Starting Five: Bulls at Lakers

Starting Five: Bulls at Lakers

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
5:18 PM

By Aggrey Sam

1. Bulls power forward Taj Gibson expects to play in tonights game against the Lakers after aggravating a foot injury Sunday and missing the teams practices that day and Monday. I think I should be able to playWe worked on it all morning, the last couple hours, the day before, said Gibson, who claims he was told by doctors that he couldnt further aggravate the injury by playing. Im feeling a lot better. Once they figured out what it was, that helped it heal faster. When they saw the MRI, did the check-up to make sure I was okay, they said he should treat the injury with some ice and stim electronic stimulation.

Continued Gibson, who said the injury was unrelated to the plantar fasciitis that troubled him since last season: Even if Im a little down, when the game comes, everything just changes. Im looking forward to trying to play; looking forward to playing, actuallyIm just happy that there werent any tears or anything. When we were looking at the film, they the doctors were all shaky-faced; their faces were all screwed-up. Its just a little aggravation. Thibodeau chimed in, He said hes feeling a lot better today, so its encouragingWe didnt think it was anything major, but we were cautionary Mondaygoing to the doctor, see how he feels tonight before the gameand if hes ready to go, he goes.

2. Reserve forward Brian Scalabrine, another USC product, expressed much stronger sentiments about practicing at his rival school. Ill tell you what: I dont have good nights here. I feel like we should have went to SC the University of Southern California, his alma mater or even maybe the Staples Center at shootaround, but I can come in this gym UCLAs Student Activity Center. I dont really have any hatred toward this place right here. I mean, I have some hatred of Pauley Pavilion, UCLAs home gym. Listen, Im not going to hide it: I hate UCLA; thats just the way it is. I like USC, I hate UCLA. I want them to lose, I want USC to win, said Scalabrine before shootaround.

We battled, but Im not like the guys nowadays that have friends and stuff like that at other places. When we were there, we hated UCLA; I wanted them to lose every game. I dont know how they felt about us, but thats just how it is. Added Scalabrine: I played one time in the vaunted summer pickup games at UCLA. They argue too much. Magic Johnson, manhe cheats. You cant ever get any games going. I come to work; I dont come to argue. I could argue at home if I wantbut top-notch runs here.

Scalabrine also opined about the Bulls opponent tonight and whether they were an improved team with the additions of free agents Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, the improvement of Shannon Brown and Kobe Bryants hot start. I think theyre a better team, but for thema team like thatthey won a championship; you dont know how all that is going to work in June. It might work in June. All sights point to them maybe working in June, but you just never know, said Scalabrine.

You never know. In 08, we Boston won the championship and the next year, K.G. Kevin Garnett has the knee thing and we were out in the second round vs. Orlando. You never know whats going to happen. We thought we were poised to win that championship, just like we thought we were poised to win last years championship. I dont think you never know how thats going to play out. Especially in the playoffs, I think the cream rises to the top, and clearly they have guys that have performed at that level and have done well, but the other guys have stuff to prove.

3. After Sundays practice at the Staples Center, Derrick Rose discussed the underrated Lamar Odom, his teammate from the FIBA World Championships gold medal-winning USA Basketball squad. Hes Odom a good dude. Works hard, loves the game, really helpful to his teamhes going to eat offensively. Rebounds, tip-ins, push the ball up the floor. If theres an advantage, hes going to drive the ball, get to the line. Hes going to ball when hes on the floor, said Rose.

When youve got a guy thats been playing the power forward spot for numerous years and you put on a team USA Basketball where hes got to play centerhe started for us at center, so he had to stick Luis Scola and all the other great European centers over thereso that was kind of weird and he took that challenge. Rose went on to talk about Odoms intense pregame preparation. You could just tell Odom was a champion by the way he prepared for the games. He does a whole body workout before a game. I call it a prison workout. Hell be in the locker, the coach will be talking and hell do million little workoutspush-ups, sit-ups. Everybody was laughing like, Man, here he goes with his workout. Put his towel down and do a whole bunch of workouts. But the way he prepares for games in unbelievable. Thats why hes where hes at right now.

