Rivers talks Bulls, Thibodeau, Robinson

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Rivers talks Bulls, Thibodeau, Robinson

With Kirk Hinrich sidelined for Mondays contest against the Celtics with a right hip strain, Bulls backup point guard Nate Robinson will be thrust into a starting role.

Robinson has already started and played tremendously in Hinrichs place during a pair of preseason contests and overall, the diminutive energy player has been solid, at minimum, thus far during his stint in Chicago.

Celtics head coach Doc Rivers isnt surprised at Robinsons success. Robinson played under Rivers for parts of two seasons, including the Celtics 2010 run to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Lakers, but since leaving Boston, Rivers has been pleased with Robinsons progress from afar.

Well, I just think hes matured, honestly. Ive told Nate this: Its never been his basketball. Nate knows how to play. Hes grown up. Hes more of a professional. I think hes got better focus, Rivers said after the Celtics shootaround Monday morning at Moody Bible Institute. I thought he started doing it last year. I thought last year, you could see the difference in Nate and Im happy for him. I want him doing that. Its not like we dont want players to be good. Im a fan of Nates talent and this is good for Nate.

Added former teammate Rajon Rondo, who will match up with Robinson in Mondays affair: He was the starting point guard for part of the season in Golden State, so hes been there before."

Rivers acknowledged that the Bulls are in a tough situation without All-Star Derrick Rose, but believes that behind his good friend and former assistant Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls' head coach, the team will overcome the major setback.

Its like not having Rondo, but theyre better at it because theyve done it for a while. Injuries are bad obviously, but when you have a training camp without the guy, you can make a team. I think injuries are far tougher when you have them in the middle of the season and then youre working a guy out. Its like Sunday night in the Bears game. The starting quarterback goes out, its tough because they didnt have training camp doing that. Its a little different, but Chicagos playing well, the Maywood, Ill., native explained. They play great D, Nates come in and done a terrific job. Its not like the guys they have playing are bad players. Hinrich may or may not play tonight, but Im talking about their team as a whole, and Nate Robinson, theyre NBA players, so theyre pretty good.

I dont look at it, honestly, because Derricks not playing. I dont prepare that way. I just look at what they are now and obviously, having Derrick, youre a better basketball team because he creates their offense all on his own for the most part and they dont have that. They still run the same stuff, but the same thing with any great point guard. What great point guards do is run the offense better, but more important is at the end of a set or anything, they can create their own offense in transition or off the end of sets, and thats the difference, he continued. I hope every coachs team takes on their identity or somethings not right, unless the best players that good, where they take on that players identity. In this case, I think the team has clearly taken Thibs identity and Derricks, for the most part, but I think its Thibs leadership. I think he sets the tone and he didnt let them give in, and to me, thats the value of Thibs.

They also use the clock on offense. They shoot the ball with one second on the shot clock a lot. They have great ball control. Its not like they wont run they will but theyre going to exhaust the clock until they get the exact shot that they want and so, you can be a running team all you want, it cuts your possessions in half.

Chimed in Rondo: Theyre still a defensive-minded teamI think its worked so far. Different guys have to step up.

Rivers revealed that Thibodeau, despite signing a new contract prior to the start of training camp, is still very frugal, joking, Hes still cheap as hell. Ive been trying to get him to buy a place here, instead of renting. But he tips now. Thats the first step. One step at a time.

The coach was also very complimentary of Bulls starters Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.

Deng likes playing against us, if you go by the numbers. Hes good against us. I love Luol. Hes just a good player. Solid, solid basketball player. Hes another one of those All-Stars thats a role player, but hes an All-Star. Hes just such a team-oriented guy. Hes a great guy to have on your team, he gushed. Noah is being more aggressive, hes taking people off the dribble a lot and his I.Q. is as good as there is in the league. Noah, Kevin Garnett. Theres only a handful of bigs that have great I.Q.s, as far as point-guard I.Q.s and Noahs one of them.

Rivers also opined about the Lakers hiring of Mike DAntoni as head coach to replace the fired Mike Brown and eventually, interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff, a former Bulls assistant instead of former Bulls and Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, an 11-time NBA champion.

Ive kind of heard about it through the media. Thats good. Hes a hell of a coach. Its a good fit, he said. I think its a terrific fit.

Not my team, so I could care less, as you know, but I dont know how anyone can scoff at Mike DAntoni being a head coach.

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

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."