Carter rises to occasion after another injury scare
Before Thursday's preseason finale, Bulls coach Jim Boylen announced that center Wendell Carter Jr. would be a game-time decision after tweaking his surgically-repaired left thumb at the morning shootaround.
This was unwelcome news to say the least. Carter sprained his ankle in the opening practice of training camp and shook that off, but missed the first three preseason games with a bruised tailbone. That was after the torn ligament in his left thumb cut his rookie season short and he had surgery in the summer to repair a sports hernia.
But Carter did take the court and played 22 minutes Thursday, finishing with 8 points and 8 rebounds. He had an impressive stretch in the second quarter, getting 2 blocked shots and a pair of emphatic dunks. He drew a technical foul for taunting after a one-hand slam over Atlanta's Bruno Fernando.
For the Bulls, that was nice to see, since Carter has been out for so long.
"I thought he was better today, I thought he was more active," Boylen said after the contest. "I thought his rim protection showed up today. I thought his conditioning showed up today. I thought he missed a couple bunnies that he knows he can make.
"The beauty of him is he does all these intangible things in our pick-and-roll coverages, his communication. He set the two high screens at the end of the half for Zach (LaVine). He set those two screens, Zach comes off clean, it's I think a 5-point swing. Huge plays. That's the value of him. We talked about it at halftime. That's why he's a special dude."
Jabari Parker returns:
Ex-Bulls forward Jabari Parker was Atlanta's leading scorer with 15 points Thursday. Before the game, Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce was asked if he dug into why Parker's stint with the Bulls went so poorly last season.
"Doesn't matter," Pierce said. "He's a big music fan, that's what we talked about. What do you like? What are you into? How can I help you? How can you help us? His past doesn't matter to me. He's an Atlanta Hawk, I'm not going to coach him as anything else.
"He slashed on the baseline in Milwaukee extremely well. I'm trying to incorporate that into what we do. Use some of his past to see if we can incorporate it. But we're not dwelling, I'm not dwelling. That's not my job, nor do I have any interest."
Hawks' eyes on playoffs:
Atlanta won seven more games than the Bulls last season. Are the Hawks hoping to jump into a playoff spot this year?
"We talk about it appropriately," Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. "For us to even talk about that, we have a lot of things we have to shore up. Not just, 'Playoffs, we want to make the playoffs.' What does it take to make the playoffs?
"Are you executing down the stretch? Do we know 2-for-1 situations? Do we know how to keep teams out of the bonus in the fourth quarter? All of those things are important to winning basketball games and we're learning how to win basketball games."