Rose also noted his alma mater, Chicagos Simeon Career Academy, being ranked as the preseason top team in the city and No. 10 nationally, with speculation the perennial prep powerhouse could be better than his back-to-back state championship squads. Theyve Simeon got a chance to do it. Theyve got a lot of young talent, good coaching staff there and it would be great if they could have another team like that his own team, said Rose.

4. Thibodeau talked about his history with Bryant after Sundays practice, which goes back to the superstars days as a high school phenom at Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia. He was so driven. He was a high school kid and when he had a day off from school, and hed be in the gym from eight in the morning until eight at night. He was trying to play against the pros and watch everything, lift weights. You know his talent. In high school, when he was playing against pros, he looked like he belonged with them. You knew he was going to be special, but I think his drive is what he really separates him.

When you combine that drive and his intelligence with his talent, hes top of the line, recalled Thibodeau, who joked that his knowledge of Bryants game hasnt helped me very much. His dad former NBA player Joe Jellybean Bryant was coaching at La Salle and John Lucas was the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. They had known each other for a long time and we were practicing at St. Joes St. Josephs University. In Philly, everyone was around. High school players, college players, you had prosthey were all in the same gymbut you could just tell. The way he would study everything was amazing for a high school kid.
5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

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Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

College teammates Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder made plans to go to dinner after Thursday’s game in Chicago but for a few short moments they weren’t just competitors but unexpected combatants, getting tangled up in the second quarter.

There looked to be some harsh words exchanged after Butler took a charge on an unsuspecting Crowder near three-quarter court, with Crowder putting the basketball in Butler’s chest while Butler was still on the floor, causing players on both teams to convene for some tense moments.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas got involved and then before Butler could blink, Bulls guard Rajon Rondo joined the proceedings, as pushing and shoving ensued before technical fouls were assessed to both teams after an officials’ review.

If one wondered whether these Bulls—a team that touts itself as young with so many players having three years or less professional experience—could play with some bark and bite, perhaps the season opener provided a bit of a positive preview for the next 81 games.

Nearby, an unbothered Dwyane Wade took a practice 3-point shot, much to the delight of the United Center crowd, as observers witnessed the first sign of tangible proof the Bulls have intentions on regaining a bit of an edge on the floor.

Wade joked and took it as a sign of respect between the two teams.

“It looked like it, right? Yeah. It was a little something out there,” said Wade when asked if there was some chippy play. “Every time we play them it’s gonna be like that. Two teams finding their way in the Eastern Conference. We know we gotta see each other a lot. They never give up. They can be down 30 with 15 seconds left and they’re still gonna fight.”

The Bulls have externally preached toughness from the start of camp. Although Wade didn’t participate in that meeting of the minds, he isn’t exactly running away from such matters.
And Rajon Rondo is competitively ornery enough to have his voice hard no matter the setting.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It’s been a big theme of practice,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We want to play with physicality and toughness. I think it was evident on the glass tonight.”

Yes, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 19, but that could’ve been a by-product of the Bulls’ crashing the offensive glass on a porous shooting night. And yes, the slightly tense moment between Butler and Crowder probably won’t be an expected occurrence.

But when’s the last time one had multiple examples to dissect to discern this team’s level of toughness—or lack thereof.

“That’s something to show that the guys are out there fighting for each other,” Hoiberg said. “That they were playing with an edge. It happens with this game. You have to be competitive.”

Competition boiled over slightly, but considering the NBA isn’t exactly UFC, one doesn’t have to do much to display a little physical resolve.

“The fact that nothing escalated was good,” Hoiberg said. “The fact that those guys are out there and playing for each other and have each other’s back, that’s a huge thing right now.”

Too many times last season, it seemed the Bulls would submit in situations like those. Not that they were particularly soft, but it didn’t appear they had the collective will to fight for one another if an altercation arose.

Half the time, they looked like they could barely stand to be in the room with each other.

“It’s people’s will to win. Not saying a bad thing about anybody from last year,” Butler said. “To tell you the truth, I study the game and put in a lot of work but Rondo studies the game a lot. Every time I’m in the gym, he’s in the gym. That lets me know, these (dudes) are going to war with you. Every day. When I hit that deck, Rondo was right there. I wanna play with guys that’s gonna play hard, that’s gonna fight.”

And it didn’t take long for Butler to realize he has at least a couple teammates willing to jump in the foxhole with him.