Bulls looking to right ship after two-game losing streak

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Bulls looking to right ship after two-game losing streak

Following Wednesday afternoons practice, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was in high spirits, almost chipper. Perhaps it was because the basketball junkie finally had a chance to see his full roster practice, but his mood was in sharp contrast to the negative vibe emitting from him after Mondays home loss to Houston.

Our team needed it. We havent a lot of opportunity to practice, so it gave us a chance to clean up some things and hopefully itll carry over tomorrow, he said. Offensively, we havent been scoring the way we would like and its probably a compilation of things. Were playing low energy, so weve got to try to get some easier baskets. Now, weve shot the three fairly well, so thats been a plus, but overall, we havent shot well and were in a little bit of a lull. Hopefully the two days off will be good for us.

We feel great about our depth and weve got some guys who are nicked up in the backcourt, and theyre playing, but we do have good depth and sometimes you go through stretches where youre not shooting it well, and hopefully your defense and your rebounding will carry you through that, he continued. I thought the big thing in the last game was the whole year weve been a very good low-turnover team, but the Houston game we turned it over 19 times for 25 points. That really lost us the game.

Thats contrary to the message he sent Monday.

No edge, no defense, Thibodeau said after the Bulls blew a 15-point lead to lose to the Rockets at the United Center. I felt like we let go of the rope. Usually, were a team that has shown great fight all year, great resolve. Get down, fight back, never let go of the rope. The last two games, I felt we let go of the rope. We have to get that fight back. We have to get that edge back. Right now, were not playing well. We have to work our way out of it.

Its collective. Were capable of playing much better. The one thing I know about this league is things change quickly, both from good to bad and bad to good. We have a Boston team thats coming in and playing great. At this time of the year, you have teams playing with great urgency. Houston played a great game. They played hard. They fought. Theyre fighting for a playoff spot. Every night when you come in, you have to be ready to fight. People are playing for things. You relax, let your guard down, youre going to get knocked on your ass. Thats the way it is, he continued. If you do three things -- defend, rebound, keep your turnovers down -- youre going to be in position to win regardless of how you shoot. Right now, were bogged down scoring. If we do those other three things, well be in position to win. But were not defending, were turning it over and were not scoring. You cant win like that. We have to correct that. Thats the first step. We have to get that down.

His players didnt deny that the team is currently in a malaise.

I don't think we let go of the rope, but anytime we lose two in a row, questions creep in. Look, the only way we're going to get out of it is us. We fix it ourselves, We put ourselves in this great season and we're going to finish with it a great season. It's up to us to fix it, said Carlos Boozer. We'll figure it out.

Added Luol Deng: We've got to get back to the way we play, just find ways to win. We're not doing that right now.

It's a lot of things throughout the game that we've got to look at. The first thing is always defensively, but it's a lot of stuff, a lot of things we've got to go back, see what we're not doing and try to get back to what we do.

We just didn't bring it. There's still games left in the season to try to fix it. We know where we want to get to and what we want to do. It's definitely something that you don't want to go through, but we've got to turn it around as fast as possible," he continued. "We've got enough guys in here to win. We've proven that. We've got guys that can play. Guys have stepped up all year. Teams are going through the same schedule as us, so it's not that Rose being out. They've got guys out, too. Derrick's a big part of what we do, but we've still got enough guys in here to win games. If we lost every game with the injuries that we've had, then we would say that, but we've beaten good teams.

We can't wait for him to be back.

Thibodeau agreed that Roses ongoing 11-game absence the All-Star point guard could return in the Bulls next game isnt the reason for the teams slide.

To me, thats the convenient excuse. At this time of the year, you can say injuries. You can say condensed schedule. I dont know, what else is there? Back-to back, four in five, three in a row? The fact of the matter is we lost the last two games because of our mistakes. Not because of injuries. Not because of Derrick. Not because of any of that, he explained. The guys we have have shown we have more than enough to win with. We can fall back. But every team in the league is dealing with injuries and the same schedule. We have to have a determination that were going to get it done regardless of the what the circumstances are. The teams that succeed in this league find a way to win. And thats what we have to do.

Overall, however, theres no reason to push the panic button. After a 62-win regular season a year ago and having the leagues best record for the majority of this campaign, its easy to get spoiled, but the fact that people are up in arms about the Bulls simply losing two games in a row is a testament to just how good this team has been.

