Bulls

Del Negro, Thomas Looking to Move Forward

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Del Negro, Thomas Looking to Move Forward

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010
6:03 P.M.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Prior to the Chicagos road game tonight in Indiana, Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro briefly spoke to the media. Del Negros main concern was Pacers star forward Danny Granger, an All-Star last season

Hes pretty good, by the way, sarcastically opened Del Negro. Shoots a lot of threes, really good on the break, long threes, big right-hand driver, they post him up a lot. Hes been an All-Star and hes a handful, so obviously weve got to pay attention to him.

When asked about the Pacers offense, Del Negro clearly wasnt taking tonights game for granted, despite its futility earlier in the season.

They have been putting up a lot of points lately. They put up a lot in the last several games. They shoot a lot of threes. Our transition defense has to be very solid tonight. We have to contest shots, observed Del Negro. Troy Murphy spreads you out. They lift him and he has great range. Brandon Rush has been shooting the ball very well from deep. The three-ball is going to be very, very important, long rebounds. We have to attack in our own transition on offense and get to the ft line.

Del Negro also indirectly addressed the ongoing Tyrus Thomas situation by talking about his rotation, specifically frontcourt players in Joakim Noahs absence.

Tyrus and John usually come in at the five, six-minute mark in the first quarter, and that wont change tonight. Well get Chris Richard in there and get Brad Miller a little bit of a rest, depending on matchups, whether Pacers center Roy Hibberts in there or whatever big theyre going with, said Del Negro. A lot of the time now, theyve been going a little bit smaller, putting Murphy at the five and playing four other smalls. Well just see how the matchups go and see how we want to exploit them. We may go big when they go small or maybe well go small and see how they match up, well just play out the game and then see how foul trouble is and tempo and things of that nature.

When asked about Miller, whos suffering from knee issues, Del Negro was cautiously optimistic.

His knees still got a little swelling in there, but hes been moving good. Weve had a difficult schedule, as far as back-to-backs, so he hasnt had a lot of rest, said Del Negro. Tonights no different. Well focus in on tonights game, and then another tough one at home against Orlando.

When it was pointed out that the Bulls face some teams below the caliber of some of the stronger teams in the leaguewhom their schedule was front-loaded withpotentially leading to smooth sailing after this weekends All-Star break, Del Negro wasnt so sure.

You would hope, but the old clichyou take one at a time. Weve beaten a lot of the upper-echelon teams; weve also lost to teams that dont have as good of a record, Del Negro explained. We dont have that type of team right now, where you just throw the ball into the post or handle mismatches and things. We have to play smart, we have to be efficient defensively. Our rebounding numbers are down since Joakim Noahs been out, and hes a big part of that.

Thats a big emphasis tonightno questionwell be trying to control the glass, he continued, again focusing on tonights matchup. Not giving them second opportunities, where theyre making threes and putting a lot of pressure on us.

The schedule has not been perfect for us. Weve had a ton of back-to-backs. Over half of our games are back-to-back games, said Del Negro, getting back to the teams schedule. You have to be ready to play and we have to healthy, play smart power basketball and try to keep guys as healthy as possible and as fresh as possible.

CSNChicago.com also spoke to Thomas before the game, although the fourth-year forward didnt have much to say about his suspension or the aftermath.

You know, execute the game plan, said Thomas, when asked about his role this evening.

Nothing to say, was his response when questioned about his current relationship with Del Negro, as well as speculation that hed be playing for another team before the upcoming NBA trade deadline.

Joakim Noah, whos out with plantar fasciitis, didnt travel on this trip, while Luol Deng, who slightly injured his shoulder, will play tonight.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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 Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to Lauri Markkanen’s injury and loss to Kings

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USA TODAY

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to Lauri Markkanen’s injury and loss to Kings

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine react to the Bulls 98-81 loss to the Kings.

