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November 2012 Archives

No Bull: Game 14 - vs. Dallas

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tt.jpgVintage Tom Thibodeau on Wednesday, as the Bulls head coach sent a harsh message to his team, without coming out and saying it. That message: Stop the excuses and quit whining.
"Well, I believe mental toughness is critical, and when you face adversity you've got to be mentally tough to get through that,'' Thibodeau said after the afternoon shoot-around. "You got to find ways to win. Everyone has circumstance that they're down players, injuries, trades, free agents, whatever it is. I just want us to play with a lot of toughness. And I think we can get that done.''
At least one person does.
Coming off a Milwaukee game in which the Bulls had a meltdown of epic proportions, the feeling going into the Dallas game is it's about finishing games. Up 27 points with 2:50 left in the third to the Bucks, only to lose that game? That doesn't happen with Thibodeau teams very often, and the players know that.
"It's like a drill instructor,'' forward Taj Gibson said of Thibodeau and what he's been preaching the last two days since the loss. "Every day we go over the same stuff, but eventually it's going to click. Even like that tough loss, we've just got to learn close games out better and never underestimate anybody. We just got to roll over and take it. Like [Thibodeau] said, we messed up, he messed up, we learn from it and move on.''

Three keys in that moving on process?

1. Time for the second unit to step up on defense - Gibson admitted that newcomers like Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson and Valdimir Radmanovic are still playing catch-up on the defensive side of the ball. If that improves, they see minutes. If it doesn't, they don't. It needs to improve, however, especially almost a month into the regular season now.
"At times it's been different because they're still figuring out the defensive sets, the defensive slides,'' Gibson said of life with the bench players. "They don't understand that in the fourth quarter we're used to just locking down on D. The fourth quarter has mostly been the backbones of our team, knowing that we don't let anybody score in the fourth, so it's still a long ways to go and we'll eventually get it.''

2. Sweep the leg! - You have an opponent down, you finish him. The Bulls have had a step-on-the-throat mentality for the past two seasons, and need to get that back. It can't wait for Derrick Rose to comeback, either.
"Really, we're not even thinking about [Rose],'' Gibson said. "We're thinking about getting everybody good reps, everyone getting better, guys watching film, guys understanding we have to do more, including myself, just do more. In times like this you can't really focus on when [Rose] gets back because you really never know when that time is. We have a long season, we're fighting for games and playoff position early in this season.''

3. Keep Boozer going - Carlos Boozer has been a force the past few games, and whether Bulls fans believe it or not, they need Boozer more than he needs them. He's as go-to as they have right now.

2012-02-23.jpgIf it was actually a true Twitter battle, Drew Gooden won. TKO.

Considering the Milwaukee Bucks power forward convinced a Bulls fan to throw a Kirk Hinrich jersey in the toilet and take a picture of it for two tickets to the Monday night game between the two? That's the game-winner right there.

It started on Sunday, when Gooden, who played two seasons with the Bulls, tweeted out "Just made it to Chicago. Bulls tomorrow payback's a b----.''

Bulls center, and Gooden's close friend, Joakim Noah then fired back: "Quit clownin and eat your food goodybagz.''

Then it was Gooden's turn, as he tweeted to Noah, "Heard you eating @PGChangs tonight. Don't get the chopsticks tangled in your wig.''

Gooden eventually decided to have a Twitter contest for his game tickets, calling for a fan to throw his Bulls jersey in the toilet and then send the picture out on Twitter. @Kruppsanity won, sending in a Hinrich jersey, sitting soaked in a toilet.

"They're in the ticket box right there if you want to get them on tape,'' Gooden insisted an hour before the game, showing that he honored his contest by putting two tickets under Zack Krupp's name. "I hated for it to be Kirk, but it's all fun and games.''

Gooden admitted that he was trying to bring some excitement to the game, especially with it be an early-season battle for first place.

But the bigger picture for Gooden and the rest of the Bucks was that while Derrick Rose is sidelined and still recovering from left anterior cruciate ligament surgery, this is the time to get the Bulls.

