Bulls

Deng celebrates birthday by protecting 'little bro'

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Deng celebrates birthday by protecting 'little bro'

Sunday, April 17, 2011
Posted: 12:49 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

No wonder Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel downplayed his teams Rose Plan before the game.

Vogel didnt want the Pacers game plan to limit Derrick Rose compared to the legendary Jordan Rules the Detroit Pistons notoriously used against the Bulls over 20 years ago, but it was hard not to think of those very same old-school tactics after Saturdays Game 1, won by the Bulls, who were led by Roses 39 points.

WATCH: Game 1's great finish revisited

Derrick Rose was too much down the stretch, Vogel marveled afterwards. I look at 39 points and Im shocked that I see 39 because I thought that we did a good job, the most of the night, on him.

"The kids out of this world. Hes got Allen Iversons speed, Jason Kidds vision, Chauncey Billups shooting and Michael Jordans athleticism. How do you guard that? We did a good job on him. He was too much.

Rose earned 19 of those points the hard way, via 21 free-throw attempts, in a physical affair that led to tempers flaring throughout the contest.

It was pretty physical, but from me working out, lifting weights, I should be fine, remarked a relaxed Rose. Right now, Im feeling good and I cant wait to go eat.

If anything, youre not going to get punked. I know that Im quiet, but that doesnt mean anything and when youre out there, if you think its a dirty play, youve got to say something. If you dont, theyre going to continue to do it and Luol, a couple of my teammates, they did what theyre supposed to do, continued the soft-spoken but fiery competitor.

I knew that they were going to be that way when I went to the basket try to be physical, try to put it in my head that its going to be hard getting there and I just tried to keep going. Some calls, I didnt get and a lot of them, I did.

Chimed in Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a veteran of emotional playoff battles: Derrick was terrific all game long and to get to the line 21 times, it showed his aggressiveness and he probably could have been there a lot more, too. Thats the way it is. Thats the way its been all year. I trust that theyll make the calls and hell go to the line.

Roses teammates, however, took some exception to what they considered over-the-top physicality by the Pacers, leading to two in-game confrontations and a technical foul on normally mild-mannered Luol Deng, following Tyler Hansbroughs hard, fourth-quarter foul on Rose.

I consider Derrick like a little brother to me and when you see him getting hit like that, its tough. You want to do something about it, but weve got to keep our composure and understand that we cant let it happen all the time like that. Lu got a tech at the end. We cant have that happen either, said Joakim Noah, who with Rose, let Indiana veteran big man Jeff Foster know of his displeasure after a similar incident in the first half.

Added Deng: I dont think Tyler is a dirty player or anything, but I think its part of their game plan. When Derrick drives, instead of just fouling him, to really whack him. It happened a couple times in the first half and the last time we played them in Indiana.

Speaking of Deng who turned 26 Saturday after blanketing Pacers leading scorer Danny Granger in the first half, he turned his offense up a notch in the second half to complement Roses efforts. More important than his statistical contributions, however, might have been his exhortation of the crowd after picking up that aforementioned technical.

It was just a reaction, said Deng. Emotionally, I just stepped up. We needed the crowd behind us. That time of the game, we just needed whatever we could get and I think the crowd responded great, and it kind of got us going.

Noah, who is more known for displaying his emotions on the floor than Deng, appreciated both his teammate's energy and the United Center crowds hearty support.

This is my fourth year with Lu right now and hes playing his best basketball. I know that we wouldnt be in the position that were in right now if it wasnt for Lu. Just watching him enjoying the moment I know there have been some frustrating times for him and to see him just enjoying the game, it really helps us, said Noah, who also quipped, Its his birthday? He didnt tell me. How old is he, 42? about his longtime teammate.

Added Rose: We needed every fan in there to cheer. That really gave us the momentum in the last two minutes when we were making shots and thats a team that hasnt been playing together for a long time in their first playoff appearance. I think it got to them.

Maybe the young Pacers were rattled down the stretch, but their coach was still pleased with the performance of his squad, especially the second-year duo of Hansbrough and point guard Darren Collison, who each gave their defenders fits.

The kid Hansbrough is a big-time competitor, said Vogel. We knew they were come after us, they were going to get in our face and we took advantage of Boozer having foul trouble, and going at him. Tyler was very aggressive. He was either going to foul out or let Tyler score, and Tyler kept going at him. We had great poise. For our guys first playoff game, most of them, I thought they showed you what they were made of.".

Concurred Hansbrough: I think weve got to keep playing like we did. It gives us some confidence, but also shows us how we need to stay composed in the end and hopefully get a win.

This much is for sure: Indiana has the Bulls respect and full attention moving forward.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls' Bobby Portis publicly apologizes to Nikola Mirotic: 'I'm wrong for what I did'

Bulls' Bobby Portis publicly apologizes to Nikola Mirotic: 'I'm wrong for what I did'

Bobby Portis publicly issued an apology to Nikola Mirotic for the punch that broke two bones in Mirotic’s face and caused a concussion earlier this week.