One could view Sundays embarrassing loss at Oklahoma City as especially concerning the fact that Thibodeau tinkered with his starting lineup (inserting Kyle Korver and bringing Ronnie Brewer off the bench to match up with Thunder sixth-man extraordinaire James Harden) was surprising, even considering the matchup, for the by-the-book coach and not giving a full effort against Houston was another mild shock, but in the course of an NBA season, things happen. To Brewer, the answer to the Bulls problems is simple.

We just have to get a sense of urgency. We've only got so many games left. Miami's right on our butt and if we don't start to play better, we're going to lose home court, so that's very important to us. You never want to lose a game, especially two, he said. We've just got to play better. We've been rebounding pretty well, but we're not making teams miss and the rebounding goes out of the window. That's one of the things that have made us successful all year long -- dominating the boards, getting stops and getting into our offense.

Not to take anything away from Houston, but the way we've been playing all year and last year, if we play our style of our basketball, play hard and cut down on all the mistakes, we're supposed to win games like this, so whenever you lose to a team you're capable of beating, it's always a little tough, Brewer, back in a reserve role with Rip Hamiltons return to the lineup, continued. We didn't play our best basketball against the Thunder, so you try to wipe that game out and come back Monday and try to play better, but unfortunately, we didn't.

Still, it isnt as if the Bulls are suddenly a middle-of-the-pack team, fighting for their playoff lives and with the rival Heat also enduring their own struggles and even the mighty Thunder dropping a game Tuesday night, its just that time of the year where title contenders especially those missing their best player might not look as dominant when matched up with squads in need of simply qualifying for the postseason. Brewer reasoned that losing two games shouldnt put people in a frenzy.

It's not the end of the world. We still have a lot of games left. I don't think we're going to have a demise and we're not going to make the playoffs. We need to continue to get better, continue to work on things and turn it around sooner than later, the backup swingman said. When you lose games, you can look at everything. You can say we didn't shoot a high percentage from the three, we gave up a high a field-goal percentage, you can say we missed free throws, you can say we didn't get defensive stops. You can point a lot of different things in a loss.

Everybody plays the same amount of games. Everybody's has back-to-back-to-backs, everybody's had back-to-backs, four in five nights, so to say the short season with a lot of games and guys are getting tired, to me, that's an excuse, Brewer went on to say. We play basketball. We get paid fairly well to do it, so you find a way to fight through and continue to play at your highest level. There's stretches where you don't play your best basketball -- you miss shots -- but effort should never be one of the things that is not there.

CSN announces its 2016-17 Bulls season coverage details

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CSN announces its 2016-17 Bulls season coverage details

Pre-Season Action begins Oct. 3, First Regular Season game on Oct. 29, Plus – Live Pre/Post-Game Shows all season long and comprehensive nightly coverage on ‘SportsNet Central,’ Highlight 2016-17 Schedule Live streaming coverage of EVERY Pre-Season and Regular Season Bulls telecast – including all Pre/Post-Game Shows – to be made available to authenticated subscribers on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports app

CSNChicago.com to feature 24/7 reporting from Bulls “Insider” Vincent Goodwill; website to also feature live video of Post-Game Press Conferences

“Bulls Pulse” Social Media Center, Daily Player/Coaches Interviews, Game Highlights, plus In-Game Twitter updates from CSN talent and much more!

Chicago, IL (September 28, 2016) – Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Bulls, is once again ready to deliver another thrill-packed season of NBA excitement with 42 live regular season Bulls games (21 home, 21 away), including in-depth pre-game and post-game shows, and the most thorough 24/7 online Bulls coverage to date on CSNChicago.com!

In addition -- EVERY pre-season and regular season Bulls telecast on Comcast SportsNet, including surrounding Bulls Pre/Postgame Live coverage, will once again be streamed live on CSNChicago.com and will be made available via the NBC Sports app on tablets and smart phones.  The live stream of CSN’s Bulls telecasts is presented by Xfinity.  Authenticated Comcast SportsNet Chicago subscribers can watch live Bulls action from anywhere in the United States.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  For a full list of carriers and more information about CSN Chicago’s live streaming service of Bulls games, viewers are urged to visit the following link: http://www.csnchicago.com/live-faq .  

