Bulls

Rose making gradual progress, showing flashes of previous form

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Rose making gradual progress, showing flashes of previous form

INDIANAPOLISFor a reigning league MVP, a 10-point, 3-for-11 shooting, performance wouldnt normally be termed a step in the right direction. However, when that same player has missed 26 games due to injury and the playoffs are right around the corner, you take what you can get.

Derrick Rose wasnt necessarily efficient as a scorer during the Bulls win over the Pacers, but he was both more explosive and aggressive than he was in Saturdays home victory over the Mavericks. The All-Star point guard only played 26 minutes Wednesday, but in addition to only committing a single turnover and dishing out seven assists, he began to regain his confidence in his still-healing right ankle.

Pushing off, every day its getting better. Im not trying to do too much out there, just trying to play within the team and trying not to get reinjured. Thats the biggest thing and making sure Im playing with a lot of confidence, Rose said afterwards. Im making sure that theyre clean drives. Im not getting hit that much and Im just trying to put pressure on the defense like I was when I wasnt injured.

It feels good. Getting treatment, icing it. Even when Im at home, doping the same thing. Icing it as much as possible. The swelling is down and hopefully I should be ready tomorrow and for the playoffs, he continued. I love playing games like this, just getting my rhythm back. Just being out there, playing defense. Trying to rebound, trying to jump off my right ankle and Im coming along, man. Im very positive, my spirits are up and thats the only thing I need to worry about right now.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: Rose was a lot more explosive. Hes gotten more comfortable. He was out a long period of time. When he comes back, he usually gets up to speed pretty quickly. He said this morning that he was feeling a lot better and thats after two days of practice, too. So, thats a real good sign. Im encouraged by that.

He had some real good attacks on the basket and the ball was in and out for him, but seven assists, one turnover, taking care of the ball, running the team. I thought that was very good, he continued. Each day he gets better and better, so thats what were looking for and I think hes getting a lot more comfortable. His bodys feeling a lot better and he needs to play, needs to play in games and I think hell get up to speed very quickly.

Rose acknowledged that he wasnt playing at the same level fans are accustomed to seeing, but some of that is due to both his adjustment in returning from injury and his teammates playing so well.

Im just trying to play within the group. Theyve been doing a good job making sure that Im taking my time, not rushing anything when I come off picks, just trying to make the right play, he explained. Im not worried about that. Im going to be all right. Certain situations, if it was a crazy type of game and at the end, I need to take over, thats what Im going to try to do. If not, Im still going to try to play my game, play aggressive.

Chimed in Kyle Korver: We need Derrick to play some. We dont need him to hurt himself or strain anything, but we need him to play and we need to play with him. Tonight, I thought he moved better. I thought he was more aggressive. Hes still trying to feel it out again, but he made a couple plays tonight where I was like, That was good.

I dont think theres a certain amount of games. I just think theres got to be a couple of plays where youre like, Yup, there it is, and thats going to be it. I dont think you can look at it in terms of games or weeks, or series or whatever you think its going to be. I just think its going to be a couple of plays. All of a sudden, he really moves on that foot and that ankle, and he makes a great play and were all just going to know like, All right, lets go, he continued. Hes still feeling it out a little bit. You can tell. I think he was trying to set guys up, trying to attack, but trying to pick his spots. I thought he looked better than he did the other night, for sure.

Kevin Durant sports Toni Kukoc jersey at a workout

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AP/USA TODAY

Kevin Durant sports Toni Kukoc jersey at a workout

Here’s your random, surprising and somewhat meaningless thing of the day: Kevin Durant wore a Bulls Toni Kukoc jersey in a gym.

This isn’t reason to start “KD to the Bulls” speculation, but it is a weird, cool thing that came out of nowhere.


Kukoc was 6-foot-11 and primarily made his living on the perimeter as a sharpshooter. He shot 40.3% from 3-point range during the Bulls’ 72-win season in 1995-96.

Durant, 31, would have been young and impressionable just as Kukoc was entering his prime with the Bulls during those years. He also has grown into having a similar profile as a big man playing on the perimeter. From that perspective, it’s reasonable to think Durant looked up to Kukoc from a young age. Durant will also wear No. 7, Kukoc's number with the Bulls, when he eventually comes back from injury and suits up for the Nets.

