Gibson opens up about contract situation

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Gibson opens up about contract situation

James Harden, the Thunder guard, NBAs reigning Sixth Man of the Year (though he started Tuesday night) and Olympic gold medalist, wanted no part of the question. After being bombarded since the beginning of training camp about his own looming deadline for a long-term contract extension, he understandably didnt feel right commenting about former Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) rival Taj Gibsons similar situation.

He works hard, said Harden, answering generically. Hes a great player on a great team. Hes done a great job these last couple of years.

In the home locker room at the United Center, Gibson was much more forthcoming about his fellow upper-echelon reserve and fourth-year pro, even dropping his guard about his own situation.

Ive known James since he was 14 years old, since he was in California playing AAU, so to see both of us in this situation now, its great. If you look at it, you have an opportunity to better yourself, better your family for a long time to come, Gibson told CSNChicago.com. But youve just got to be patient. I talked to him at the USA Basketball trials in Las Vegas, where Harden played with Olympic team and Gibson was a member of the Select team and hes not really thinking about it too much.

When youre in this situation, a lot of people are more focused on it than you. You just have to let it slide off your shoulders. Joakim Noah was talking about to me about it a couple of days ago, but I always just shrug it off. I really dont even think about it, he continued. When you think about it, it kind of takes you away from the basketball aspect of it. But you really cant do anything about it, except worry about what you can take care of and thats the court work. Your agent and the GM has to worry about that.

Serge Ibaka, Hardens teammate and like Gibson, one of the top young defensive power forwards in the NBA, got his extension during the offseason, a major reason the Thunder still havent come to terms with Harden. When asked about his Bulls counterpart, the native of the Congo (via Spain), spoke freely about his admiration for Gibson.

Hes tough, man. He brings some energy, he can rebound, he runs the floor, he can shoot the ball, he plays defense. You dont have a lot of big guys that come off the bench and do the kind of stuff he does, said Ibaka. A player like Taj, any team would take him and I just wish him good luck. I know he will keep working to get better and better.

Tuesday wasnt one of Gibsons better preseason outings, but even in a game where his impact wasnt shown in the box score, just willing to be physical mattered in a game like the Bulls win over the short-handed Thunder. Ibaka and Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins were embroiled in a hoops battle royale with Bulls starting big men Noah and Carlos Boozer, in particular, all night long.

They played well. Theyre good players and yeah, theyre competitive, said Noah. It had a regular-season feel to it and I felt like we played pretty hard. It just feels good to get that competitive feeling back.

I think its just more about us, more than anything right now. Its just more about coming out with the right mindset. I think we did that today, which was pretty good and we competed. We competed hard we got better as a group. Weve just got to keep fighting, get better this last week of the preseason and get ready for the home opener, he added, before cryptically commenting on Perkins, his nemesis in the epic Bulls-Celtics 2009 first-round playoff series. Its been going on a long time. Its been going on a long time.

Countered Ibaka: Its basketball. Thats why I love it. Me and Perk, we love itthose two guys Boozer and Noah, theyre really tough.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: You have to win a lot of different ways, so we have to be able to play physical and win, and not allow that to take away from what were trying to get accomplished out there. So, I think we can play that way. Theyre tough. Ive coached Perkins. I know how good he is defensively. Hasheem Thabeet, I thought, was very good for them. Ibaka was great. Theyve got a tough frontline.

Like Gibson, backup center Nazr Mohammed has had better days during the Bulls exhibition campaign. However, that doesnt mean he wasnt missed by his old team, as Thunder players and coaches showed the veteran, now playing for his hometown squad, plenty of love after the contest.

Nazr, first of all, hes a professional, a good guy. Hes the kind of guy, if you have him on the team, youll be happy. He works hard, hes a good example and I think hell a lot on this team the Bulls, especially coming off the bench, said Ibaka. He helped me become a better professional. Every time I did something, a mistake or whatever, hed help me.

Chimed in Brooks: He was a big part of our success. That guys a true professional. He works every day. Ive been around players, they work when the light is on, but hes always working, always putting in extra time in the weight room, in the cardio room, on the practice floor. Hes somebody that you want your young players to be around and he can still play. He had some good games for us. He didnt play much in the playoffs, but he was a big part of our success the last two years. Just his work ethic, the professionalism and his ability to rebound, and play defense and make a shot.

