CLEVELANDFrom their shared tenure in Boston together, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau knew what he was getting when Nate Robinson signed up to play in Chicago this season. At his best, the diminutive bundle of energy is an instant-offense scorer, capable of making game-changing plays, setting up his teammates, creating off the dribble and pushing the tempo.
Bulls fans have already seen that side of Robinson, as hes already had several stellar stretches this season. But when Robinson is off or pushes his luck when hes got it going, thats when the turnovers, questionable shot selection and other lapses come out, showing why, despite his talent, hes bounced around the league so much.
For example, in Tuesday nights home loss to the rival Pacers, Robinson was the one player who could truly make things happen and was a big reason the Bulls seized control of the game in the fourth quarter. However, when bad judgment reared its ugly head, he also made some crucial errors that played a part in the eventual defeat.
I dont think its ever on one particular player. We win together, we lose together. We were capable of finishing that game a lot better than we did. In every game, theres going to be good situations and bad, and I think the important thing for us to become a good team, we have to eliminate all the ways in which we beat ourselves first and thats getting our turnovers down. That wasnt any one particular guy19 turnovers, theres a lot of people involved in thatand I think we have to understand, in the fourth quarter, its different, Thibodeau explained, a day after having time to reflect on the game, as well as watch the film. We have some guys who are playing in the fourth quarter who havent played in the fourth quarter, so I think its important to understand that everyone has to do their job. The intensitys different. You have to be able to sustain your spacing through a second and third option. You have to be fundamental with the ball. You have to pivot well, make the appropriate pass at the appropriate time. Youve got to pass with two hands, youve got to catch with two hands, youve got to rebound with two hands. I thought those were the things that got us.
Compared to when he played for the Celtics, Robinson is different. Hes got more experience now and he wasnt playing this type of role in Boston, so this is a different role. I think hes still growing, the coach continued. Hes had some really good games for us, some games that are sort of in the middle. But I want him to be consistent and I want him to try to concentrate on his improvement, and run our team well.
When asked about his play, Robinson was honest. The point guard understands what kind of player he is and is continuously working to improve his deficiencies, but also knows that his unique abilityotherworldly athleticism, unbelievable heart and innate scoring abilityis a dimension that few players bring to the table.
I play hard, but sometimes it just doesnt happen. Things dont go in your favor and Ive got to take care of the ball. Thats something Ive got to do better from here on out, Robinson said. I dont think I went for the home-run play. A couple plays, the ball just got out of my hands. Just try to make the right play, honestly. Sometimes youve got to take the good with the bad. That just builds character for me. Ive got to criticize myself before you guys can do it. That makes my job easier.
I think I get better and better every year. Myself, Im definitely happy with the positions Ive been in, different teams, different situations. I love the game for what it is. I just go hard. Thats the only way I know how to play and over the years, Im getting better and better, so Im happy with it, he added. His game is a work in progress. Thats good because to me, theres room for improvement. I love a challenge and Coach tells me every night to go out and put guys in positions where they can be successful and help the team, and I took the challenge in doing that.
Continue playing. Just have fun, man. Just go out there and play basketball. Thats what weve been doing all our lives. Thats what we know how to do. Just keep that, have fun, man. Everything else will take care of itself.