Bulls starters meshing at the right time?

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Bulls starters meshing at the right time?

INDIANAPOLISFor the 15th time this season, Tom Thibodeau had the luxury of having his starting group together in Wednesday nights win over the Pacers. While each member of the quintet werent outstanding individuallythe starting backcourt of Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton shot a combined 5-for-21 from the fieldthe Bulls head coach liked what he saw in general.

I like the way the starters started the game. It got us off to a good start. Carlos was really good to start. Derrick had a really good bounce to his game and I like the plays that Rip was making off the catch-and-shoot. Rips shots were great shotsthey were all in and outso I was very pleased with our starters, he said. Theres always things that you could do better, that we need to work on, but were getting there. Our starters havent played a lot together all year, so it was a good opportunity for them to get some quality time on the floor and I thought that was good for us. Our bench has been terrific all season long, so it was good. It was good to have everybody.

As has occurred for much of the season, the Bulls Bench Mob carried the squad, with Kyle Korver in particular having an excellent performance with a team-high 20 points, including making four of his six three-point attempts, but there were good signs from the first unit, as well. For example, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were both extremely productive from the outset, All-Star Luol Deng had a solid all-around night and Rose, the reigning league MVP, appeared to have regained some of his vaunted explosiveness.

Im just trying to play within the group. Theyve been doing a good job making sure that Im taking my time, not rushing anything when I come off picks, just trying to make the right play. Carlos and Joakim are doing a great job of making plays for other people. Lu is playing great, shooting the ball good. Rip is Rip, hitting mid-range and trying to get the line, trying to get people up in the air going into him. I think our chemistry is good. Our bench is even better. Their chemistry is great. They know who should shoot the ball, who shouldnt shoot the ball. Their chemistry is good. Thats the reason why we won the game tonight, Rose explained. Its easy now. Guys arent scared to take shots. If theyre open, were doing what were supposed to do and thats shoot the ball, and moving the ball, so I think our assists are up and were rebounding the ball, too.

Im not worried about that, he continued, when asked about whether hed return to his MVP-level form in the near future. Im going to be all right. Certain situations, if it was a crazy type of game and at the end, I need to take over, thats what Im going to try to do. If not, Im still going to try to play my game, play aggressive.

Unlike a lot of other coaches, Thibodeau is of the mindset that his starters should play significant, if not excessive minutes down the regular seasons stretch run, a position justified by the amount of injuries they incurred over the campaign.

Well see where we are. I want our starters to get more time together, so itll be similar to tonight, but well see how the game unfolds, he explained, when asked about his plans for the Bulls season finale Thursday against Cleveland at the United Center. I just want us to continue to take it step by step. Just get ready tomorrow, have a great walk-through, know Cleveland and the rest of it takes care of itself. Dont worry about all the other stuff.

Korver concurred: Im not into those guys totally staying out. Maybe in certain situations, with certain teams, they can feel that out, but I think for usespecially for us because we have had guys outwe need Derrick to play some. We dont need him to hurt himself or strain anything, but we need him to play and we need to play with him.

Typically, the Bulls win reflected what the team has done all year, with few blips on the radar: Win, no matter how it looks to the casual fan.

Explained Korver: Just a grind-it-out type team. We may have the best record in the league, but we probably also lead the league in ugly games played. Were out there just grinding, man. Were a great defensive team, were a great rebounding team and we definitely rely on both of those things to win.

Added Noah: I think we played well tonight, so thats a good sign and weve just got to keep it up. We just have one more until the playoffs start, so its an exciting time of the year and we just want to be playing the right way.

Even having clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls are proud of achieving the feat in consecutive seasons, but remain focused on the task at hand.

Its huge. Having the best record in the NBA, youve worked hard for it all year and besides, you want to finish the season with good momentum. Weve got our starting unit, we want to get our rhythm down and finish with wins, Deng told CSNChicago.com. I thought we played well. Theres still a lot to work on, get our rhythm down.

Chimed in Rose: Its important, but the only thing weve got to do is win out. The most important thing were thinking about right now is Cleveland.

Knicks' Derrick Rose on rape case: 'I feel like I didn't do anything wrong'

Knicks' Derrick Rose on rape case: 'I feel like I didn't do anything wrong'

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Derrick Rose said Monday he isn't worried about a rape trial set to start next week because he feels he "didn't do anything wrong."

Rose said he is instead focused on his first season with the New York Knicks. His first practice with the team will be Tuesday.

"My concern is just playing well this year," Rose said. "I can't think about the case. I feel like I'm innocent and I feel like I didn't do anything wrong, like I said, and I can't let that distract me with the year that I have ahead of me."

A woman sued Rose last year in California, contending the former MVP and two of his friends raped her in August 2013 while she was incapacitated after a night of drinking. Rose and the others say they had consensual sex with her that night.

The civil trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 4 - barring any settlement - the day the Knicks play their exhibition opener in Houston. It's unclear how much, if any, of the preseason he would have to miss if there is a trial.

"I'm not worried about it, but if I do have to miss time, it's a part of it," Rose said. "Of course I don't want to be in this position, but it is what it is and I'm going to let my lawyers and my team handle it."

Rose added that he hadn't heard anything about a possibility of criminal charges being brought.

The Knicks acquired Rose from Chicago in June. The point guard said he is healthy after a series of injuries, mostly to his knees, that have plagued him since his MVP season in 2011.

