Bulls

Thibodeau's guide to injuries and off days

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Thibodeau's guide to injuries and off days

NEW ORLEANSThough youve likely read or listened to bits and pieces of it before, consider the following the definitive Tom Thibodeau explanation for how he handles injuries and the pacing of his team during this condensed regular-season schedule.

To me, obviously if a guy is hurt, theyre injured, they shouldnt play. But if he can play, he should play. Somehow, this notion of guys sitting out games -- pretty soon well be at the point where a guy sits out the whole season and just plays in the playoffs, if he can get there. I dont get that, Thibodeau said before the Bulls Wednesday-morning shootaround, when asked about the possibility of sitting out Derrick Rose against the Hornets. But I certainly dont want him to play if hes injured. To me, theres a big difference there. We dont want any of our players to play if theyre injured and thats the balance that you have to strike. Right now, our schedule, even though were on the road, theyre spaced out. Were not dealing with back-to-backs right now. If he gets the proper amount of rest -- thats with all our players -- we scale back on a lot of things.

Its not just the minutes the guy plays in a game, its what youre doing on your off days also, so if you cut back practice time and you cut back shootaround, where youre doing more film and that sort of thing. So, you can get rest that way also. I think how you pace your team is important and everything youre doing, youre projecting what you need to be playing your best at the end of the season and to be as healthy as you possibly can, so you are factoring in all those things, he continued. Can you get the proper amount of rest? Can you develop the proper habits you need to be successful late? And the only way you build those habits is doing your work. If you dont do your work and expect to play well at the end, thats just foolish.

Thibodeau also broke down how the Bulls spent Tuesday, a day off, in New Orleans, while theyre in the midst of a nine-game road trip.

Tuesday was meeting, film session, then we had some time available if guys wanted to go and get some work. We had some guys who did that, we had guys who did massage, we had guys who did therapy. So, it was a compilation of things, where whatever you needed, thats what we tried to get to. So, some of the guys who havent been playing a lot, they came over and got some extra work in. the guys who have gotten more minutes, they were back in the hotel and got their treatment, massage and that sort of thing. So, I think thats the big point about how you pace your team, he said. John Lucas III, Scal Brian Scalabrine, Jimmy Butler and then some guys who wanted extra shooting, they got their shooting in, and I think our guys are good about that. so, they know if the rest is more important and whether the extra rest is more important, so thats why were real careful right now about our practice time, what were doing and what were not doing.

As the old NBC public-service commercials used to say, "The more you know." Unless reporters ask Thibodeau for definitive injury news, that is.

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.