Growing pains on full display as Bulls fall in preseason opener

SHARE Growing pains on full display as Bulls fall in preseason opener

There were moments.

Then again, that was to be expected heading into Monday’s preseason opener against the Bucks.

The Dwyane Wade “from Chicago’’ entrance was met with a roar from the United Center crowd. The offensive flurry to start the game that put Milwaukee in an 8-0 hole couldn’t have been scripted any better. Jimmy Butler’s aggressiveness in getting to the free throw line looked to be in midseason form.

Heck, Wade even did his best to silence critics that felt like he was allergic to hitting three-pointers, nailing both that he took in the first half.

So those moments were definitely alive and well.

The concern with this latest version of the Bulls, however, is will they be capable of having enough moments this season?

That’s what continues to keep coach Fred Hoiberg up at night.

That 8-0 lead was quickly erased. Turnovers and blown defensive assignments that were seen far too often last season once again made themselves right at home, and the bench continued to look inconsistent.

Cup half full? Opening night jitters in the 93-91 loss.

Cup half empty? Same old diminishing product.

“Obviously it will take time,’’ Butler, who finished with 13 points, said. “But I think we’re buying in, we’re studying each other’s games, and we’re talking about everything out there. Even when practice is over we’re watching film and talking about how we can make each other better.

“I think that’s the big thing. How can we make each other shine out there on the floor?’’

Playing with the intensity the starting group did early on was a good start.

Taj Gibson, who got the start ahead of Nikola Mirotic, tipped off the night the right way, hitting a short jumper for the first basket of the new preseason, and then Butler, Robin Lopez and Rajon Rondo each took turns making baskets for the 8-0 run.

Eight turnovers in that first quarter, however, put the Bulls (0-1) in a 25-21 hole after 12 minutes, and by the half they had 12 turnovers and were down 13.

Wade, who finished with six points, expected some growing pains from this group, as most of the roster has been trying to learn a new system.

“I’m trying to catch up,’’ Wade said. “It’s a lot of stuff. This is all new to me. I’ve been in one place 13 years, so everything is new. I’m out here like the young guys trying to figure it out. Obviously I do pick it up fast because I’ve been doing it so long, but when you’re competing, we’re all competitive and there are times when everyone gets frustrated.

“Everyone’s helping each other out, and that’s the way it has to be.’’

Wade, who spent the previous 13 NBA seasons in Miami, had more than just learning a new system to deal with Monday. He was also dealing with his first debut with the hometown team he grew up idolizing.

However, the 34-year-old said that wasn’t an issue.

“For me, it’s just another preseason game,’’ Wade said. “Everything for me is different surroundings. But it’s still basketball. Nothing has changed from that standpoint.’’

And as if the final score wasn’t disappointing enough, the Bulls also saw Denzel Valentine’s night cut short, when the rookie had to leave the game with a sprained left ankle.

According to Hoiberg the injury was not deemed serious.

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