"I think definitely,'' Gooden said. "More than just Derrick Rose, the team they had last year, losing Omer [Asik], losing [Kyle] Korver, [Ronnie] Brewer, those guys, I think the make-up of the team as a whole is a little different. And then not having Derrick Rose is a real different make-up of the team, so to get a game against the Bulls right now, and vice-versa for them, to get games without Derrick Rose, is something you look forward to.''

JoakimNoah11-4.jpgThere is a backstory behind the perceived Twitter war going on between the Bulls' Joakim Noah and Milwaukee's Drew Gooden.
With Noah, there always seems to be a backstory.
It started on Sunday, when Gooden tweeted out "Just made it to Chicago. Bulls tomorrow payback's a b----.''
Noah then fired back: "Quit clownin and eat your food goodybagz.''
Then it was Gooden's turn, as he tweeted to Noah, "Heard you eating @PGChangs tonight. Don't get the chopsticks tangled in your wig.''
All the makings for a serious showdown tonight, when the Bucks and Bulls meet for a second time in three days, right?
"What's the story behind that? He wants a Twitter war so I gave him a Twitter war,'' Noah explained after afternoon shoot-around on Monday.
Then he let the cat out of the bag.
"Nah, I love that guy, man. That's my guy,'' Noah said of Gooden, who has been inactive anyway. "That's my best friend, man. Yeah, my best friend.''
That doesn't mean there's nothing to watch as far as Bulls-Bucks tonight:

1. Rippin' it - Because Milwaukee's backcourt is so small, head coach Tom Thibodeau took advantage of that by posting up Rip Hamilton in the Saturday win. Expect the same look early on to see how Milwaukee reacts.
"Yeah, but the thing is they're such a great team defensive team,'' Thibodeau said. "They guard every situation with five guys, so the responsibility is to make the right play. If you're one-on-one and you have a good shot we want you to take it. If the second defender comes and there's help, we want you to hit the open man. The pressure is to execute and make the right play.''

2. Love for the Boozer - Carlos Boozer is coming off a 22-point, 19-rebound performance against Milwaukee, and had four double-doubles on the five-game road trip. Still, he can't seem to win with Bulls fans, and Noah wasn't sure why.
"Yeah, because it's hard, you win as a team and lose as a team, so as players you don't ever want to point fingers. It's just part of it,'' Noah admitted, when asked if the criticism of Boozer the past few seasons bothered him. "He's played at a very high level, especially that last game. He's a big part of what we do here. He's just got to keep going, keep fighting. When he's playing at that level we're hard to beat.''

3. Back home - The last time the Bulls played a home game was on Nov. 12, and they lost to Boston, 101-95. They are just 3-3 at the United Center so far this year, and it's time to get back to defending the house a bit better.

Facing off against Omer

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bilde.jpgHOUSTON - Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't the least bit surprised on how well Omer Asik is doing as the starting center for the Houston Rockets this season.

Asik, who received a three-year, $25.1 million contract to leave the Bulls this past offseason, was averaging 10 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, as well as being a defensive force for Houston in the middle with his shot-blocking ability and physical play.

"The thing is when you look at what he did throughout his career, in the two years in Chicago, he got significantly better, and for him he was playing behind Jo [Joakim Noah], so there weren't a ton of minutes there,'' Thibodeau explained on Tuesday. "But we felt strongly about how good he was, and we knew that. We also understood that he's got the right characteristics, the right make-up. I mean 7-feet, great drive, great character, and great intelligence. Those types of players always improve. So it's not surprising. He's getting more minutes so his production is better.''

The nice thing about having Asik for the past two years is when they do meet tonight, Thibodeau has a good sense of what the center's strengths and weaknesses are from a game-planning standpoint. Good luck getting the coach to detail them, however.

"It's not going to be an individual match-up,'' Thibodeau said. "It's his team against our team. But we know his strengths and weaknesses are, and we're concerned about how we're going to try and make it hard on their team as well. Omer is a good player, did a great job for us, we're happy for him, but we know there's a bigger challenge for us than any individual match-up.''

