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April 2011 Archives


Carlos Boozer's bruised toe was improved Saturday, but he did not practice with the Bulls. Coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn't say Boozer will play when the Bulls open Round 2 of the playoffs against Atlanta Monday, but seems optimistic Boozer will be ready.
``He was better today, but he's not quite ready to go yet,'' Thibodeau said. ``We just go day by day, we'll see how he feels tomorrow. He's doing his lifting, getting treatment, did a little bit of shooting.''
Derrick Rose expects to see the injured forward, also rode a stationary bike Saturday, in the lineup Monday night.
``For sure, he's going to play,'' Rose said, adding that Boozer remains confident despite a sub-par series vs. Indiana. ``He's Booz when he comes in. He's talking, shooting the ball, doing his routine. Nothing's changed.
``He's going to be good,'' Rose added. ``He's been looking at film, seeing how aggressive he was in some games. That's all we're telling him to do, be aggressive and just play his game. He's been in this league long enough to be able get himself out of a little slump.''

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer did not practice Thursday, but his turf toe injury is improving and coach Tom Thibodeau is hopeful he will play in Game 1 of the Bulls' Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night at the United Center.

Boozer suffered the injury in the second quarter of Game 5 against the Indiana Pacers on
Tuesday night. When the Bulls returned to the practice floor at the Berto Center on Thursday, he received treatment for the injury, lifted weights and watched practice.

Asked if he expected Boozer to play, Thibodeau said, ''It's hard to say, but I'm thinking he will be able to.

''He's getting quite a bit of treatment. He's getting rest. Doing some lifting and things like that. The big thing is he feels a lot better today than he did yesterday.''

Atlanta guard Kirk Hinrich, who would give the Hawks some defensive stability against the Bulls, was scheduled to undergo an MRI Friday on his right hamstring. The former Bull strained the hamstring on a drive to the back with about three minutes to go in the Hawks' 84-81 victory over Orlando Thursday.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has mentioned Hinrich as one of the NBA's thorniest defenders for Derrick Rose. If Hinrich is out or limited, another former Bull, Jamal Crawford, is likely to see an expanded role.
Crawford is coming off a big series vs. Orlando. He averaged 20.5 ppg on 43.5 percent three-point shooting in the six-game series.

* Gametimes have been set for the first four games with Atlanta.
Game 1 will be at 7 p.m. Monday (TNT).
Game 2 will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday (TNT).
Game 3 will be at 6 p.m. next Friday (ESPN).
Game 4 will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 8 (TNT).


So Atlanta, which polished off Orlando Thursday, is up next for the Bulls. Round 2 begins Monday.
The Bulls were 2-1 against Atlanta during the regular season. All three games were played in March.
Here are capsules of how the regular-season meetings went:

* Bulls lose 83-80 on March 2 in Atlanta
The Bulls opened a 14-0 lead before the Hawks knew what hit them, and led 44-25 with 2:40 left in the first half, but blew a 19-point lead.
``We couldn't get stops and we couldn't score,'' coach Tom Thibodeau said after the meltdown.
`This game was definitely on me,'' Derrick Rose said. ``I was missing shots I normally hit, I made some dumb, careless passes. I didn't step up like I was supposed to. But I guarantee it won't happen again.''
Trust me, it wasn't all on DRose.

* Bulls win 94-76 on March 11 in Chicago.
After spending two days getting round-the-clock treatment for a bruised left thigh, Luol Deng had 18 points and nine rebounds and seven assists as Carlos Boozer sat out with a sprained ankle.
``Luol was tremendous,'' Thibideau said. `You can't ask for anything more. And then Derrick was Derrick in the second half. He just took it over.''
Rose finished with 34 points, 24 of them in the second half, 18 of them in a spectacular third quarter. And the Bulls needed that.

* Bulls win 114-81 on March 22 in Atlanta.
The Bulls won their 10th in 11 games overall, and their seventh in their last nine road games, with a sensational first half.
With the 19-point second-quarter lead they blew in an 83-80 loss here on March 2 on their minds, the Bulls erupted for a 72-43 halftime lead, the most points they have scored in a half this season.
``When we got the lead, we were just telling each other, it's not going to happen again,'' said Rose, who had 30 points and 10 assists.
Deng had 27 points. And second-unit anchor Taj Gibson shrugged off a painful turf-toe injury on his right big toe to contribute nine points and eight rebounds.
``You can't say enough about what Luol does for our team,'' Thibodeau said. ``Oftentimes, it goes unnoticed, but to none of us. The way he's playing is spectacular.''
The Bulls, who pounded on Sacramento 132-92 on March 21, posted consecutive wins by more than 30 points for the first time since Jan. 10 and 11, 1995.


