Bulls find touch on threes in road win; Jimmer Fredette likely go join team
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter March 1, 2014 1:02AM
Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) is fouled by Dallas Mavericks center Samuel Dalembert (1), of Haiti, during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/John F. Rhodes) ORG XMIT: TXJR106
DALLAS — Call it an early outbreak of Jimmer Fever.
It had to be something.
That the Bulls shot 47 percent (9-for-19) from three-point range in Friday’s 100-91 victory against the Dallas Mavericks was more aberration than trend.
Especially for a team that entered the night 27th in the league in three-point shooting, hitting just 34 percent from beyond the arc.
All that happened 24 hours before the Bulls could be adding sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette to the roster.
A league source confirmed that the former Sacramento Kings guard, who had his contract bought out and was expected to clear waivers by 4 p.m. Saturday, was all in for signing with the Bulls at the prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum.
And there was at least one Bull ready to welcome him with open arms.
As a freshman at New Mexico during the 2010-11 season, rookie Tony Snell ran into Fredette three times. The last was the most memorable, but definitely didn’t end well.
In the Mountain West Conference semifinals, Fredette dropped 52 on the Lobos, including seven threes.
“That would be pretty cool,’’ Snell said of the idea of playing alongside Fredette. “I mean after playing against him, to be on the same team, that would be nice.’’
Fredette, who was the 10th overall pick by the Kings in 2011, has averaged only 5.9 points for the Kings this season, but never really found a place in a team that had seemingly been in disarray since he arrived.
What can’t be overlooked is that Fredette was a career 40 percent shooter from the three-point line, including 36-for-73 (49.3 percent) this season.
“I definitely thought he was going to be a legit NBA scorer,’’ Snell said. “I’m not sure what’s happened with him, but every situation is different.’’
And no situation might be better than the Bulls.
Like Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and D.J. Augustin, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has a proven track record in resurrecting careers and getting the most out of his players.
“The more shooting you have, the more it opens up the floor,’’ Thibodeau said. “We feel that’s an area of need.’’
Just not on Friday, as the Bulls’ (32-26) hot streak continued, now winners of eight of their last nine, and the long-ball was instrumental.
Trailing by one with just under five minutes left, Mike Dunleavy’s three gave the Bulls a 87-85 lead. Then the game was turned over to the defense. The Bulls went on a 7-0 run, while the Mavs (36-24) were held scoreless until Dirk Nowitzki scored with just 1:02 left.
“It seemed to give us a little boost there,’’ Dunleavy said of his three. “After that went in we didn’t really look back. We had a bunch of stops, able to score the ball, and kind of ran away with it.’’
Monta Ellis hit a three-pointer with 24 seconds left to cut it to five, but Dunleavy all but iced the game with two free throws with 17 seconds left, finishing with 16 points.
“There is a commitment from each player to each other to not let the group down,’’ Thibodeau said of the latest victory. “That’s when something special can happen. Who knows where the ceiling is with our team?’’