136451887.jpgLOS ANGELES - Tom Thibodeau started listing all the strengths that the Clippers have. It was a long list. So how did the Bulls head coach end his assessment?
"There is nothing they don't have,'' Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau and the Bulls better hope that's not the case.

Here's what the Bulls need to get done tonight against the Clippers if they want to win their second-straight road game:

1. Keep 'em grounded - The nickname says it all - "Lob City.'' The run-and-gun Clippers reside in Cali, but try and spend most of their vacation time above the rim. "Their nickname is 'Lob City,' so obviously they get up and go,'' power forward Carlos Boozer said. "[Los Angeles point guard] Chris [Paul] does a great job of getting the ball and get-up and go, pushing the ball. Getting back into transition will be a big key for us, and rebounding.'' Mostly it will be getting back on transition and limiting the Clippers on the fastbreak. The Clippers seem to feed off putting the opposition on a poster, so limit their highlights, keep their emotion and swagger in check.

2. Picked apart - Paul is the master of the pick-and-roll, not only running it, but making the good decision off of it. He can make the pass to the cutter, take the big man to the hoop on the switch, and pull up for the 15- to 17-footer for the easy basket. The Bulls point guards have to make a serious effort in forcing Paul to make the tough decision or the difficult pass. They need a high effort on defense.

3. Grind it out - The Bulls can control the game with their offense, making it a possession game by grinding the shot clock down and making the Clippers impatient. Their defense has a tendency to break down, and it could help get them out of sync offensively when the flow of the game is slower than they like.

facility_640_121116.jpgLOS ANGELES - There was a lot of "awesome'' and "it's the Bulls, baby,'' being thrown around by Carlos Boozer on Friday, when the power forward was asked about the Bulls new downtown practice facility now having an exact location and a blueprint.

It was early Friday morning that the organization announced that the facility would be built in Parking Lot J, which sits east of the United Center across South Wood Street between Monroe and Madison Streets, and was scheduled to be complete in time for the 2014-2015 season.

Boozer is one of several Bulls players that has a residence downtown, so the transition for him will be seamless.

One problem: Boozer will be heading into the final year of his contract, and might be an amnestied free agent that offseason, never stepping a foot in the new downtown home. That didn't squash his enthusiasm.

"I'm super excited, awesome,'' Boozer said. "It makes more sense, obviously with our arena being right there, to practice downtown. A few of us already have homes downtown. And the bottom line is it's the Bulls, baby. They're going to make it the best practice facility on the planet, so it's going to be awesome.''

Tom Thibodeau's hope is that it just makes the product better. While the head coach wasn't dumping on the current practice facility in Deerfield, the Berto Center opened in 1992, and times have changed. So has the game.

"The Berto Center, at the time, when they built that, I think it was the first one,'' Thibodeau said. "In many ways it still serves us well now. The court area is fantastic, but as the staffs have grown and things have changed, you know you would like a little more space.''

According to Thibodeau, the Bulls took note when the Blackhawks moved their practices closer to the United Center, and with growing traffic problems in the commute, especially on game days when they have the shoot-around at the Berto Center and then have to head downtown for the game, it just made more sense.

"The main thing for us has been the traffic issue,'' Thibodeau said. "We've put a lot of research into it and we think it's going to be an incredible facility.

"We're excited about it. I think it's going to be a state of the art facility, I think it gives our players the best chance for improvement. Obviously, we love the United Center, and now we think the practice facility will be second to none.''

derrick-rose-mvp.jpgLOS ANGELES - Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has spoken to point guard Derrick Rose in the last few days, with the team in Los Angeles, preparing to play the Clippers on Saturday night.

"We just talked to him, nothing different than what we normally do,'' Thibodeau admitted on Friday, just before the afternoon practice.

Rose has spent the past few summers working out in the Santa Monica area, and had informed the team that he had a high comfort level of working with his rehab staff in Los Angeles. While nothing has changed in his progress - he just started cutting on the court - Rose and his surgically repaired torn left ACL could make an appearance at the arena Saturday night.