The 2016-17 Chicago Bulls regular season on Comcast SportsNet/CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports app gets underway on Saturday, October 29, as three-time NBA Champion/12-time NBA All-Star/Chicago native Dwyane Wade & NBA Champion/four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo join two-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler, along with Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott, Bobby Portis, Tony Snell, newcomer Robin Lopez, and rookie Denzel Valentine among others, as the Bulls host the Central Division rival Indiana Pacers at 7:00 PM CT, featuring the always-entertaining announcing tandem of Neil Funk and Stacey King (NOTE: Coverage gets underway with an expanded, one-hour edition of Bulls Pregame Live presented by Coors Light at 6:00 PM LIVE from the United Center with hosts Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Will Perdue).  Kia Bulls Postgame Live immediately follows the game featuring Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg’s post-game press conference, along with live locker room player interviews and complete post-game analysis.  Plus – CSNChicago.com Bulls “Insider” Vincent Goodwill will make regular on-air appearances throughout the season on Bulls Pre/Postgame Live and during home game telecasts.

In addition to the 42 regular season games, Comcast SportsNet/CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports app will also televise six Bulls pre-season games starting on Monday, October 3 at 7:00 PM, when the Bulls face the Milwaukee Bucks live at the United Center.  Additional pre-season match-ups will air on Oct. 6 at Indiana, Oct. 14 vs. Cleveland, Oct. 15 at Milwaukee, Oct. 17 vs. Charlotte, and Oct. 20 vs. Atlanta (in Omaha, NB). 

Highlights from this season’s Bulls regular season schedule on Comcast SportsNet/CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports app features 27 big games against Eastern Conference foes, ten of which are against Central Division opponents.  Among the key highlights on this season’s Bulls telecast schedule features a huge United Center battle against LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers (Dec. 2), a return home for former Bulls C/F Pau Gasol as the San Antonio Spurs invade the UC (Dec. 8), a home match-up against Dwyane Wade’s former club, the Miami Heat (Jan. 27), a road battle against back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry & the 73-9 regular season/Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors (Jan. 8), a road match-up against former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and his Minnesota Timberwolves (Feb. 12), along with a late season visit to Madison Square Garden when the Bulls take on former team All-Stars Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and the New York Knicks (Apr. 4). (NOTE: Comcast SportsNet/CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports app’s complete 2016-17 pre-season and regular season Bulls schedule appears at the end of this release).

For the ninth-straight season, veteran Bulls play-by-play announcer Neil Funk will be teamed up with former Bulls standout center Stacey King, who will handle color analysis all season long.  SportsNet Central’s Bulls beat reporter Chuck Garfien will also be the primary courtside reporter for Bulls home game telecasts this season. 

Bulls Pregame Live presented by Coors Light (featuring hosts Mark Schanowski, former NBA/Bulls/Fighting Illini standout Kendall Gill, and four-time NBA champion center, including three titles with the Bulls, Will Perdue) is a half-hour pre-game show featuring a breakdown of the evening’s match-up, interviews with coaches and players and a look at the other games around the NBA.  Bulls Pregame Live will air prior to every Bulls game this season with additional weeknight Bulls pre-game discussion airing on SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado.  Featuring host David Kaplan, SportsTalk Live will also be the place to hear from numerous Bulls/NBA experts all season long.

Immediately following every game this season, viewers can look forward to the most comprehensive post-game wrap-up show on Kia Bulls Postgame Live.  Kia Bulls Postgame Live (hosted by Schanowski/Gill/Perdue) will also feature live coverage of Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg’s post-game press conference and live locker room interviews with Bulls players.  Following the majority of evening Kia Bulls Postgame Live airings, viewers can catch GMC SportsNet Central at 10:00 & 10:30 PM and SportsNet Central presented by CLR at 12 Midnight with the most complete recap of the day’s top local and national sports news. 

One pre-season and one regular season Bulls game is currently scheduled to be telecast on Comcast SportsNet Plus (see attached schedule).  Comcast SportsNet Plus (CSN+) telecasts are provided to Comcast SportsNet affiliates and distributed to viewers when two live events are scheduled simultaneously.  CSN+ is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for complete channel location details). Comcast Cable and RCN subscribers can also watch all CSN+ games in standard definition on CLTV. 

