Bulls unhappy with end of trip, but happy to be home

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Bulls unhappy with end of trip, but happy to be home

BOSTON -- Derrick Roses Monday appointment with a back specialist aside, on paper, all seems well with the Bulls these days. Sure, they didnt close out their nine-game road trip the way they would have liked after losing Sunday to the Celtics, but a 6-3 record is nothing to complain about.

Right? Wrong, if you ask them.

Those three losses that we had, its not something we like. We wish we could go back, play them again and win them all, but the challenge for us now is to go back home and take care of our home court, said Carlos Boozer. We wish we didnt lose one of them, man. We feel like we could be undefeated and to have the six, seven losses that we have, its tough because we feel like we should have won every one of them.

Concurred Rose: I think we did badly, man. We were 6-3. For us, thats not good. We did kind of badly on this trip. Hopefully the next trip that we have, we play well and our record is better than this one.

Joakim Noah agreed: 6-3, its OK, but its not great. For what were trying to do, were not happy with 6-3.

Left unsaid was the fact that the three opponents the Bulls lost to -- Miami, Philadelphia and Boston -- were the three toughest of the trip. While beating Central Division rival Milwaukee, a pre-Linsanity Knicks team and the murderers row of Washington, New Orleans, Charlotte and New Jersey could be considered taking care of business and avoiding letdowns, it isnt exactly a resume booster.

Youve got to play well on the road. You cant judge anything now. You judge it at the end. When you go in and you play a quality opponent on the road, every team is capable of beating you. Youve got to do the same things to win, argued Tom Thibodeau. You could lose to anybody in this league. I dont look at it the way you guys do. I look at it totally different.

I thought we hung tough, I thought we got good bench play out of a number of guys. The starters played well, but we still could have done a lot better, continued the coach in evaluating the trip. Some things we did well, some things we need to improve upon, so theres good and bad, but wed like to have the opportunity to have some practice time, where we can work on improving in all areas and were looking forward to that.

Luol Deng put a positive spin on it: It was a great road trip. We want to win every game. At the same time, we got to spend a lot of time together off the court. It kind of helped us. But a lot of games, we came out and played great. We wanted to end it better. Even though we didnt play great tonight, we still gave ourselves a chance to win the game and it came down to right at the end.

After more than two weeks of living out of suitcases, the Bulls return to the Windy City and begin a slate of home games that lasts until the All-Star break.

Were looking forward to it. We wish we went back off of a win, but itll be good to be back in Chicago, said Boozer. I dont think were far from where we want to be. I think were right there, but it would be good to get healthy a little bit and get some of the guys that were missing back. It would be great, but itll be good to be back in Chicago, get some home-cooked meals, sleep in our own beds and play some home games at the UC.

Rose chimed in: I cant wait, just to be in the UC again. I know our fans are going to come out and support us. Its going to be fun, exciting and its going to be some good games.

Deng, who played Sunday with a heavy bandage on his left wrist, has personal reasons to be happy to play at the United Center again after more than two weeks away from the West Side.

The injury and being out, then getting on the road and playing on the road, Im not going to lie to you: Im looking forward to going home and playing at home, said Deng. Honestly, its always good to be home. Its always good to play in front of your fans, but its the NBA. Whatever your schedule is like, it doesnt really matter. You have a tough schedule early or tough schedule late, it really doesnt matter. Youve just got to focus on your next game. I think its a lot of things going on -- All-Star, all that, game, youre playing this, youre playing that -- all that, youve got to put all that aside and just focus on the next game.

Above all, Thibodeau expects his squad to keep its foot on the gas, no matter the quality of opponents (not that he thinks any foe is weak, of course) for not only the home stand, but for the remainder of the Bulls schedule, which is regarded as significantly easier, in terms of travel, opposition and off days.

Weve got to be ready when we go home, thats the big thing. We cant look back. Everybodys going to say, Your schedule changes, its going to be easy, and its not going to be easy, he said. You cant look ahead, you cant look behind. Youve just got to stare at that next one. The next ones Sacramento. Weve got to be ready for it.

Doug McDermott to return for Bulls against Spurs after missing 11 games with concussion

Doug McDermott to return for Bulls against Spurs after missing 11 games with concussion

After a couple weeks of woozy moments, confusing car rides and 11 games of inactivity due to suffering a concussion Bulls forward Doug McDermott will return to action tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.

McDermott took a hard fall Nov. 12 against the Washington Wizards while going up for a dunk, hitting his head on the unforgiving floor of the United Center and had to go through the concussion protocol before finally being cleared. It was his second concussion this season, with the first coming on Halloween.

“Good, great, it’s been a long couple weeks, but finally feel good to be able to go out there and compete, so I’m excited,” McDermott said after morning shootaround at the Advocate Center.

The last couple of days after being cleared for contact, he practiced with the Bulls’ D-League team in the attempt to get some rhythm and most importantly, some conditioning after being out for so long.

He was in great spirits Thursday, a sharp contrast to the initial days after the concussion where the simplest tasks became herculean.

“The first week-and-a-half was tough sleeping-wise, just weird symptoms you don’t even realize,” McDermott said. “Just being in cars, going to my appointments was tough at times, some headaches throughout the week. But with a concussion you just have to be true to yourself and true to the doctors. You don’t want to lie about things because it can only make things worse. I’m finally to the point where I’m feeling better.”

McDermott said going to physical therapy or riding on the freeway would trigger vertigo in the first week, but luckily for him, it didn’t last much longer after that. The first concussion of his career took him to different place mentally, and he leaned on Celtics big man Al Horford during that time of confusion and frustration.

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Horford missed a number of games with a concussion he suffered early in the season.

“Talked to him for about 30 minutes,” McDermott said. “He was in the middle of his and I had my second one. We talked about our symptoms and he really took his time and you see his game has been really good since he came back.”

“We're really the only two guys who've had it this year. People don't really understand, it's a tough deal. Basketball can be physical. You see it a lot in football. You gotta be true to yourself, true to your doctors because you don't wanna mess around.”

With the second concussion taking place 13 days after the first, McDermott and the Bulls had to be a lot more careful the next time around. Having one is scary enough but the fall he took in the United Center probably ignited a fear in him that he didn’t know existed.

“Yeah, you have to just listen to your symptoms, but I think with the second one in such a short period of time they wanted to be cautious too, and I did too,” McDermott said. “It’s not like an ankle sprain or a knee deal where you can play through things like that. It’s your brain, so you want to be as sharp as possible.”

The Bulls need any type of reinforcement they can get, especially for the struggling bench. McDermott feels like he can add some confidence or at least put other guys in a more natural order, although that remains to be seen as Nikola Mirotic and Isaiah Canaan have really struggled in his absence — all season, it seems.

“I think we'll get our swagger back too. We've had some injuries,” McDermott said. “Once we get myself and Michael (Carter-Williams) back, we've been rotating guys that aren't used to playing with each other. Once we get some continuity there with that group, things will get better. Adding a shooter like me, it'll take pressure off Niko, take pressure off Isaiah to hit shots. Just having 3 floor spacers out there will really help all of us.”

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.

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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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