Bulls

Hinrich, Noah game-time decisions tonight in Orlando

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Hinrich, Noah game-time decisions tonight in Orlando

ORLANDOFor their two-game road trip to Florida, the Bulls have four point guards traveling with the team.
One is Derrick Rose, who obviously wont be suiting up. Another is rookie Marquis Teague, whose playing time likely depends on that status of starter Kirk Hinrich, who missed the disappointing New Years Eve loss to the woeful Bobcats, which snapped an 18-game losing streak for Charlotte, with what Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau called a compilation of things, but more specifically is centered around the veterans ailing left knee.
If Hinrich doesnt play, next in the pecking order is backup point guard Nate Robinson, whose contract was guaranteed for the remainder of the season Tuesday, ensuring that 2013 started off on a high note for the diminutive scorer. But Hinrich participated in Wednesday mornings shootaround at the Amway Center and if no complications arise, he expects to play against the Magic in the evening.
Im feeling better, so Im going to go out here and participate in shootaround, and go from there, Hinrich said, adding that he didnt think his minutes would be curtailed due to the nagging injury, which troubled him earlier in the campaign, causing him to miss games against Philadelphia and Brooklyn last month. I think it just depends on how I feel, my comfort level and all that.
Thibodeau chimed in: Kirk, I think, is fine. Well see after the shootaround.
While Hinrich doesnt put up gaudy statistics, it was clear Monday that the Bulls missed his ability to run the offense, be a pesky defender and put his teammates in the right positions, as well as his quiet leadership. While the 19-year-old Teague has potential, hes inexperienced and it appears that Thibodeau is reluctant to trust the offense in his hands, while Robinson, who is a dynamic scorer, is best suited as an energy player off the bench and a change-of-pace option when the Bulls need offensive production, as traditional playmaking has never been his strong suit.
When you look at his plus-minus and how the team functions when hes on the floor, its both offense and defense, Thibodeau explained. Offensively, we play well and defensively, we play well and thats what a point guard has to do, is run the team. Hes played well all season and I think he understands how to run a team and when you look at shot distribution when hes on the floor, the right guys are getting the right shots. Thats a big part of it.
Joakim Noah and Vladimir Radmanovic are also game-time decisions, due to flu-like symptoms, which severely impacted Noah in Mondays defeat.
Jo is still not feeling well, so well see tonight, Thibodeau said.Radmanovic is not feeling well, so those two guys will be game-time decisions.
As for Rose, the former league MVP wasnt made available to the media, but Thibodeau discussed the point guards recent progress, which was first reported by CSNChicago.com after Saturdays home win over Washington.
Hes been around the whole time. You guys dont see him as much as the team does and so, I dont think its that big of a deal. Its the next step in the progression for him. Hes getting up to speed with everything offensively, defensively, his teammates, so its just the next step and hes got to continue to do the things that hes been doing, and the team has to continue to focus on our improvement and our opponent, and then at some point, hell be ready to go. But he still has some time to go. Everyone has to be patient, but its good to have him around, Thibodeau explained. Hes already been in practice and they see him doing his rehab, so that part, it is what it is. Hes still not out on the court and thatll be eventually what we have to do. Hell be part of the group. But right now, everything is good. Our team has to keep working, just focus on the improvement. Derrick has to focus on what he needs to focus on and at some point, hell rejoin the group.
Its when hes ready, so thats not anything that has changed from the start of the season. Its when hes ready. Its not going to be sooner, later, this is the target date. Its just when hes ready, so hes doing practice, the predictable contact in practice. The next step will be regular practice. Then, he has to be able to go through regular practice for a while and then, if everything goes well, then he plays. But theres no time schedule. So, its everything according to plan. Its just the next step. Theres several steps that he has to go through. Theres several more that he has to go through, so everythings going well. Nothing has changed.
Thibodeau is more preoccupied with his struggling team performing well Wednesday night against the overachieving Magic. Under first-year head coach Jacque Vaughn, unheralded Orlando has been competitive something the Bulls know firsthand from their narrow victory at the United Center in November and although theyve been plagued by injuries as of late, the Magic took the defending-champion Heat to overtime New Years Day.
When you look at their personneltheyre down Jameer Nelson and ETwaun Moore the last couple games, but they have good personnel. When you look at Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu, those guys have been around and theyve performed well. Glen Davis has gotten hurt for them, but I had Davis in Boston; I know how good he is, Thibodeau said.
The core of their team is very, very good and theyve added some young guys who are very good. Andrew Nicholson is a terrific player, Nikola Vucevic is playing great basketball right now, so the challenge for us is to be ready. But theyre a very talented team, they play hard, they share the ball, theyre skilled, so we have to be ready. Vucevic, 29 rebounds in the last game, so were concerned about that and youre right, they played Miami great. Turkoglu is just coming back right now. Hes been a very talented player, hes got great size and decision-making ability, so they can run their offense through him and were concerned."
He went on to praise Vaughn, saying, I think hes well-prepared, hes got a very good staff, hes got them playing hard, playing together. Very impressive.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.