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After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

Dwyane Wade sounded every bit like a frustrated 35-year old father when talking about the repeated ills and so-called growing pains of his Bulls, as they surrendered yet another game against a sub-.500 team.

Sometimes it's the New York Knicks whom the Bulls are offering temporary refuge. Or maybe the Minnesota Timberwolves as they are all-too-generous to roll out the welcome mat for returning figures to Chicago.

Tuesday it was the Dallas Mavericks, the second-worst team in the Western Conference, who stormed into the United Center and escaped with a 99-98 win, courtesy of Wesley Matthews' triple with 11.7 seconds left followed by him locking down Jimmy Butler on the ensuing possession.

Wade was forced to take a contested 21-footer that went awry, but the Bulls' ills went far beyond the last two possessions, when the Mavericks exploited their strategy yet again.

"Either you learn the lesson or figure out," Wade said. "Keep putting your hand on the hot stove every day.

"We just gotta figure out not to put our hands on that stove. And understand when we come in the kitchen, that stove is hot, don't touch it. As I continue to say, this is a very young team and they have to play in these games and have to go through these moments. The one thing you want, whether it's this year or next year, is to not make the same mistakes."

The Bulls are apparently insistent on touching the stove and keep burning themselves, the most recent time with the confusion or the bad strategy in defending the Mavericks' final offensive possession.

Deron Williams found himself with Nikola Mirotic defending him off a switch from Jimmy Butler. Not the quickest afoot, Mirotic gave Williams an easy path to the basket and Wade was the backside help, not wanting to leave Matthews on the wing for a triple.

But with the bench commanding Wade to help, Williams easily found Matthews for an open 3 as Wade had no help for his man. With the Bulls up two, one could see how Wade didn't want to leave Matthews.

"I'll have to go back and watch, but it looks like Deron got downcourt, Wade went over to help and we didn’t rotate accordingly," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We obviously need to do a better job of staying in front of the other end."

Mirotic was supposed to be brought back slowly in his return from strep throat, but he played the entire fourth quarter and 22 minutes overall, having lost eight pounds with his illness that had him miss four games.

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Their issues were game-long and have been seasonlong as the Mavericks were supposed to absorb a shellacking from a Bulls team that felt a 25-point beatdown in Texas last month.

Instead, they would've been happy with settling for an escape when Butler rose up over his college teammate Matthews for a 20-foot wing jumper with 22.8 seconds left.

Butler nearly added a triple-double and clutch moment to his growing resume with 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds but was dogged by Matthews all night, the defender who wouldn't give him airspace, went chest-to-chest and even earned a technical foul when he felt Butler exaggerated some contact in the third quarter.

"He took away my space, wouldn't let me get to my spot," Butler said of Matthews. "Good for him. I should've did something different."

Wade missed 13 of his 21 shots, scoring 17 with five rebounds on his 35th birthday

With scoring at a premium, Robin Lopez had a season-high 21 points being guarded by Dirk Nowitzki — and they were necessary considering the Bulls were without Taj Gibson (ankle injury) and Doug McDermott couldn't repeat his 30-point showing from Sunday in Memphis.

Rick Carlisle has long been regarded as one of the top strategic coaches, and though he doesn't have the usual personnel from the Mavericks' salad days, he had enough tricks up his sleeve to throw the Bulls off.

Six Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Harrison Barnes' 20 points and Seth Curry's 18, as Barnes, Matthews and Curry combined for eight triples — spreading the Bulls out and picking them apart defensively.

The Mavericks started Nowitzki at center, going to an almost all-small lineup. And though Lopez scored 14 points in the first half, trying to feed him seemed to take the Bulls out of it in the second half.

The energy was tardy to the party, as they shot just 41 percent in the first half but woke up a little in the third quarter — continuing their all-too familiar trend of half-hearted efforts against lesser teams.

And it looks like the ever-optimistic Wade is dishing out some realism, probably something that comes with the perspective of turning 35.

"You can't keep getting stressed out or frustrated. We've been going through this all year. We'll get back in in the morning.

"Once you realize who you are, you're better off. I sleep better at night. Once we want to be a better team and start winning games, we will. I'm not mad, I'm not frustrated, I'm not stressed. Just taking the hits."