said of Joakim Noah, “He pretty much fills up a stat sheet, reminds me a little of myself. He plays hard on both ends of the floor, but what I like about Joakim most: He competes every play.”

The point guard also revealed the two players now have a healthy respect of one another.

"About two years ago we came to an understanding because we were always going at it with each other. But we never really understood why,” Rondo said of Noah. “I think it's because we both love to compete. He's a guy that's going to bring it every night, and I do the same, but we don't even play the same position. So one game, we were at the free-throw line and just thought about, 'Why do we even go at each other?'"

Rondo also paid respect to Kirk Hinrich by saying he is one of the most physical guards in the NBA. Bulls fans will recall the Celtics point guard throwing Hinrich into the scorer’s table during the playoffs and a near riot ensuing on the court.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Late Push Leads Bulls Over Celtics]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 22:25:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/joakim_3-31.jpg Mike Dunleavy had 22 points to lead five Bulls in double figures and Chicago broke open a close game with 13 straight points at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 94-80 Monday night.

Joakim Noah had 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, Jimmy Butler had 18 points, Carlos Boozer 16 and Taj Gibson 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Chicago swept the home-and-home series with the Celtics after posting a 107-102 victory in Boston on Sunday.

The Celtics have lost 10 straight on the road to drop to 8-28 away from home. Their last road win was Feb. 10 at Milwaukee.

Brandon Bass and Jerryd Bayless had 18 points apiece for the Celtics.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trail Blazers Rout Bulls 91-74]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 21:50:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/thibs-1-10.jpg Mo Williams scored 18 points to lead five players in double figures as the Portland Trail Blazers won on the road for a second straight night with a 91-74 rout of the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

Damian Lillard had 16 points, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez each had 13, Wesley Matthews had 11 and Thomas Robinson added 10 for the Blazers, who won in Atlanta on Thursday after dropping the first three games of their road trip.

The Blazers got past the Bulls easily, despite a quiet night from All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, who was playing just his second game after missing two weeks with a back injury. He had five points and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes after having points and 16 rebounds in Atlanta.

Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes to lead Chicago. D.J. Augustin had 15, Taj Gibson 13 and Joakim Noah added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bulls, who had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win, lost both games of the season series and have dropped 11 of 13 overall against Portland, including five of seven at the United Center.

Before Friday, the Bulls had been 10-3 in their last 13 home games, averaging 96.8 points on 44.5 percent shooting during that span. But it was apparent early that they wouldn't approach either of those marks in this one.

Getting off to fast starts was one reason behind the Bulls' recent home success, but they were cold at the start, going 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) from the field in scoring 16 points in the first quarter. Minus Boozer's 10 points on 5-of -10 shooting, the rest of the team managed just six points on 3-of-13 shooting.

Still, the Bulls trailed just by three at 19-16 after the first quarter, but the Blazers — who were only 8-of-20 in the first quarter themselves — picked up the pace in the second quarter and began stretching the lead.

It reached double figures (37-27) midway through the quarter as Mo Williams was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and sank all three free throws. The Bulls cut the deficit in half (39-34) and had the ball with just over three minutes left in the first half. Noah, though, missed a jumper and Portland ended the quarter on an 8-2 spurt for a 47-36 halftime lead.

The Blazers then took charge at the start of the third quarter, beginning the second half with a dunk by Lopez and a 3-pointer by Batum to make it 52-36. In all, Portland stretched the run to 15-2 for a 62-38 lead.

The Bulls ended the third quarter on a mini-spurt — including a three-point play on a dunk and foul by Gibson — to trim the deficit to 73-58 entering the fourth quarter.

The Bulls got the ball first in the final quarter and had a couple of inside looks on that initial possession, but came up empty. Lillard then essentially dashed any hopes of a huge rally with a 3-pointer at the other end to make it 76-58.]]>
<![CDATA[Bulls Can Clinch Playoff Spot with Knicks Loss]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:30:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Joakim+Positive.jpg

 The Chicago Bulls have exhibited strong play on the court since the All-Star break and recently passed the Toronto Raptors in the standings for third place in the Eastern Conference. With just 11 games left in the regular season, a spot in this year’s playoffs is all but a certainty.

Chicago is idle on Wednesday and won’t play again until Friday night when they host the visiting Portland Trailblazers at the United Center. However, the Bulls can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a little help from the struggling New York Knicks.

