With Hinrich hurt, Teague ready for his moment

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With Hinrich hurt, Teague ready for his moment

Bulls starting point guard Kirk Hinrich exited Saturday nights home win over the Timberwolves with 1:18 left in the second quarter, never to return. Hinrich suffered a strained right hip and while his status moving forward is uncertain, the veterans absence from the starting lineup isn't a huge concern as of yet.
Thats because backup point guard Nate Robinson once again stepped up with a stellar performance in reliefsans his five turnoversscoring 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting and sparking a Bulls team that struggled offensively in the 89-80 victory. But Robinson is unlikely to play all 48 minutes of games until Hinrich returns, meaning 19-year-old rookie Marquis Teague must see some action in reserve.
The little-used Indianapolis native scored his first regular-season NBA points Saturday, on an aggressive driving layup immediately after checking into the game late in the third quarter, so he has that milestone out of the way. Now, assuming Hinrich has to miss any amount of time, hes tasked with having to be a productive contributor in non-blowout situations.
If hes in that locker room, he can play and Ive been very pleased with what hes done in practice. He gets there early, hes been working hard, hes practicing well, so I felt that when his opportunity would come, I had a good feeling about him performing well, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. Hes done a good job, hes got an opportunity to improve, hes been performing well. I thought he had that one drive that was terrific. He attacked the basket, using speed, finished strongly. Hes got to continue to do that.
Added Robinson: "He's young, but he's learning. He has a great group of guys here to help him out. He'll be just fine."
As for Teague himself, he played it nonchalant afterwards, as if hes used to throngs of reporters hounding him for quotes after NBA games. But on a serious note, the former University of Kentucky point guard did try to assert himself on the court and has made real progress since the long-ago days of the preseason, let alone the NBAs summer league in Las Vegas.
I felt pretty comfortable. Its just basketball. Im just going out doing what Thibs asks me to do, just trying to play under control, Teague said. It felt good. Get a bucket in, just to help my team.
Im just paying attention to what Kirk and Nate do, watching everything they do, its helping me out, and I feel like Im developing a lot, he added. I wasnt really overwhelmed. I was comfortable. I felt like I was ready to come out there and play, and help my team win.
The younger brother of Atlanta Hawks starting point guard Jeff Teaguehimself appearing to be on the verge of having a breakout seasonis starting to understand Thibodeaus edict of young players learning how to be a professional, which is reflected in his work ethic. Teague can often be seen at the Berto Center after practice, working on his outside jumper with assistant coachesparticularly shooting guru Ron Adamsor getting advice from his teammates.
A lot of early mornings and late nights, just staying in the gym constantly, trying to show people you can play at this level, he explained. Everybodys been helping, talking to me. Thats why I love this team, such great guys on this team.

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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."