1:00 - Reaction to the loss and LaVine getting double-teamed

2:50 - On Jim Boylen saying don’t expect system changes with Markkanen hurt

4:25 - Sabine’s list of things that have happened since the last time the Kings made the playoffs in 2006

5:35 - Viewer comment on LaVine and Coby

6:40 - Viewer comment on Denzel Valentine

8:00 - On the importance of 1st vs 3rd quarter

9:00 - Viewer comment on possible trades

11:00 - Viewer comment on seeing Bulls without Markkanen

14:30 - On Lauri Markkanen’s hip injury and missing 4-6 weeks

18:40 - Viewer comment asking if Bulls should shut down Markkanen

19:50 - Hey Matt Peck, did you see what DRose did tonight?

21:15 - Viewer comment on what to expect from Lauri when he returns

23:40 - Viewer asking the greatest moment the Outsiders have witnessed

24:55 - On NBA naming the All-Star starters

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Without Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine's job will only get more difficult

Without Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine's job will only get more difficult

It’s been the most pressing on-court issue facing the Bulls all season — in a season full of them:

Outside of Zach LaVine, where do the points come from?

The glare of that question is only set to amplify with Lauri Markkanen now set to miss four to six weeks with a pelvic injury. Take tonight’s 98-81 defeat at the hands of the Kings as an example. LaVine tallied 21 — his 13th consecutive game with 20 or more. Thad Young chipped in 10; Kris Dunn did, too. But the rest of the team mustered 40, and the Bulls finished with 81 points against the Kings’ 18th-rated defense.

For a stretch — a 109-second one, to start the second half — it appeared LaVine might single-handedly save the day, as he has before. He opened the third quarter with 10 quick points to shave a 10-point halftime deficit to two after tallying eight in the first two periods combined.

But the Kings clamped up. The rest of the way, LaVine scored only thrice and was ever on the run from one, two or three Sacramento defenders at a time, depending on the possession. The Bulls’ dearth of scoring around him made the gameplan a simple one: Cut the head off the snake. LaVine finished just 8-for-21 from the field.

“I think they did a good job of that,” Jim Boylen said of the Kings’ throwing waves of bodies LaVine’s way. “Zach's a primary guy and they treated him like a primary guy. He got up 21 shots. You know, six rebounds. I thought he tried.”

This storyline isn’t going away. As of this writing, three of the Bulls’ top five scorers (Marrkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr.) are sidelined and weeks (at least) away from return. Young, steady as he is, isn’t going to transform into a consistent 20-point scorer overnight. Tomas Satoransky and Coby White represent the Bulls’ best chance of secondary explosions on a night-to-night basis — but against Sacramento, they combined for 16 points on 4-for-16 shooting.

“I mean, [opponents have] been doing that,” LaVine said of the double and triple-teams he received tonight. “We gotta get somebody to step up, and I think we'll find it. It's the first game without Lau [Lauri Markkanen]. We'll figure out what we gotta do in Cleveland.”

Easier said than done. Down another primary 3-point threat in Markkanen, the Bulls shot 8-for-37 from deep tonight, the fifth time in seven games they’ve made less than 10 3-pointers. They’re now 2-13 on the season when they make less than 10 3s.

“Will we have to adjust some things and maybe play a little differently? Maybe,” Jim Boylen said of the team’s shooting. “I'll evaluate with the shots we got and what else we had. But I'm not gonna reinvent the wheel in January, I'm not gonna do that.”

The Bulls — spearheaded by Boylen and LaVine — insist they’re going to keep plugging. Still, an offense already third-to-last in the league in offensive rating just lost another cog, and the impact was apparent. LaVine already carried as great an offensive load as anyone in the league. Now, if he didn’t already, he’ll receive as much attention as anyone, too.

“That's up to coach. I'm prepared for everything. I think my conditioning's [good], so we'll see, maybe I gotta do that,” LaVine said of potentially taking on more minutes.

And of the injuries: “Nobody's gonna feel bad for you. They're just gonna try to take advantage of it.”

The Kings did that successfully tonight. The Bulls hope it doesn't prove a foreshadowing.

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