In addition to its live stream of every Bulls pre-season/regular season/playoff telecast, Comcast SportsNet’s website, CSNChicago.com, delivers comprehensive 24/7 Bulls coverage all season long, including the following highlights: 

  • Live stream of Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's post-game press conferences following EVERY home game telecast.
  • Video highlights from every Bulls game, including in-game highlights at halftime.  Pre-game interviews from team practices will also be provided, as well as extensive post-game reaction from the locker room and analysis from the “Kia Bulls Postgame Live” team.
  • “Bulls Pulse,” a one-stop social media and behind-the-scenes destination that reveals the latest real time trending topics, player buzz and expert insight from Twitter and Instagram.  Plus, “Bulls Pulse” aggregates all Bulls player tweets, along with fan tweets that utilize the hashtag #BullsTalk.
  • “Bulls In-Game Live,” – featuring STATS Inc.’s enhanced Game Zone real-time tracking system – is a second screen platform for PCs, tablets and mobile devices that combine state-of-the-art infographics, data visualization of real-time statistics and game info with rich social interactivity tied to CSN Chicago’s live game broadcasts.
  • Push Alerts: CSN Chicago will deliver Bulls push notifications for breaking team and player news, “Insider” reports, plus game reminder alerts via CSN Chicago’s SportsTalk app for iOS and Android devices.
  • BullsTalk, CSNChicago.com’s high-velocity, real-time, comprehensive Bulls news and opinion section featuring original commentary, reporting and aggregation. BullsTalk contains interactive content with continually updated insights from the network’s talent, which includes the new #BullsTalk podcast.
  • CSNChicago.com Bulls “Insider” Vincent Goodwill enters his second full season on the Bulls beat. Follow him on Twitter @vgoodwill for the latest team/player news and inside access 24/7.  Bulls digital reporter and producer Mark Strotman (@markstrot) will also provide Bulls and NBA reports/features on the beat with Goodwill. 
  • @CSNBulls on Twitter provides 24/7 full team coverage, giveaways, fan photos and game day news straight from the United Center and across the country.
  • Expanded coverage from Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Chuck Garfien, CSN Chicago’s Bulls reporting team will provide pre-game and post-game coverage throughout the playoffs, along with digital content contribution and videos for CSNChicago.com throughout the season.  Follow them on Twitter @MarkSchanowski, @KendallG13, @Will_Perdue32, and @ChuckGarfien.
  • Bulls coverage on CSNChicago.com/Bulls is presented by Toyota.

COMCAST SPORTSNET CHICAGO

CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports app

 

2016 - 2017 Chicago Bulls Schedule

 

Pre-season:

  1. Mon, Oct 3           vs Milwaukee                            7:00 pm  
  2. Thu, Oct 6            @ Indiana                                7:00 pm
  3. Fri, Oct 14            vs Cleveland                             7:00pm         CSN+
  4. Sat, Oct 15           @ Milwaukee                            7:30 pm
  5. Mon, Oct 17         vs Charlotte                              7:00 pm
  6. Thu, Oct 20          @ Atlanta (Omaha)                   7:00 pm

Regular Season:

  1. Sat, Oct 29           vs Indiana                                7:00 pm
  2. Mon, Oct 31         @ Brooklyn                              6:30 pm
  3. Sat, Nov 5            @ Indiana                                6:00 pm
  4. Wed, Nov 9          @ Atlanta                                 6:30 pm        
  5. Thu, Nov 17         @ Utah                                    9:30 pm        
  6. Sun, Nov 20         @ Los Angeles Lakers              8:30 pm
  7. Tue, Nov 22         @ Denver                                 8:00 pm
  8. Wed, Nov 30        vs Los Angeles Lakers              7:00 pm
  9. Fri, Dec 2             vs Cleveland                             7:00 pm        
  10. Mon, Dec 5          vs Portland                               7:00 pm
  11. Tue, Dec 6           @ Detroit                                 6:30 pm
  12. Thu, Dec 8           vs San Antonio                         8:30 pm        
  13. Fri, Dec 16           vs Milwaukee                            7:00 pm
  14. Mon, Dec 19         vs Detroit                                 7:00 pm
  15. Wed, Dec 21        vs Washington                          7:00 pm
  16. Mon, Dec 26         vs Indiana                                7:00 pm
  17. Wed, Dec 28        vs Brooklyn                              7:00 pm
  18. Fri, Dec 30           @ Indiana                                3:00 pm
  19. Mon, Jan 2           vs Charlotte                              7:00 pm
  20. Mon, Jan 9           vs Oklahoma City                     7:00 pm
  21. Tue, Jan 10          @ Washington                          6:00 pm
  22. Sat, Jan 14           vs New Orleans                        4:00 pm
  23. Tue, Jan 17          vs Dallas                                  7:00 pm         CSN+
  24. Wed, Jan 25         vs Atlanta                                 7:00 pm
  25. Fri, Jan 27            vs Miami                                  7:00 pm        
  26. Sun, Jan 29          vs Philadelphia                          6:00 pm
  27. Fri, Feb 3             @ Houston                               7:00 pm
  28. Wed, Feb 8          @ Golden State                        9:30 pm        
  29. Sun, Feb 12         @ Minnesota                            2:30 pm
  30. Tue, Feb 14          vs Toronto                                7:00 pm
  31. Tue, Feb 28          vs Denver                                 7:00 pm
  32. Mon, Mar 6          @ Detroit                                 6:30 pm
  33. Wed, Mar 8          @ Orlando                               6:00 pm
  34. Mon, Mar 13         @ Charlotte                              6:00 pm
  35. Wed, Mar 15        vs Memphis                              7:00 pm
  36. Fri, Mar 17           @ Washington                          6:00 pm
  37. Tue, Mar 21         @ Toronto                                6:00 pm        
  38. Sun, Mar 26         @ Milwaukee                            2:30 pm
  39. Sun, Apr 2            @ New Orleans                        5:00 pm
  40. Tue, Apr 4            @ New York                             7:00 pm        
  41. Thu, April 6           @ Philadelphia                          6:00 pm
  42. Mon, April 10        vs Orlando                               7:00 pm                                             