Because of the injuries, Rose hasn't played in more than 66 games a season since he first tore his ACL in the 2012 playoffs. Rehab has forced him to report early or stay late after practices and games for much of the last few years, which he said was tiresome.

But he was able to focus on basketball this summer while adding yoga to his workout routine, and Knicks who have been playing with him say Rose's quickness has returned.

"He's extremely focused right now," All-Star Carmelo Anthony said, adding that he's never played with a point guard with Rose's explosiveness. "He's healthy, he has a different mindset. He has a clear mind and he's ready to go out there and try to help us with our goals."

Rose was the biggest addition to a Knicks team that also signed his former Bulls teammate, Joakim Noah, and veteran guards Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. If he remains healthy, Rose can get the Knicks playing at a quicker pace and create easier baskets under new coach Jeff Hornacek, after their offense often stalled while playing the triangle under Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis the last two years.

Lee said Rose, who once hit a game-winning shot over him while Lee played for Houston, has looked confident during offseason workouts.

"He kind of reminded me of that MVP D-Rose, especially in some of the drills that we were doing," Lee said. "He was able to get to his spots quick, explosiveness and knock down shots."

Rose averaged 16.4 points in 66 games last season, and most of the games he missed were unrelated to his knees. The Chicago native has been focused on learning a new city and team, traveling with a group of Knicks players to practice in Puerto Rico at Anthony's invitation.

Having to miss time in October would delay his ability to get comfortable. A settlement would prevent that, but Rose didn't discuss that possibility, praising his legal team for taking care of the details.

"They're handling everything and they're giving me time to focus on what I need to focus on and that's just straight basketball," Rose said.

Wade in Bulls jersey: same material, different reality

Wade in Bulls jersey: same material, different reality

Media Day has become old hat for Dwyane Wade, so much so that he could go through the motions, interviews and promotional shots in Miami with his eyes closed.

But he looked like a wide-eyed rookie at times going through everything in the Advocate Center Monday, including the white-and-red jersey that was draped over his chest.

“It's really not the jersey. It's the same material so it feels the same,” he said. “It's a different environment. I was somewhere for so long, I knew where to go, I can walk backwards and get anywhere I want to go. It's just different, but different is not a bad thing.”

Comparing himself to the “new kid” in school, it won’t be long before Wade finds himself being the cool kid in class that everybody gravitates to and follows as an example, being a three-time champion and sure-fire Hall of Famer—at least that’s what the Bulls brass expects to happen.

“If I were a young player on this roster and I saw Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Taj Gibson, Robin (Lopez), I would soak up what they bring,” Bulls Vice-President John Paxson said. “As a young player you want to have longevity and success in this league and there's success right in front of them.”

Wade’s successes came in Miami, which makes Wade’s statement about things being different that much more pronounced—and before he can lead, he must adjust to the Bulls, and they to him.

His usage and his on-court role isn’t clear, as the Bulls are well-aware of the maintenance that comes with a player at his age—a player who was still pretty effective despite decline in the last few years.

“Our medical team and our athletic-performance team, we’ve visited some with him,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “But that’s going to be fluid. I don’t know that any definitive have come from that yet, but it’s obviously something that we’ll watch in regards to Dwyane being a little bit older but really to a number of our players.”

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Adjusting to his body, adjusting to a new city and even to a social conscience that has emerged since signing with the Bulls has been the theme of his summer.

His life—and the lives of many people close to him have changed in recent months and even days. From watching former teammate LeBron James bring home a title to Cleveland to his own departure from Miami after 13 years to sadly, watching Chris Bosh struggle with the news of his basketball mortality meeting up with the threat of his actual life, it’s been one after another after another.

“This news about basketball is unfortunate, and it was not nothing that he wanted to hear I'm sure, and nothing I wanted to hear for him and no one that loves Chris or is around him,” said Wade in reference to Bosh not being cleared by the Heat due to blood-clotting issues that ended Bosh’s last two seasons at the All-Star break. “It's another bump in the road in life that, from a basketball standpoint, Chris Bosh will figure out what he wants to do in life.”

“For Chris, it's a bump in the road for him in life. He's 31 years old, he's got a long life to live. Hopefully he'll get back on a basketball court. In a perfect world. But if not, for me, I'm just happy that we're able to be friends and enjoy life as friends and see him be healthy in that way.”

And oh yeah, he also stood in front of a nationally-televised audience at the ESPY awards two months ago, challenging his fellow athletes to take stock of what’s going on around them and more specifically, the ails plaguing people of color in this country.

It wasn’t so much a stand as much as it was a statement, and others have taken the baton to make waves that will be felt around the NBA.

His battle, he believes, is different from the one Colin Kaepernick is drawing attention to, as Wade sees the endless violence in Chicago and has jumped in feet first to make his presence known.

“I think Kaepernick educated a lot of us on things we didn't know, things we wasn't aware of. I think for me, things in this city that I've seen, we have a different kind of battle here in Chicago, a different focus,” Wade said. “That's what my focus is on. My focus is on this city and what am I capable of doing to help our youth in this city in a bigger way. That's where my focus is.”

“But what (Kaepernick) is doing is great because it's what he wants to do, it's what he believes in and he's using his voice for that cause.”

And as Wade turns the corner, a fresh start after a surprising divorce, the new old kid in town reiterated Chicago is the place for him—even as he adjusts.

“I'm figuring it all out,” he said. “Like I said, I'm happy to be here. At this time in my career, this is where I want to be.”