New York was blown out by the Los Angeles Lakers in a nationally televised game on Tuesday night and will face the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena tonight. Should the Knicks lose, the Bulls will clinch their sixth consecutive playoff berth and ninth in the last decade.

It’s a safe bet that there will be a number of Bulls fans rooting for the Kings on Wednesday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Derrick Rose Progresses to Non-Contact Drills]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:16:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/derrick+rose+presser.jpg Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says star Derrick Rose has been participating in non-contact drills in practice as he tries to work his way back from his second major knee injury.

Thibodeau also told reporters at practice Wednesday that the former MVP point guard will not play again this season, something the organization has said several times since he went down.

Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee at Portland in November and was ruled out for the remainder of the season by the Bulls. He sat out last year while recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.]]>
<![CDATA[Whitney Young's Okafor Named Player of the Year]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 08:53:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jahlil+Okafor.jpg

Fresh off a state championship, Whitney Young senior big man Jahlil Okafor received another honor on Tuesday. The current No. 1 high school basketball player in the country and Duke signee was named the 2014 Morgan Wooten Player of the Year. Okafor is the second consecutive boys winner from Chicago as Jabari Parker received the award in 2013.

The Morgan Wootten Award is given annually to the best male and female McDonald’s All American players who exemplify outstanding character, exhibit leadership and embody the values of being a student-athlete in the classroom and the community.

McDonald’s established the award in Wootten’s honor to pay tribute to his unprecedented achievements as a teacher and coach. The official award presentation will take place at the McDonald's All American Games awards banquet on April 1 in advance of the April 2 game at the United Center.

"I am truly honored and humbled to win this prestigious award. The Morgan Wooten Award represents integrity, sportsmanship and dedication – all traits that I try to exhibit on and off the court,” Okafor said in a press release. “Winning this award shows that when you have a dream, and when you dedicate yourself to accomplishing that dream, anything is possible." 

Photo Credit: ESPN]]>
<![CDATA[Bulls Playoff Tickets Go on Sale Friday]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 08:48:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bulls_mascot_2-16.jpg

The Chicago Bulls are headed toward their ninth playoff appearance in the last 10 years.

With just 11 games remaining in the regular season, the team recently leapfrogged the Toronto Raptors to take third place in the Eastern Conference standings and if the playoffs started today, Chicago would host the Washington Wizards in the first round.

On Tuesday, the Bulls announced that tickets for the first two rounds of the playoffs will go on sale Friday, March 28, at 11 a.m. as eight home games for rounds one and two of the postseason will be made available.

Dates, times and who Chicago will face will be announced at the conclusion of the regular season.

Tickets can be purchased at Bulls.com, NBATickets.com and the United Center box office.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jimmy Butler Pranks Fans in Illinois Lottery Commercial]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 10:10:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/JButler+Lottery.png

Jimmy Butler is quickly becoming a fan favorite with the Chicago Bulls. The Marquette University alum is not only putting his strong play on display on the court, but he is easily one of the more personable players in the locker room.

The shooting guard put his personality on display recently when he starred in an Illinois Lottery commercial and pulled a prank on two unsuspecting Bulls fans in a local restaurant.

The commercial was filmed to promote the Illinois Lottery’s newest app for the iPhone and Android, but the surprise on the fans’ faces when Jimmy Butler not only showed up but sat down to have a bite to eat with them was pretty cool.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Taj Gibson, Bulls Dominate Pacers]]> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 23:12:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bulls_pacers_3-24.jpg

Taj Gibson led five players in double figures with 23 points and the Chicago Bulls brushed off a poor offensive first half to rally for an 89-77 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

Kirk Hinrich had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, Mike Dunleavy scored 13, Jimmy Butler 12 and Joakim Noah added 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Gibson, who was 9 for 15 from the field, also had eight rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench.

The Bulls (40-31) pulled within two percentage points of Toronto (39-30) for third place in the Eastern Conference.

The win also prevented Indiana from clinching the Central Division title on Chicago's home court. The Pacers are looking to win consecutive division crowns for the second time since joining the NBA (1998-99 and 1999-2000).

The Pacers, who were led by Paul George's 21 points, have dropped three straight and six of eight on the road. They've lost four of five at the United Center, including both visits this season.

The Pacers earned a 91-79 victory over the Bulls on Friday night at Indiana.

With the NBA's top two defensive teams on the court, points figured to come at a premium, and that certainly was the case in the first half.

