If the events of Thursday afternoon—the NBA trade deadline or critical comments made by Reggie Rose, the older brother of injured superstar Derrick Rose—affected the Bulls heading into their disappointing loss to Miami later that evening, they wouldn’t let on afterwards.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” was Joakim Noah’s response and fellow All-Star Luol Deng—both players were singled out in the ESPNChicago.com story—took the same stance.
As far as the trade deadline, which passed without the Bulls making a move, Rip Hamilton, who was reportedly being shopped by the team, wasn’t fazed.
“Same old, same old. Pretty much one of those things,” the veteran told CSNChicago.com. “Every year it comes and goes.”
Deng added: “I don’t know if it did [affect Bulls players], but we didn’t talk about it as a team. Maybe it distracted some guys, but I don’t think that was the problem.”
James showcases efficiency
Reigning league MVP LeBron James has been on an incredible tear lately and didn’t slow down upon visiting Chicago, as he went for 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting, to go along with 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau lauded the Heat superstar after the game.
“He’s a great player. The game is real easy for him and I think he’s reading the game extremely well. A guy like that, you try to make him work for his points. That’s all you can do. If you defend and you rebound and you keep your turnovers down, you’re going to be in position to win and if you challenge his shots, he’s got the ability—you could defend him great—and you challenge his shot, he can make,” he observed. “But that being said, we gifted him too many points and you turn the ball over like that, you put him in the open floor, you’re asking for trouble and you’re not going to be successful against a team like that. That’s a concern. That’s a big concern.”
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Carlos Boozer, who was briefly James’ teammate in Cleveland, added: “He hit some tough shots. A lot of isos, hands in his face, hanging in the air, off the glass. He’s playing great.”
Miami went away from the small-ball approach that yielded a title last spring, as veteran power forward Udonis Haslem started the game for a more traditional lineup and recent acquisition Chris Andersen, a shot-blocking reserve center, also received playing time.
“They have a lot of versatility to their team, so they can go big, they can go small, they’re quick. You say that they’re small and LeBron is big. He’s big. He’s tall and he’s, I don’t know, 260, 270. That’s big,” Thibodeau explained. “The rebounding, it wasn’t great, but it was good enough. But the turnovers are what got us. The second quarter and the fourth quarter, we scored 13 points in both quarters. We struggled.”
Bulls ready for Bobcats
The team flew to Charlotte immediately after the game for the second half of the back-to-back, a Friday-night matchup with the lowly Bobcats.
However, Noah wasn’t taking the opponent for granted.
“You can’t overlook anybody in this league. We had a tough game tonight. We’ve got to bounce back,” he said. “No time to sulk or feel sorry for ourselves. Got to come out ready tomorrow.”