NBA suspends season after player tests positive
This was certainly a textbook example of "life comes at you fast."
On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Golden State would play Brooklyn in an empty arena Thursday, due to concerns about spread of the coronavirus.
A few hours later, the NBA suspended the season. They played most of the games scheduled for Wednesday, but everything else is canceled until further notice.
The turning point was Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert preliminarily testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. The Thunder-Jazz game was about to tip off in Oklahoma City when someone from a team medical staff ran onto the floor, spoke to referees and the game was postponed. Gobert was not at the arena, but Thunder and Jazz players reportedly are under quarantine.
ESPN reported Gobert was in OKC and was planning to play had he been cleared medically.
The league released a statement that confirmed the news and read, "The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of (Wednesday's) schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic."
Five other NBA games were played as scheduled Wednesday with spectators in the stands. What happens next is unclear, but there could be a break of a few weeks before play resumes.
The Bulls did not practice Wednesday before flying to Orlando for the start of a two-game Florida road trip. Their next scheduled home game is Sunday night against Boston. The Bulls were deciding whether to spend the night in Orlando or fly home, according to a team spokesperson.
Except for all interviews being held outside the locker rooms, Tuesday's Bulls-Cavaliers game at the United Center seemed like business at usual. If anything, it was a bigger crowd than one would expect -- 17,837 for two bad teams on a weeknight.
Ticket-holding fans will get refunds. Players will survive quiet gyms if games are played with no spectators. The people hit hardest will be game-day employees, such as concession workers, who will lose income.
It's important to remember these precautionary measures aren't being done necessarily because people are in grave danger. The idea is to stop the virus from spreading quickly and overwhelming the medical community.
Milwaukee center Robin Lopez brought some humor to a tough situation. He tweeted, "If we don't have fans, we don't need mascots ... has COVID-19 done what I couldn't?"
The longest running joke in the NBA is Lopez's feud with any and all opposing mascots, which now includes his former friend Benny the Bull.
Hutchison out for year
The Bulls announced Tuesday that second-year forward Chandler Hutchison will have arthroscopic surgery next week on his injured right shoulder, so he is officially done for the season.
Hutchison showed some promising signs but played in just 44 and 28 games during his two seasons due to a variety of injuries. Figuring out how to lower the number of long-term injuries will be a major concern for the Bulls this summer.
Hutchison has another year left on his rookie deal, but the Bulls should probably pass on the fourth-year option and maybe consider having him spend more time in the G-League next season until he shows some durability.
Likewise, they might want to plan on Otto Porter being a part-time player next season. They'll also have a tough decision to make on restricted free agent Kris Dunn, who has played in 52, 46 and 51 games in three seasons with the Bulls.
Threes vs. twos:
It feels like the Bulls have adjusted the offense as the season progressed to open up more midrange shots. It's been clear that Zach LaVine, Coby White and Lauri Markkanen are more comfortable when working some midrange jumpers into their arsenal.
But the numbers don't indicate much of a difference.
From October through December, the Bulls ranked eighth in the league in 3-point attempts. From Feb. 1 on, they rank 13th. But the average 3-point attempts have dropped just slightly, from 35.4 to 35.1 per game.
One thing that has improved is their effective field-goal percentage, which takes into account whether a made basket is worth 2 or 3 points. The Bulls ranked 28th in October at 46.7 percent and improved to eighth in February at 55.1 percent.
By the way, the Bulls are 10-8 when shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range this season, 12-35 when they don't.
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls
Bulls game dayBulls vs. Orlando Magic, 6 p.m. at the Amway Center
TV: NBCSCH • Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: These teams have met just once this season, back on Dec. 23 when the Bulls had a chance to tie the Magic for eighth place in the East. Orlando won that night 103-95 and now the Bulls are 8 games out of eighth place. ... The Magic (30-35) has won three straight and eight of its last 12. ... Orlando is led by C Nikola Vucevic with 19.5 points and 11.0 rebounds, SG Terrence Ross (14.8 points) and PF Aaron Gordon (14.4 points). Two ex-Bulls are backup guards, D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams. ... Second-leading scorer Evan Fournier is out with an elbow injury, while PF Jonathan Isaac (knee) is done for the year.
Next: Miami Heat, 7 p.m. Saturday at American Airlines Arena
-- Mike McGraw