6 pre-season, 42 regular season (21 Home, 21 Road regular season)

Total 48 Games

 

All Times Central Time/Schedule Subject to Change

 

Fred Hoiberg, Jimmy Butler rave about Rajon Rondo's voice, basketball IQ

Fred Hoiberg, Jimmy Butler rave about Rajon Rondo's voice, basketball IQ

With one Bulls practice in the books and one more to go in the night session, it was evident from the primary parties that Rajon Rondo has earned instant trust and credibility with his play.

Or more pointedly, his brain and his mouth.

“He’s got the best voice on the team,” head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “When you have point guard out there who can get you into something and talk the way he does, that sets the tone for everybody.”

Apparently the ultra-intelligent point guard has been a galvanizing force since the team starting convening last month for informal workouts, as Hoiberg believes Rondo has grasped his system instantly and brought some of the younger teammates along.

“The biggest thing that I’ve been most impressed with with Rajon is the minute he stepped on this floor when he got back here in August is he pulled everybody together,” Hoiberg said. “If you have a guy not only offensively getting you into something but defensively making sure guys are pointing and talking and making sure guys are pointing and talking and getting back and matched up in transition, that’s where it starts. He’s been here. He’s been great. He’s a guy who you can watch film with in September before we got rolling here in camp. He got us off to a great start.”

Needing Rondo to be vocal will be a plus for Hoiberg considering the coach’s soft-spoken approach, and those two being on one accord will be a key considering Rondo’s history with coaches over time.

Rondo’s intelligence, which most consider to be genius-like, has already come in handy and will help with the perimeter adjustment of fitting himself, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade together.

“Like I always say, when you put good basketball players out there on the floor you just go,” Butler said. “Everything just falls into place, falls into line. You don’t have to worry about too much of anything. And with him he’s an incredible leader. He just wants everybody to be successful. He’s going to put you in position to be just that.”

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Rondo has led the league in assists three times and his career 8.7 assists-per-game average is third among active players behind Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers) and John Wall (Washington Wizards).

“He has been around the league a long time,” Hoiberg said. “He studies the league. If he sees a small guy guarding Jimmy, he’s going to find a way to get him the ball on the block. The more you can have those guys recognizing things on the floor---if Robin Lopez is coming down and I have to yell, ‘Get the ball to Robin’ then we have issues -- and Rondo obviously will be a big help with that.”

So yeah, he’ll have the ball in his hands plenty.

“He’s super-smart. He really sees things before they even develop out there on the basketball floor, so it makes everybody’s job a lot easier," Butler said. "And not only is he leading the team on offense, but he’s constantly talking on defense, so he’s letting everybody know where they have to be. Wade’s the same way, so he makes everybody’s job easier as well, and you learn from that, so you just follow suit for the most part.’’

Butler joked that there will often be times where a Rondo pass zigs while he’ll be zagging early in camp while chemistry is developing, saying “I’m sorry, Rajon, because you’re going to definitely get a turnover from me one game,” and that he won’t be opposed to Rondo getting on him or anybody else in the meantime.

“I’m good with that,” Butler said. “I’ll challenge him right back if I see something that he’s not doing correctly. I want him to hold me accountable, me hold him accountable, everybody holding everybody accountable, because then everybody is going to learn from their mistakes and not to it again.”