Bulls

Thibodeau 'optimistic' about Rose, Deng playing vs. Heat?

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Thibodeau 'optimistic' about Rose, Deng playing vs. Heat?

CHARLOTTEThough Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau spouted his standard game-time decision line about the status of All-Stars Derrick Rose and Luol Deng for Thursdays showdown with the Heat in Miami, he also joked that hes taking a positive outlook about the likelihood of the duo suiting up. One of the pair, Deng, is apparently on the same page.

Its getting better. Still a little sore, but its getting better, he said after watching his team blow out the lowly Bobcats. Ive been off it and just getting treatment.

Just mostly trying to get some motion, just moving it around. Trying to get the muscles to loosen up and just ice, and stim. I had trouble with some motion and weve been doing that to try to get my motion back, Deng continued. Were going to re-evaluate in the morning, but most likely, I should be able to go. But well see how it feels tomorrow.

Deng has missed two consecutive games after taking a shot to the ribs from former teammate Ben Gordon in the Bulls overtime win Sunday at Detroit. Hes also dealt with the effects of torn ligaments in his left wrist for the majority of the second half of the season.

Rose, on the other hand, has been dealing with soreness in his right foot the past two contests after missing a game due to spraining his right ankle. Before that, he he was sidelined for 12 consecutive games with a groin injury and that isnt even counting 10 absences because of turf toe and lower back spasms.

Thatll be a game-time decision. As you guys all know, Im an optimist. I think itll be good, quipped Thibodeau. Theyre making good progress. The first guy theyve got to get by is Fred Tedeschi, the Bulls team trainer. Fred has to clear them. They have to show that theyre confident and comfortable on the floor. It hasnt been easy for them, but I think theyre handling everything well and weve just got to make the right decision. The most important thing is the team playing well and being healthy, so weve got to take care of those two things going forward. So, thats what were going to do.

Added teammate Carlos Boozer: Theyre warriors, man. If they can, they will. I think its up to them and see how their body feels tomorrow when we tip, but theyve played through so many different injuries throughout their careers. Just this season alone, its countless injuries theyve played through.

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

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AP

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.