So Atlanta, which polished off Orlando Thursday, is up next for the Bulls. Round 2 begins Monday.
The Bulls were 2-1 against Atlanta during the regular season. All three games were played in March.
Here are capsules of how the regular-season meetings went:

* Bulls lose 83-80 on March 2 in Atlanta
The Bulls opened a 14-0 lead before the Hawks knew what hit them, and led 44-25 with 2:40 left in the first half, but blew a 19-point lead.
``We couldn't get stops and we couldn't score,'' coach Tom Thibodeau said after the meltdown.
`This game was definitely on me,'' Derrick Rose said. ``I was missing shots I normally hit, I made some dumb, careless passes. I didn't step up like I was supposed to. But I guarantee it won't happen again.''
Trust me, it wasn't all on DRose.

* Bulls win 94-76 on March 11 in Chicago.
After spending two days getting round-the-clock treatment for a bruised left thigh, Luol Deng had 18 points and nine rebounds and seven assists as Carlos Boozer sat out with a sprained ankle.
``Luol was tremendous,'' Thibideau said. `You can't ask for anything more. And then Derrick was Derrick in the second half. He just took it over.''
Rose finished with 34 points, 24 of them in the second half, 18 of them in a spectacular third quarter. And the Bulls needed that.

* Bulls win 114-81 on March 22 in Atlanta.
The Bulls won their 10th in 11 games overall, and their seventh in their last nine road games, with a sensational first half.
With the 19-point second-quarter lead they blew in an 83-80 loss here on March 2 on their minds, the Bulls erupted for a 72-43 halftime lead, the most points they have scored in a half this season.
``When we got the lead, we were just telling each other, it's not going to happen again,'' said Rose, who had 30 points and 10 assists.
Deng had 27 points. And second-unit anchor Taj Gibson shrugged off a painful turf-toe injury on his right big toe to contribute nine points and eight rebounds.
``You can't say enough about what Luol does for our team,'' Thibodeau said. ``Oftentimes, it goes unnoticed, but to none of us. The way he's playing is spectacular.''
The Bulls, who pounded on Sacramento 132-92 on March 21, posted consecutive wins by more than 30 points for the first time since Jan. 10 and 11, 1995.

Regardless of how effective Derrick Rose is on his sprained left ankle, the Bulls want to stick to their principles, rather than having other players try to take up any slack and get too fancy.
``We all have to be aggressive, but we have to take what's there,'' guard Kyle Korver said. ``We don't need anyone to feel like they have to make up for Derrick if he's not 100 percent, to feei like they have to take more shots or be more aggressive
``We all have to be more aggressive, but that doesn't mean we have to go one on one. We just have to work it as a team.''
Despite limiting his activity at the Bulls' shootaround Tuesday morning, Rose remained optimistic he'll be able to play.


Derrick Rose sat out practice Monday to rest his sprained left ankle, but he has no intention of missing Game 5 Tuesday, when the Bulls, who lead the Indiana Pacers 3-1, try to finish off this first-round playoff series.
``It's not broke, so I'm definitely going to be playing,'' Rose said, adding that he'll receive a pain-killer shot before the game. ``I'm getting one for sure.''
Rose said he has taken shots twice before in his three-year Bulls career: ``My rookie year, my wrist was messed up and I got a shot. And last year, I had to get a shot in my back.''
Did it affect his performance? ``No.''
Rose said he is encouraged by the progress he's seen in the ankle, which he sprained late in the first quarter of Game 4 on Saturday. He returned quickly and wound up playing 43-1/2 minutes in that game, but his shot wasn't. He was 3 for 16 from the field in the final three quarters after going 3 for 6 before the injury.
``I just missed shots,'' Rose said. ``I could say it was my ankle, but there's no excuses when you're playing. That's the way I think about it.''
Rose, whose shots were consistently short after the injury Saturday, is confident he'll be able to adjust his shot on Tuesday.
``Just legs and follow through,'' he said. ``I have a lot of confidence In my shot. That night I was just off.''


