Hinrich, Noah game-time decisions tonight in Orlando

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Hinrich, Noah game-time decisions tonight in Orlando

ORLANDOFor their two-game road trip to Florida, the Bulls have four point guards traveling with the team.
One is Derrick Rose, who obviously wont be suiting up. Another is rookie Marquis Teague, whose playing time likely depends on that status of starter Kirk Hinrich, who missed the disappointing New Years Eve loss to the woeful Bobcats, which snapped an 18-game losing streak for Charlotte, with what Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau called a compilation of things, but more specifically is centered around the veterans ailing left knee.
If Hinrich doesnt play, next in the pecking order is backup point guard Nate Robinson, whose contract was guaranteed for the remainder of the season Tuesday, ensuring that 2013 started off on a high note for the diminutive scorer. But Hinrich participated in Wednesday mornings shootaround at the Amway Center and if no complications arise, he expects to play against the Magic in the evening.
Im feeling better, so Im going to go out here and participate in shootaround, and go from there, Hinrich said, adding that he didnt think his minutes would be curtailed due to the nagging injury, which troubled him earlier in the campaign, causing him to miss games against Philadelphia and Brooklyn last month. I think it just depends on how I feel, my comfort level and all that.
Thibodeau chimed in: Kirk, I think, is fine. Well see after the shootaround.
While Hinrich doesnt put up gaudy statistics, it was clear Monday that the Bulls missed his ability to run the offense, be a pesky defender and put his teammates in the right positions, as well as his quiet leadership. While the 19-year-old Teague has potential, hes inexperienced and it appears that Thibodeau is reluctant to trust the offense in his hands, while Robinson, who is a dynamic scorer, is best suited as an energy player off the bench and a change-of-pace option when the Bulls need offensive production, as traditional playmaking has never been his strong suit.
When you look at his plus-minus and how the team functions when hes on the floor, its both offense and defense, Thibodeau explained. Offensively, we play well and defensively, we play well and thats what a point guard has to do, is run the team. Hes played well all season and I think he understands how to run a team and when you look at shot distribution when hes on the floor, the right guys are getting the right shots. Thats a big part of it.
Joakim Noah and Vladimir Radmanovic are also game-time decisions, due to flu-like symptoms, which severely impacted Noah in Mondays defeat.
Jo is still not feeling well, so well see tonight, Thibodeau said.Radmanovic is not feeling well, so those two guys will be game-time decisions.
As for Rose, the former league MVP wasnt made available to the media, but Thibodeau discussed the point guards recent progress, which was first reported by CSNChicago.com after Saturdays home win over Washington.
Hes been around the whole time. You guys dont see him as much as the team does and so, I dont think its that big of a deal. Its the next step in the progression for him. Hes getting up to speed with everything offensively, defensively, his teammates, so its just the next step and hes got to continue to do the things that hes been doing, and the team has to continue to focus on our improvement and our opponent, and then at some point, hell be ready to go. But he still has some time to go. Everyone has to be patient, but its good to have him around, Thibodeau explained. Hes already been in practice and they see him doing his rehab, so that part, it is what it is. Hes still not out on the court and thatll be eventually what we have to do. Hell be part of the group. But right now, everything is good. Our team has to keep working, just focus on the improvement. Derrick has to focus on what he needs to focus on and at some point, hell rejoin the group.
Its when hes ready, so thats not anything that has changed from the start of the season. Its when hes ready. Its not going to be sooner, later, this is the target date. Its just when hes ready, so hes doing practice, the predictable contact in practice. The next step will be regular practice. Then, he has to be able to go through regular practice for a while and then, if everything goes well, then he plays. But theres no time schedule. So, its everything according to plan. Its just the next step. Theres several steps that he has to go through. Theres several more that he has to go through, so everythings going well. Nothing has changed.
Thibodeau is more preoccupied with his struggling team performing well Wednesday night against the overachieving Magic. Under first-year head coach Jacque Vaughn, unheralded Orlando has been competitive something the Bulls know firsthand from their narrow victory at the United Center in November and although theyve been plagued by injuries as of late, the Magic took the defending-champion Heat to overtime New Years Day.
When you look at their personneltheyre down Jameer Nelson and ETwaun Moore the last couple games, but they have good personnel. When you look at Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu, those guys have been around and theyve performed well. Glen Davis has gotten hurt for them, but I had Davis in Boston; I know how good he is, Thibodeau said.
The core of their team is very, very good and theyve added some young guys who are very good. Andrew Nicholson is a terrific player, Nikola Vucevic is playing great basketball right now, so the challenge for us is to be ready. But theyre a very talented team, they play hard, they share the ball, theyre skilled, so we have to be ready. Vucevic, 29 rebounds in the last game, so were concerned about that and youre right, they played Miami great. Turkoglu is just coming back right now. Hes been a very talented player, hes got great size and decision-making ability, so they can run their offense through him and were concerned."
He went on to praise Vaughn, saying, I think hes well-prepared, hes got a very good staff, hes got them playing hard, playing together. Very impressive.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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