Bulls anxious to turn tables on Sixers

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Bulls anxious to turn tables on Sixers

PHILADELPHIA It would be a stretch to call Sundays game a grudge match, but lets just say the Bulls didnt take their 16-point defeat at the hands of the 76ers last month lightly. The good news is they believe they know how to remedy what went wrong.

Play a lot tougher. Theyre good. They beat us up pretty good last time we played them here. Just got to make the adjustment, where we know its going to be a hard-fought game and come out prepared, Derrick Rose said, prior to the teams Sunday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center. Our effort. They beat us to every loose ball, out-rebounded us, transition couldnt stop them in transition, just getting back and it was hard to look at that tape.

Come out more prepared. Theyre a good team. I think were kind of mad at the way that they smacked us last time, at their place. Its definitely going to be a fun game, he continued. I think being locked in all 48 minutes. Theyre a good team. I thought the first half, we played decent over there, kind of lost focus a little bit in the second half and they made their run. Weve got to stop that. Weve got to go in focused. Were playing a very good team, good team at home, but were pretty confident with the last three games that weve played and having everyone back, so were looking forward to going out there and having a good game.

Rip Hamilton, who missed the February loss, chimed in from an observers viewpoint: They beat us to every loose ball, they came out with a lot of energy. It was game that we wanted to get that they won, so tonight we want to be prepared to hit first.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau diagnosed his teams issues in the blowout defeat, in which he sat his starters throughout the entire fourth quarter, from a strategic standpoint.

They were really soft in the pick-and-roll. They were forcing weak. We turned the ball over. That was our big problem, he said. Theyre athletic and quick, and if you turn the ball over, you put them in the open floor and thats where they do their damage. The thing thats different about them is they have a number of guys who can go off the dribble. Iguodala can handle the ball a lot, Holiday handles the ball, Lou Williams comes in great pick-and-roll player Turner can handle the ball and then, Thaddeus Young, hes a matchup problem because of his quickness at the four.

Thibodeau lauded the Sixers unselfishness on offense, citing it as a key to their success this season, in which they lead the Atlantic Division, ahead of more ballyhooed squads, such as Boston and New York.

They play for each other. I think thats the important thing. Play to win, make the extra pass, hit the open man, so I think you start off with that in mind. It starts off with your primary scorers. I think they have the responsibility of making the right play, so when theyre one-on-one and have the opportunities to score, they look to do so, but when the second defender comes, they have the responsibility to make the right play, hit the open man, said Thibodeau. The hard thing is being committed as a team to share the ball and I think if you have the right guys, theyll do that and I think if you look at the good teams in this league, to advance and to play well, I think you have to do that, so if one guys holding on to the ball, it makes it easy on the defense.

Five Things to Watch: Bulls try to snap skid against Spurs on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls try to snap skid against Spurs on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Spurs tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com, the only place where you can get the hometown call from Neil and Stacey.

Coverage begins at 8 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1. Attempting to end perfection. The Spurs have been absolutely electric outside of San Antonio this season, winning each of their first 13 road games to begin the year. That's the second longest streak in NBA history, and the Bulls have actually lost two of three at home. The Bulls will be home underdogs as the Spurs look to make it 14 in a row. The good news is the Bulls have defeated the Spurs at home each of the last two seasons.

2. Battle of the two-way studs. There's a real argument to be made that Thursday's matchup will tout the two best two-way players in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard, the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is having his best offensive season to date, averaging 24.5 points on 46 percent shooting, 1.9 triples, and averaging nearly 91 percent from the free-throw line. Expect Jimmy Butler and Leonard to be on each other's rear most of the night in what should be one of the most fun 1-on-1 matchups in the NBA.

3. Questions at the point. For the Spurs, Tony Parker is questionable to play with a knee injury. If he can't go, it would be Nico Laprovittola and Patty Mills running the point. For the Bulls, Rajon Rondo is coming off a pair of ugly performances in Bulls' losses to the Mavericks and Pistons (and his suspension against the Blazers). Someone needs to step up at the point, and it could decide Thursday night's winner.

4. Pau returns to the UC. Though it didn't result in much success, Pau Gasol enjoyed two highly successful seasons in Chicago. The stat-stuffer was named an All-Star in both seasons, averaging 17.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 150 games. He's now in San Antonio, filling Tim Duncan's role in the starting lineup. And though his numvers are down from a year ago, he's still capable of putting up numbers, especially against a Bulls' interior that has struggled of late.

5. Getting Doug McDermott back. Dougie McBuckets has been activated to the Bulls roster, and not a moment too soon. Since McDermott suffered a concussion on Nov. 12, the Bulls bench ranks 26th in 3-pointers per game (2.5) and 30th in 3-point field-goal percentage (23.5 percent). Getting McDermott back, even in a small role as he gets his legs under him, will be a major factor against a Spurs team whose offense continues to heat up in December.

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Bulls: Rajon Rondo calls incident with assistant coach 'part of the game'

Bulls: Rajon Rondo calls incident with assistant coach 'part of the game'

AUBURN HILLS, MICH—Rajon Rondo almost made it to the quarter mark of the season without incident, but his frustrations got the better of him in Dallas last weekend in a situation with Bulls assistant coach Jim Boylen.

He returned from his one-game suspension in a light mood, but didn’t take things lightly when addressing questions from the media after the Bulls’ 102-91 loss to Detroit.

Rondo admitted that he feels so strongly about things that he doesn’t let them go as easily as he should, which could have been the case with Boylen. Rondo threw a towel after an exchange with Boylen during the Bulls’ blowout loss to the Mavericks.

“That’s a good way to put it. Me as a player, a point guard, I have to handle a situation better,” Rondo said. “But when I feel a certain way, I’m gonna speak on it. My whole thing is always for the betterment of the team.

“If it comes off wrong or a certain way I’ll try to work on that. But for the most part I’m not a selfish individual, I try to do what’s best for the team, try to watch film with my teammates. That’s just part of the game, who I am.”

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When asked if he actually threw a towel at Boylen, Rondo quipped, “You gotta look at the film,” and tried to downplay the situation as best he could, noting the timing of the event in question.

He apologized to the coaching staff and his teammates and believes there won’t be lasting effects, although the Bulls are in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

“Hopefully it’ll be the last three-game losing streak,” Rondo said. “It’s about how you handle adversity. We usually handle it well as far as bouncing back.”

Calling the incident “part of the game,” Rondo didn’t want to address specifics but given his history of instances such as these in Boston, Dallas and Sacramento, this one makes it a little harder to shake the reputation of being difficult to deal with.

“I have a good relationship with my team and I take pride in being a great teammate,” Rondo said. “I think we’re still on the same page. When you lose, things get blown out of proportion. When you win, it covers everything up. So we have to get back to winning basketball.”

His teammates have been supportive both behind the scenes and publicly, and were happy to have him back despite not being able to quell the losing streak.

“It was good. That's our starting point guard. We need veteran guys on this team,” Bulls guard Dwyane Wade said. “We need our bodies. He's our leader today so when we got down early he was the one who kept talking to us defensively. He's so smart out there on the floor, takes certain things away, get out in open transition. The reason we got back in the game, he did a good job of leading us in those moments.”