INDIANAPOLIS--Now that the Bulls hold a 3-0 lead, many people will assume they're going to wrap up their best-of-seven series with the Indiana Pacers in Game Four on Saturday.
The Bulls are not among those people.
``A close-out game is the hardest game to win, because they've got nothing to lose,'' said Carlos Boozer, who's been through a few close-out games in his career. ``We expect their best game.''
Here's another reason: Even though the Bulls are 3-for-3, each game has been a nail-biter that could have gone either way in the final moments.
``They're going to come out firing,'' Korver said. ``We're going to have to play well.''
Chicago sports fans need look no further than the Blackhawks, who have won a pair after being down 3-0, to know that strange things can happen in playoffs.
On the other hand, basketball isn't hockey, where surprises are more common. And unlike the Blackhawks, the Pacers are a young team that's still feeling its way, not the defending champions coming off a difficult regular season.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers point guard Darren Collison, who suffered a sprained left ankle in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round series with the Bulls, will be a "game-time decision" for Game 3. But if it's up to him, he's playing.

''[I'm] optimistic,'' Collison said Thursday after participating in the Pacers' shootaround at Conseco Fieldhouse -- his first activity since suffering the injury Monday night. ''It'll be one of those things where I test it [prior to the game] and go. I think my adrenaline will be up, though. The energy, the excitement of trying to play in Game 3. It's a playoff game. I don't know where I'm going to get my chance again, so I'm definitely going to be up for it.''

Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Collison looked "pretty good" at the shootaround, but he'll wait to see how Collison looks in pregame warmups before deciding whether he'll play.

''He wants to play very badly,'' Vogel said. ''If it's up to him, it's a no-brainer. We just have to make sure he's effective.''

Tyler Hansbrough's agitator style has made him Pacer Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of Bulls fans.
But after a playful initial response, Joakim Noah said Hansbrough's physical defense is all part of the game.
``Hansbrough's a dirty guy? Do you mean dirty, as in he doesn't take showers?'' Noah said.
No. Dirty, as in taking cheap shots.
``I don't think so,'' Noah said. ``That's just the way the game's played right now. Nothing easy to the basket. When you have a little point guard going in there every time the way Derrick is going in there, you don't want to be on the highlights reel. So you have to give a hard fouI. It's just the way of the game.
``It's frustrating, because you never want Derrick getting hit like that. But it's the name of the game right now.''
Meanwhile, Carlos Boozer wanted nothing to do with Psycho T's chatter about X-rated trash talking.
``I'm not going to repeat anything; you'd have to use a lot of bleeps and then there wouldn't be much to say,'' Hansbrough said. ``You try to limit [the backtalk], but sometimes you get frustrated and slip up and say something you shouldn't have.''
Boozer's response?
``I'm not commenting on that,'' he said, his game face already on at the Bulls' Thursday morning shootaround.
He did indicate it's not a Duke-North Carolina thing: ``I have no problem with where he went to school at.''

Former Bulls guard Steve Kerr, who knows a little bit about the grind of the NBA playoffs, having won five championship rings in his 14-year career, said the Bulls "are still one player away from being a true championship team" in an interview on the "Silvy & Waddle Show" on WMVP-AM 1000 on Wednesday.

"I think Boston would have an edge over them for sure. I think Miami would be really interesting and probably be an even matchup," said Kerr, now an analyst for TNT's NBA broadcasts. "To me, the Bulls are still one player away from being a true championship team.

"Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they're good enough to do it right now. But to expect them to take this step from never having won a playoff series with this group to winning the NBA championship ... I think that's a little far-fetched."

The Bulls don't know yet whether Indiana point guard Darren Collison will play--and how limited he'll be if he plays. But Collison, who has vowed to play if he's any position to do so, sat out practice Wednesday, prompting Vogel to call him ``doubtful'' for tonight.
With A.J. Price and T.J. Ford stepping in, Indiana carried on well after Collison went down with a sprained left ankle a couple of minutes before halftime of Game Two. But it would be Advantage, Bulls, if Collison, who was doing a really good job against Derrick Rose, is unable to keep that pressure on.
``They'll definitely miss him if he's out,'' Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin said. ``With his energy, he makes Derrick play on both ends of the court. He's definitely a big piece of what they're doing.''
That said, the Bulls know that their No. 1 seed and Indiana's No. 8 seed don't mean much when the games begin. With or without Collison, the Pacers, who pushed the Bulls to the brink before coming up short in the first two games, are a dangerous young team.
``I don't think people realize how good a team Indiana is,'' Griffin said. ``We don't want to sell them short and say we're playing bad. I just think they're playing great. Give them credit. They pushed us to the limit twice on our home court. We'll try to return the favor and play well on their home court.''

