Bulls

Rose getting closer to full-contact in practice

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Rose getting closer to full-contact in practice

Jimmy Butler will make his second regular-season NBA start Monday night, as Luol Deng will miss his second consecutive game with a strained right hamstring, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said before his team hosted the Lakers at the United Center.
But Dengs status wasnt the only injury news the coach discussed in his pregame availability. Thibodeau updated the progress of sidelined point guard Derrick Rose, indicating that the former league MVP could begin full-contact practices this week.
Rose is very close. That full-contact practices will be the next step, Thibodeau said with a wry smirk on his face. It could happen this week.
He has to go through that for an extended amount of time. Thats not going to be, Okay, one or two days of contact and hes going to be out there. Thats not going to happen. Everyone has to be patient. Hes doing his part. Hes showing great patience. Everyone else has to, he continued. Hes got to continue to focus on the rehab. Our guys have to focus on their improvement and our opponent, and then when hes ready whenever it is when hes ready, thats when he comes back. Not earlier than hes ready, not later. Its when hes ready and our doctors have been on top of it from Day 1, so everyone just has to show patience.
Hes done great.
Perhaps sensing that the focus of the assembled media had shifted to Rose rather than the matchup with the star-studded Lakers, Thibodeau refocused the agenda to how his team has performed without the superstar.
I like our team. You guys, I guess you dont believe me, but I believe we have more than enough. If we do the right things, were capable of beating anyone, anywhere. We have to continue to do that and I still think we have a lot of room for growth, and thats the way I want us to be. We went through half a season last year without Derrick and so, the big thing, as I said, is you begin with the end in mind and for us, we want to be playing great basketball at the end of the season and we want to be as healthy as possible. So, with Derrick, its just being patient, let him handle the rehab, continue to listen to what our doctors have to say and then, we go from there, he explained, before delving into his preparation for the current season.
"The thing is, in terms of planning, we knew what the injury was last year, so we had all summer to map out how we were going to approach this. Sometimes it may be different when an injury occurs during the season and thats not something youre planning on, but we knew we could plan on this, so we mapped out what we thought would give us our best chance to succeed.

Zach LaVine's conditioning at '70 percent' but still on schedule

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USA TODAY

Zach LaVine's conditioning at '70 percent' but still on schedule

Everybody saw the play, that awkward instance where Zach LaVine looked ready for his second dunk of the season but was fouled from behind by Atlanta’s Taurean Prince.

It looked as if LaVine was ready for liftoff but one of his jets misfired, sparking at least the thought of his recovery from his ACL injury being a bit off—but he laughed at the thought.

“I don’t know why everybody keeps talking about it,” LaVine said Sunday at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, where the Bulls held practice. “The dude stepped on the back of my foot, so I couldn’t get off the ground. Everybody’s wondering if I’m okay, yeah. I just missed a fouled layup.”

The adrenaline from his first two games have worn off a bit, and he missed his first four shots from the field Saturday before hitting a couple in the start of the third quarter in the Bulls’ 113-97 win over the Hawks.

He looked winded a few times during his stint and admitted his conditioning isn’t where it should be—as expected given he’s missed 11 months of real basketball. He said his conditioning is at about “70 percent”, and you can certainly see it in his jump shot not being as fluid as it was last season in Minnesota.

“It was feeling good in practice but in games it’s seventy,” LaVine said. “Playing defense, getting back, running the break, just getting used to it.”

Add to it, the Bulls cover the most halfcourt ground of any team in the NBA with their set offense and Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has long said he’s not slowing down his offense while LaVine is in.

The shooting guard will have to catch up to the pace, and it’ll probably be better for him in the long run.

“I think it’s just ‘okay’ and rightfully so,” said Hoiberg about LaVine’s conditioning. “It’s impossible to simulate game action in practices when you’re doing individual workouts. Every time he plays that conditioning will ramp up. As he plays, it’ll get better and better. And he’s such a good and natural athlete, it’ll come back quickly.”

Hoiberg isn’t concerned about the variances in LaVine’s performances. He came out the gate with such force and adrenaline in his debut against Detroit and two days later against Miami, but it’s tailed off against Golden State and then Atlanta.

“I think Zach’s doing great,” Hoiberg said. “You look around the league where players have come back from significant injuries, he’s gonna be up and down. His first two games he’s been unbelievable. A couple games he hasn’t shot the ball great. He played unselfish basketball last night.”

LaVine’s minutes has been extended to 24 from 20, and he’ll still practice in the off-days as the Bulls want to keep his rehab on schedule as opposed to having him play heavy minutes initially.

He’ll be re-evaluated after Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia and could see his minutes rise before the Bulls host the Lakers Friday at the United Center.

“I should just get used to it,” LaVine said. “Just getting used to the swing of things. It takes a second for your body to get adjusted to it.”

Three Things to Watch: Bulls visit Pelicans

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls visit Pelicans

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Bulls take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Pregame Live.

1. Anthony Davis

The five-time All-Star just continues to improve. While he's not averaging career-highs in any major category, no one's going to scoff at his 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.1 blocks in 36 minutes per game. He's shooting nearly 56 percent from the field and is on pace for a career-best in 3-pointers made, which is a pretty impressive statistic. Lauri Markkanen will have his hands full, and it may be in the Bulls' best interest to get Nikola Mirotic some early minutes to try and get physical with Davis. There's no real way to slow him down.

2. DeMarcus Cousins

And if the Bulls should so happen to get lucky and slow down Davis, there's another All-Star starter waiting alongside him. Boogie Cousins has been every bit as good as Davis this season, averaging 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 36 minutes. He's certainly not as efficient as Davis (47 percent from the field, 5.0 turnovers) but is deadly inside. He's shooting a career-best 52.8 percent on 2-pointers this season, and his 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks make him a serviceable defender (although the Bulls could certainly stretch their offense to make him work more).

3. Rajon Rondo

Rondo hasn't been great in his first season with the Pellies, but perhaps he's turning things around. Beginning with his absurd 25-assist game just after Christmas, Rondo is averaging 7.4 points, 8.2 assists and 1.0 steal per game. He's allowed Jrue Holiday to play more off the ball, and while his defense is nothing to write home about he's logging solid minutes for a Pelicans team woefully short in the backcourt.