It’s still a bit jarring to see one of the best players in the NBA repping someone from a previous era who never made an All-Star team.

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Ryan Arcidiacono enjoys Coby White's historic 3-point barrage

Ryan Arcidiacono enjoys Coby White's historic 3-point barrage

Ryan Arcidiacono had so much trust in teammate Coby White that he was willing to risk pulling a Nick Young.

The former Lakers guard once infamously turned and headed downcourt to celebrate a 3-point shot that missed.

White didn’t, sinking the fifth of his franchise-record seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s victory over the Knicks. And Arcidiacono, who posted his eighth assist on the play, didn’t see it, heading downcourt with his arms aloft shortly after making the pass.

“As soon as I got the ball, I saw Coby spacing out. He had it going. I had the confidence. So as soon as I let it go to him, I’m like, ‘I’m about to turn. And hopefully I don’t pull a Nick Young and the ball doesn’t go in,’” Arcidiacono said. “But that’s just how much confidence I have and I know our teammates have in Coby. I saw the fans’ reaction, so I was like, ‘All right. I was successful in that.’

“Our bench was going crazy as well. It was good stuff.”

The Bulls’ celebratory moments have been few and far between. One could say Arcidiacono’s celebration walked the line between supporting a teammate and throwing sand in an opponent’s face.

Jim Boylen, who obviously is biased, wouldn’t be one of those people.

“These guys like playing together,” Boylen said. “Like I’ve said all along we have a high-character group. They care about doing the right things. They relish in a teammate’s success.

“The way that ball was popping back to (White) and they were finding him, they knew exactly what they were doing. I think they honored him that he was rolling and they got the ball to him. It’s just fun to watch. That’s how it’s supposed to be. The fact that he, I think he turned and ran, and hey, I think that’s great. Trust. He has confidence. That’s a cool thing.”

Arcidiacono, who called White’s 3-point barrage “crazy,” saw his celebratory move similarly.

“You love to see a player who works as hard as he does show it in a game and be that successful in a quarter,” Arcidiacono said of White.

The performance also helped serve as a temporary reprieve for the three-guard lineup that Boylen has utilized with first Chandler Hutchison sidelined by a strained hamstring and now Otto Porter Jr. out indefinitely with a sprained left foot. White scored. Arcidiacono passed. Kris Dunn added to his league-leading steals total.

“We try to scrap defensively,” Arcidiacono said of the three-guard look. “I know we’re not the biggest unit out there. We gotta toughen up. We switched a little bit and started battling with the bigs.

“On the offensive end, I think our second unit does a good job of moving the ball and putting each other in good positions. We know we’re not always going to score with the best. But when we get someone going like that, we try to feed the hot hand. And we know we’re always going to try our best defensively to keep us in the game.”

Arcidiacono missed his lone 3-point attempt but is shooting 7-for-15 from the distance on the young season and committed just one turnover in 21 minutes. He finished plus-25.

“He’s a confident, high-character guy that will assume any job you give him. He can play on the ball, off the ball,” Boylen said of Arcidiacono. “He’s improved the things that I’ve asked him to work on which is finishing at the rim and taking his open 3s. The rest of it he had. He can drive it, he can spray it. He made the assist to win the national championship game, right?”

That was back when Arcidiacono played for Villanova. Asked lightheartedly if he ever performed a similar celebration for local product Jalen Brunson, Arcidiacono said that team’s focus was to get back on defense.

But Arcidiacono has made a small name for himself with his in-game celebrations. From the bench, he used to mimic Robin Lopez’s array of post moves. The Bulls and Arcidiacono face Lopez and the Bucks Thursday in Milwaukee.

“We played them in the preseason, so I shed a tear when he was at the free-throw line,” Arcidiacono said. “I couldn’t imitate his hair pull and his waiting at the top of the half-circle stuff. I loved playing with RoLo.  It will be weird not being able to imitate him.

“I like to have fun, try to keep it loose and bring energy to our team.”

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