"He may,'' Thibodeau responded, when asked if a certain former MVP would visit his teammates. "The main focus for him is his rehab. We felt it was best for him to be here in one place, doing his rehab. As I mentioned the other day, he's started cutting and stuff, so he's doing fine, everything is going according to plan. He just has to keep doing what he's doing.

"All I want his focus on is his rehab. I don't want him concerned with where we are with the team or anything like that. He's doing fine, and I want our guys here to be focused on improvement and our next opponent.''

facility_640_121116.jpgThe Bulls announced the location of their new practice facility on Friday, four months after the franchise first decided that they wanted to move from the current spot in Deerfield, IL., to a location closer to the downtown area.

The location planned for the new facility is Parking Lot J, which sits east of the United Center across South Wood Street between Monroe and Madison Streets. Plans for the new facility remain in development and the project, which will be funded completely by the Bulls, is scheduled for completion in time for the 2014-2015 season.

"Today's announcement is the latest example of our longstanding commitment to the City of Chicago and to our fans," Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "Investing in a modern facility for our players and coaches will help us to achieve our team's number one goal - winning championships - while also playing an important role in the city's ongoing redevelopment efforts in our West Side neighborhood.''

According to Reinsdorf, Mayor Rahm Emanuel played a big part in the idea to move the team downtown.

"Mayor Emanuel has done a tremendous job promoting investment in the City of Chicago,'' Reinsdorf said. "The Mayor stressed that the Bulls brand is important to the city, nationally and internationally, and that the Bulls represent the spirit and competitive grit of Chicago. He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to Chicago. We had been contemplating how to address the growing demands on our current practice facility for awhile, so the Mayor's timing and ours made sense.''

As far as the plans of the structure, the facility is anticipated to be approximately 55,000-square-feet in size. The firm, 360 Architects, has been selected as the lead project architect, and McHugh Construction has been named the General Contractor.

"I am pleased that the Bulls are moving their practice facilities into the City of Chicago and continuing the great work revitalizing the entire neighborhood around the United Center," said Mayor Emanuel. "The Bulls are an iconic championship team and a source of pride for our city. Their future, and the future of the West Side, is bright."

The Bulls have been practicing at the Sheri L. Berto Center since 1992, which they will now look to sell when they are ready to vacate.

"We share Mayor Emanuel's vision for the West Side and are proud that this new facility will be a major part of that vision," said President and COO Michael Reinsdorf. "Our current practice facility presented some limitations for us and as we looked to invest in the team's future, we recognized the importance of also investing in our community.''

Marquis Teague.jpgWith Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich on the bench, the Bulls not only were missing their two best point guards against the Celtics on Monday night, but ostensibly their only two point guards capable of playing Tom Thibodeau's brand of basketball.

Nate Robinson vs. Rajon Rondo is a beating waiting to happen -- and predictably, it did. And 19-year-old rookie Marquis Teague still is effectively in a glass case marked 'Open Only in Emergency.'

The emergency ensued after Rondo had his way with Robinson in the first three quarters at the United Center, scoring 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting, with six assists and four steals and seven rebounds as the Celtics led 82-70.

Tom Thibodeau said that starting point guard Kirk Hinrich was doubtful for tonight's game against the Celtics at the United Center tonight.

phil-jackson-lakers-gi.jpgNot that Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has to worry about getting fired anytime soon, but Friday's news that the Lakers canned head coach Mike Brown after just five games was yet another reminder for Thibodeau on how fragile these jobs are in the NBA.

"It's unfortunate,'' Thibodeau said on Saturday. "It's one of the tough parts about the business. Mike is a heck of a guy and a great coach, so it's disappointing, but I guess that's the way it is.

"Five games into the season, a lot of new guys? It's unfortunate. Disappointing.''

As far as the rumors coming out of Los Angeles that Phil Jackson - who coached the Bulls to six titles - would be brought back, Thibodeau said that there was very little in this game that surprised him at this point.

"Nothing would surprise me,'' he said. "Certainly [Jackson's] got a proven track record for sure. You hate to see what happen, but there are a lot of good coaches out there, too.''

stmonica.jpgRussell Westbrook was preparing for Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks in last year's first-round playoff series, when he first heard about the extent of his workout partner's injury.