If the Bull series vs. Indiana requires a Game 5, it would have an 8:30 tipoff under all but one of the league scenarios released Wednesday. If the Celtics-Knicks series does not go to five games, the Bulls and Pacers will tip off at 7 p.m. at the United Center.

Ordinarily, going on the road, especially during the playoffs, is considered perilous. In the case of the Bulls, getting away from their adoring home city might be a good team-building exercise.
That seems to be the message coach Tom Thibodeau is sending his team.
``Just play together,'' Derrick Rose said Tuesday when asked to sum up the coach's thoughts. ``Have belief, knowing that when we go into this environment the next couple of days, it's going to be unbelievable. We're going to have to be at war.
``There's going to be fire, we're going to have to walk through it together. Everybody's going to have to stay on board and play together, and stay positive.''
COLLISON HOPEFUL: Despite walking with a limp at the Pacers film session in Indianapolis, point guard Darren Collison said he's prepared to play in Game Three Thursday if it's feasible.
``If I'm at 60 to 70 percent, I'm going to play," Collison told the Indianapolis Star. ``This is the playoffs. I was disappointed I couldn't get in the game in the second half, but it's unfortunate it happened.''
Collison was sidelined by a sprained his left ankle when he stepped on a cameraman along the baseline after making a layup late with about 2-1/2 minutes left in the first half of Game Two on Monday.
``I don't know if he's going to be able to [play] or not,'' interim coach Frank Vogel said. ``We have to go in preparing to be without him.''
With A.J. Price and T.J. Ford stepping in for the second half, Indiana was only down 90-88 with 23 seconds left in its 96-90 loss to the Bulls Monday.
``They have quality depth at the point,'' Thibodeau said. ``Collison's had an excellent year. Price has played well. And T.J. Ford has been good in this league for a long time.''
CAMERAMEN, BEWARE: There's no avoiding cameramen on the baseline, Rose said.
``If they're right there and I'm running, they're getting run over,'' he said. ``I'd feel bad for the camera guy, but there's no way I can stop.''

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff's samba was no match for Derrick Rose's second-consecutive playoff mambo Monday night.

In a stunning upset, Game 2 of the Bulls-Pacers Eastern Conference first-round series Monday night beat ABC mega-hit "Dancing With The Stars" 18.51-17.39 in television ratings, according to Comcast Sports Net.

The Bulls-Pacers game, which was televised by both Comcast and TNT, drew a combined rating of 18.51, with a 21.45 "peak" rating at 11:15 p.m. -- just about the time the game concluded, according to Comcast. That equates to 751,308 homes in the Chicagoland area.

Comcast Sports Net will broadcast Game 3 of the Bulls-Pacers series Thursday night, with a pregame show beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.

Korver (5-for-5) red-hot at the right time

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Kyle Korver hit just 29 percent of his three-point shots (11-of-38) in the Bulls' final 12 regular-season games. But he's 5-of-5 on three-pointers in Games 1 and 2 of the Bulls' playoff series with the Indiana Pacers.

Korver hit another clutch three-pointer in Game 2, nailing a shot from the corner that gave the Bulls a 90-85 lead with 1:04 to play in the fourth quarter. His three-pointer in Game 1 broke a 99-99 tie with 48 seconds left.

"I'm getting some really good looks and I'm just trying to get my feet set and hit the open shot," said Korver, an eight-year veteran from Creighton and Pella, Iowa.

After committing 21 turnovers and shooting 39 percent from the field against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, the Bulls aren't ignoring their less-than-stellar play in the Games 1 and 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. But they do have a point -- they're still up 2-0.

"We're not concerned. We're not,'' insisted Bulls forward Luol Deng. "Indiana's a good team. We're finding ways to win. Even though we know we're not playing our best basketball, this is the playoffs. Teams don't make the playoffs that can't play.

"We're going to make mistakes out there. And maybe everybody is expecting us to blow out Indiana, but I keep saying, this is a very good team. This series we have to lock in and focus. It might be all close games. Every game is going to be a different story. [Monday night] it was turnovers. We were sloppy. So we have to watch tape and fix those things. As long as we don't repeat the same problem, I think we'll be making progress."

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