Portis was suspended eight games by the NBA while Mirotic will be out 4-6 weeks after he goes through concussion protocol, following an incident in Tuesday’s practice where the tensions boiled over between the two power forwards.

“I'm wrong for what I did. I want to publicly apologize to Niko,” said Portis outside the Bulls locker room at the United Center, hours before the home opener against the San Antonio Spurs. “I feel like I let my fans, the Bulls organization, and most importantly my teammates down. This is not who Bobby Portis is.”

Sticking to clear talking points, repeatedly saying “we were competing” as a way to describe the incident, it was a more toned down version of Portis. Portis is usually colorful and engaging when talking to the media.

Saturday, he was muted, almost robotic in a sense. And he didn’t want to go into the incident in detail, one that many sources have said was instigated by Mirotic as the two were going back and forth physically during several possessions.

The play before, things intensified, causing assistant coach Randy Brown to step in and break things up. The next time downcourt, Mirotic apparently charged at Portis and Portis responded with one punch that sent Mirotic to the floor.

Gently choosing his words, Portis said, “We were competing and kinda went back and forth and things happened.”

When asked if he was shoved, Portis reiterated the two were competing although numerous accounts say Mirotic did push him leading up to the direct incident.

“Yes I was surprised by my own action,” Portis said. “That's not who I was, as I first stated. I'm a competitor at the end of the day but I never meant to hurt my teammate.”

Portis and Mirotic have not yet spoken, although Portis said he’s called and texted Mirotic with no response. It hasn’t been determined whether Mirotic will take legal action on Portis.

“Not concerned with that at this point,” Portis said. “At this point I’m just trying to publicly apologize to Niko and my teammates, and that I’m real sincere about the situation.”

Portis will be allowed to practice during his suspension, having returned Friday and Portis believes things can be mended with he and his teammate.

“Going forward I want to make sure that me and Niko are cool and we can be teammates again,” Portis said. “I'm pretty sure we can. We just have to repair this relationship.”

Justin Holiday said the issue will have to be addressed head on as opposed to being swept under the rug or letting the element of time naturally heal things. Whether that conversation is initiated by teammates or the coaching staff or front office, as long as both are wearing a Bulls uniform, it will be necessary.

“It hasn’t been arranged, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have to talk it out,” Portis said. “And I’m pretty sure it will be a gentle conversation. I’m pretty sure we can get past this.”

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

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AP

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

The mending hasn’t yet begun for the Bulls, but perhaps a good sign in moving forward from the Bobby Portis punch that delivered a concussion and broken facial bones to Nikola Mirotic is that it isn’t being ignored.

Fred Hoiberg is being tight-lipped about where matters stand, but he did at least say Portis returned to practice and apologized to the team Friday afternoon. Hoiberg wouldn’t reveal the contents of Portis’ apology and Portis didn’t address the media, but it’s clear things aren’t business-as-usual at the Advocate Center.

“Bobby was back at practice. It was good to have him back in here,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously, everybody’s looking forward to having Niko back in here, as well, hopefully soon.”

When asked about Portis’ spirit, Hoiberg deflected and preferred to talk about what adjustments the team will have to make in the immediate future, especially with rookie Lauri Markkanen having to go against Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge in the home opener Saturday night.

“That’s the biggest thing we have to do as far as preparing until we get our guys back, is throwing different lineups out there and hopefully getting better with our execution,” Hoiberg said.

Justin Holiday admitted that things aren’t normal, saying the actual games to start the season won’t serve as a welcome distraction because this isn’t something that can just be treated trivially.

He wouldn’t venture into getting into his teammates’ head, saying “Bobby came into today like Bobby. We’re not quite sure what he’s thinking mentally. We can’t assume that.”

But one thing that can’t be assumed is a sweeping under or pretending.

“I mean I don’t necessarily think this is a situation for us to get past,” Holiday said. “I think it’s a situation that obviously (needs) to be brought to the forefront. It’s a situation that needs to be taken care of for those two to be able to come together and be brothers again. I don’t think we’re trying to get past it.”

Holiday has been a leader during this early time, so his words and definitive tone were noticeable.

“They say sometimes you need time to heal,” Holiday said. “Again, we have to think about both situations in this. One guy is trying to get back healthy. And again, I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish we could just fix this the right way, but that’s not the case.”

It’s complicated all around, with no real precedent.

For Hoiberg, his handling has two faces. Since Portis is able to practice but has to sit out seven more games on a team-mandated suspension, he has to walk the line of incorporating Portis in daily drills and activities but also has to prepare a team that wasn’t prepared for two power forwards being out for an extended period.

That was on display Thursday as Quincy Pondexter likely played that position for the first time in his career, and it’s highly unlikely Paul Zipser practiced there at all with the depth the Bulls had until now.

“We have to get our guys ready to play positions that they haven’t played,” Hoiberg said. “We’re getting them in here early. We’re getting a group in to work on our execution. Quincy not only hasn’t played in two and a half years but I don’t know if he has ever played the 4.

“You just have to do the best with what you have.”