Almost seven months later, the Oklahoma City point guard was still feeling awful for Derrick Rose.

"It's tough man,'' Westbrook said Thursday, before a showdown with the Rose-less Bulls. "I can't imagine what that injury or what that feels like. He was going through a tough year, being injured, and it was tough. But he's doing a great job of continuing to bring yourself back and be better the next time.''

Westbrook and Rose, and in recent years, Minnesota's Kevin Love, have all worked out with each other in the offseason, spending gym time together in Santa Monica, Calif.

Westbrook said that Rose did show up again this summer, but considering Rose was casually taking shots at that time, just three-plus months removed from surgery to repair his torn left anterior cruciate ligament, the only real interaction between the two was in conversations off the court.

"It's tough, because we've been working out together for about four years now,'' Westbrook continued. "So it was definitely a little different. But he was still in the gym, doing what he could.''

While there is no timetable for Rose's return to the court, Westbrook insisted that he's been around the Bulls star to know that when he does return it will be business as usual.

"No doubt in my mind he will,'' Westbrook replied, when asked if he thought Rose could return to MVP-form. "He works hard at what he does and he will definitely come back more determined and come back and try to be better.''

No Bull: Game 5 - vs OKC

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kevin_durant_0628.jpgBulls head Tom Thibodeau insisted after Thursday's shoot-around that every game is a measuring stick for his team. Tonight against Oklahoma City, that's a real long stick.

Here's what the Bulls would like to get done tonight against OKC:

1. The Ibaka factor - Serge Ibaka showed off his improved shooting range in the preseason against the Bulls, scoring 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, and while the Thunder have lethal weapons in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Ibaka's emergence as an improved scorer adds to the difficulty in guarding this team.
"Each year he's gotten significantly better, and it's his all around play,'' Thibodeau said of the OKC power forward. "His ability to hit open jumpers on the floor puts a lot more pressure on you, opens up driving lanes for them, and then when you're giving help, you have to be able to recover quickly in order to play both his shot and drive. That puts a lot of pressure on you.''
Durant is difficult enough to defend, so if Joakim Noah can at least neutralize Ibaka, it makes things a bit easier defensively.

2. More 3-Balls - The Bulls come into tonight's game, dead last in the Association in three-point shooting, averaging 2.8 makes a game and shooting a dismal .262 from the field. That has to get better, and against a high-scoring team like the Thunder, it needs to get better.
"I guess the way we've shot the three so far, there's only one way to go,'' Thibodeau said.

3. Let it be Westbrook - It's almost a pick your poison when playing the Thunder, but if there's one player that's shown in the past that he can single-handedly shoot his own team out of a game, it's Westbrook. He's one of the more talented point guards in the game, but gets carried away with his own offense at times, rather than staying within the team concept. The Bulls need to hope that's the case tonight.

jj-redick-three-hands.jpgTom Thibodeau is the master of keeping his hand on the card table for no one to see. So of course in perfect Thibodeau fashion he wasn't going to get sucked into any type of election talk on Tuesday.
Asked if he was keeping an eye on the election today, the Bulls coach responded, "When is it?'' Smiled and walked away.
After all, the Magic are in town and there's work to be done in the World of Thibs.

Here's what the Bulls would like to get done tonight against the Magic:

1. Put the clamps on J.J. - With Jameer Nelson [groin] not expected to play, J.J. Redick will once again get a chance for some heavy minutes, which means heavy shooting from beyond the arc. The guard is having a career-start to a season so far, averaging 22.5 points per game, including doing his usual damage from long range, hitting 6-of-8 from 3-point land. The entire Orlando lineup likes to shoot the three, but it starts with Redick, and keeping him clamped up.
"Each year he's gotten better in the league,'' Thibodeau said of Redick after the Tuesday shoot-around. "He's always been a good player, he's played extremely well for them over the years. And I think that along with his experience, he's gotten stronger, he's always been a terrific shooter. He's shown that he's a very good player.''
Expect Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton to be all over the former Duke star.