Neither team managed to score 20 in either of the first two quarters, and the Pacers took a 34-33 halftime lead when George Hill (12 first-half points) hit a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left.

The Bulls were 14 of 44 (31.8 percent) from the field in the first half, including 1 for 10 on 3-pointers.

Perhaps the most entertaining portion of the half came when the crowd got on Pacers center Roy Hibbert for an apparent flop, a hot topic between the teams in recent days.

On the play, Hibbert was fouled by Noah as he was beginning to go up for a shot attempt. While there definitely was enough contact to warrant a foul, it appeared to be light. Hibbert, though, dropped to the court flailing as if he had been hit by a flagrant foul.

After the replay was shown on the scoreboard, the crowd began to boo. Noah stood off to the side with a big grin on his face.

Following Friday's game in Indiana, Gibson accused the Pacers of flopping, and it was still the topic of conversation at the morning shootaround for both teams.

"I mean, I haven't taken a charge in probably four years," Hibbert said at the shootaround. "He's entitled to his opinion. I'm just going to go out there and play hard."

The Bulls finally got into an offensive rhythm in the third quarter, starting the second half with a 16-5 run to take a 49-39 lead.

A few minutes later, Indiana had cut the lead to 55-49 and George had the ball on a fast break ahead of the field. Hinrich, though, caught him from behind and looked as if he was going to give an intentional foul. Instead, Hinrich stripped the ball and the Bulls headed in the opposite direction as George complained that he was fouled.

The Bulls completed the four-point swing on Gibson's dunk to make it 57-49 with just more than 4 minutes left in the third quarter.

The Bulls took a 64-56 lead into the fourth after scoring 31 points in the third. They had balanced scoring in the quarter with Dunleavy and Hinrich each tallying seven points. Carlos Boozer, Butler and Gibson added five apiece.

The Bulls were never seriously threatened in the fourth and held on for a relatively comfortable win.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DePaul Women Upset Duke, Advance to Sweet 16]]> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 20:40:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/depaul-women.jpg Megan Rogowski scored 22 points and Megan Podkowa added 18 to help DePaul upset Duke 74-65 on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Brittany Hrynko added 14 for the seventh-seeded Blue Demons (29-6). They earned their third appearance in the round of 16 by hitting 14 3-pointers and forcing second-seeded Duke into 21 turnovers with their high-pressure defense.

DePaul will play the James Madison-Texas A&M winner on Saturday in the Lincoln Regional semifinals.

Elizabeth Williams scored 12 points, and seniors Haley Peters and Tricia Liston each added 11 in their final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke (28-7) led for only 12 seconds and became the first top-four seed to lose in the tournament.

The Blue Devils — who made four straight appearances in the regional finals — became the first No. 2 seed to lose this early since Xavier lost to Louisville in 2011.

Jasmine Penny added 11 points for DePaul, which has won 18 of 19.

Coach Doug Bruno's team was coming off a 104-100 win over Oklahoma in the first round, the highest-scoring regulation game in tournament history.

It joined Connecticut, Notre Dame and North Carolina as teams to come into Cameron this year and beat the Blue Devils.

They won this one with defense, using relentless pressure against a Blue Devils team with no healthy point guards.

Ka'lia Johnson scored 11 points and Oderah Chidom added 10 for Duke, which lost an NCAA tournament game at Cameron for the first time since 1996 and was denied its 17th regional semifinal berth in 18 years.

Duke had one last chance to make things interesting after Liston hit a layup after a steal to make it 67-60 with 1:45 left and Hrynko missed the front end of a one-and-one.

But Penny blocked Liston's layup, and after the teams traded turnovers, DePaul bled the clock before Duke fouled Jessica January with 1:09 left.

Liston's 3 went in and out, and Rogowski hit two free throws with 42.1 seconds left to push the lead back to 10.

Duke had closed to 49-46 on Chidom's layup with 7 minutes left.

Penny countered with a jumper in the lane and Hrynko followed with a 3 in front of the DePaul bench — and afterward held her shooting hand high for a moment.

Rogowski, who finished with six 3s, hit one to push the lead to 57-48 — the seventh time the Blue Demons countered a Duke bucket with a 3 — and she then gave DePaul a double-figure lead on its next possession with two free throws with 5:02 left.

By then, Duke was on its way to dropping to 21-2 in NCAA tournament games at Cameron.

Photo Credit: depaulbluedemons.com]]>