2. Pick up the pieces - There is no time to feel sorry for themselves after the loss to New Orleans, and the message in the shoot-around was once again play as a team on both sides of the ball and stay focused. Two things they didn't do against the Hornets.
"Defensively, it's our whole team tied together, and offensively it's the same thing,'' Thibodeau said. "We're not going to beat anybody individually, we have to do it collectively. We have to run a five-man offense and a five-man defense.''

3. Baby sitting - Glen "Big Baby'' Davis has had his way through the first two wins for the Magic, as they beats Denver and Phoenix, with the power forward averaging 25.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. Then again, Davis is yet to do that against an athletic frontline like the Bulls can throw at him, with Carlos Boozer expected to get the first crack at him, but Taj Gibson and Nazr Mohammed waiting in the wings. Davis is the one lethal post player Orlando has, and a must to contain. If he scores with ease inside it opens up the perimeter shooting because of the help he would draw.

anthony-davis-hornetss.jpgThere was enough disappointment to go around on Saturday night, as the homecoming of Anthony Davis had to be put on hold.

But in expressing how upset he was that the former Perspectives Charter High School standout couldn't make the trip to Chicago because of concussion-like symptoms, New Orleans coach Monty Williams took a huge swipe at the new NBA concussion rules, stating that the league might as well put their players in "white gloves and pink drawers.''

Davis, who was the No. 1 pick overall after winning a National Championship at Kentucky last season, suffered a blow to the head with 4:41 left in the first half of Friday night's eventual win over Utah. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion, which meant he couldn't fly and make the trip.

A protocol that was obviously not sitting well with Williams.

"You just do what you got to do,'' the coach explained. "We have no idea when he's going to be back. It's one of those situations where the NBA, the doctors and the medical staff feel like there's a protocol that has to take place before guys can get back on the floor, so the better he feels the next couple of days it helps the situation, but when you're dealing with the brain, I guess what's happening in football has impacted everybody.

"He got touched up a little bit [Friday] night, and I'm sure that happens a lot in basketball. It's just that now you treat everybody like they have on white gloves and pink drawers. It's just getting old, but that's just the way the league is now.''

Williams was asked about the disappointment Davis expressed in not being able to play in front of friends and family at the United Center, and again took another jab at the Association.

"Obviously he wants to play every game,'' Williams said. "I'm sure he has a lot of people here that want to see him play. This city should be proud of who he is, not just as a player, but as a person. I could tell he was down he couldn't come [Friday] night. And it wasn't any fault of his own, he wanted to come, but the rules say you can't fly, and again, it's a man's game and we're treating this guys like they're five years old. He definitely wanted to come, but he couldn't make it.''

Davis averaged 14.9 points per game through the preseason, and then put up 21 points and had seven rebounds in his regular-season debut. He had scored eight points before getting knocked out of the Utah game.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had been watching Davis on film, and was more than just a little impressed with the 6-foot-10 rookie.

"Amazing,'' Thibodeau said. "Really skilled player, he's a basketball player. He does everything. He's going to be a great pro.''

KIrving.jpgCLEVELAND - Here's what the Bulls would like to get done tonight against the Cavs:

1. Stop Kyrie - Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke about Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving during Friday morning's shoot-around, and had nothing but praise for him.
"He's a special player and he showed that last year,'' Thibodeau said. "He's a very special player because of his ability to make everyone better.''
As Irving goes, the Cavs tend to go. Goal No. 1 - make life difficult for Irving, both when he has the ball and when he doesn't.

2. The evolution of Luol - Luol Deng continues to add to his game, now getting looks in the post. Thibodeau started messing around with Deng in the post late last season, and said on Friday, "It was good for us ... I want to try and take advantage of that more.'' It's about making Deng a matchup nightmare, able to take bigger defensive players off the dribble or hit them up with a three, and taking smaller defenders down in the paint.

3. Running of the Bulls - Thibodeau liked what he saw against the Kings in the first half a far as pushing the ball up the court and looking to fastbreak on Sacramento, but thought they slowed down in the fourth. They want to look to run all 48 minutes, and will try and pressure the Cavs defenders by doing that.

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