Improved Bulls' shooting, Cook's initial impression, other notes

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Improved Bulls' shooting, Cook's initial impression, other notes

-- Nobody would confuse the Bulls for one of the more proficient three-point shooting teams in the league, but after a rough start from long distance to begin the season, the team is becoming more competent from deep.
Theres no Kyle Korver on the roster, but reserve shooting guard Marco Belinelli, after gaining confidence during the month of December as fill-in starter for then-injured Rip Hamilton, has emerged as the teams most reliable outside marksman. Luol Deng, a much-improved deep threat in recent years, is also finding his groove, while backup point guard Nate Robinson is streaky, yet dangerous, from behind the three-point arc. Veteran backcourt starters Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton cant be ignored, either.
We were 30th in the league for a while. Weve steadily moved up throughout the course of the season. I think the threes that were taking right now are a lot better than the ones we were taking earlier in the year, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Wednesday mornings shootaround at the Berto Center, before getting into the reasons why. Just rhythm, off-ball movement, off the swing, off the ball in the paint. I think when guys make the extra pass, thats usually when you get the high-percentage three.
Well, the game tells you how many threes you should take. I dont want to be an outside-in team. I want to take the right threes. A lot of your three-point shots come off double team, the coach continued.
You dont always have to take the three. What it does lead to is long close-outs or open shots and you want to get a balance of three, the drive, get to the free-throw line, but the ball in the paint is what wins in this leagueI think were a decent-shooting team. Our free-throw shooting has been excellent all year and now, the threes are coming around. When you look at what Hinrich has shot career-wise, you know that hes a good three-point shooter. Lu started off a little slowly, but now, his threes are going down. Marcos shooting the three great, Nates shooting the three great, so weve got some guys who can knock it down.

-- The Bulls newest addition, shooting guard Daequan Cook, isnt likely to play extensive minutes in the near future, but Thibodeau still likes what he sees in practice.
Its been a very short amount of time, but I like what Ive seen so far and weve liked him for a while, and so, his shooting is something that we need and I think he could help us down the road, the coach said. He just has to come in and learn right now, and you never know when the opportunity comes, so I like knowing that hes there. It gives you quality depth. I think he complements Carlos and Luol extremely well, and thats what youre doing. Youre always trying to build your team around your primary scorers and look at what they can add to the team."

However, it wouldnt be surprising if the 25-year-old is in the same boat veteran swingman Rasual Butler was in as a midseason acquisition two seasons ago, as the rotation is already set and Thibodeau is notorious for sticking with what he knows. Still, with his youth, the 2009 NBA All-Star weekend three-point shootout winner could be auditioning for the future.

-- Thibodeau is obviously familiar with Bostons Kevin Garnett and although the future Hall of Famer has rubbed several opposing players the wrong way with his constant barrage of trash talk on the court, dont count the Bulls head coach as among his detractors.
Garnett was again in the headlines following getting tangled up with Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony on the court during the Celtics win Monday evening in New York. Anthony not only suffered through a miserable 6-for-26 shooting night, but he lost his cool both onthe two All-Stars were assessed double technical foulsand off the court, as reports surfaced of Anthony going to the visiting locker room to confront Garnett afterwards, then continuing the dispute all the way to Bostons team bus, something confirmed by video.

I havent seen it, so I dont really want to comment on that, other than my experience with Kevin was spectacular. He drives the team. Hes one of the those guys that, if youre if an opponent, you probably dont like him, but if hes on your side, you love him. He led that team to a championship and so, I have great respect for him, Thibodeau said. Carmelos a fierce competitor, too. Thats the one thing I respect about both of those guys. You put fierce competitors in a game together, theyre going to go at each other. Thats what they do. Thats what competitors do.

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

For the opening three quarters in Atlanta, the Bulls were off. 

So off, in fact, that Dwyane Wade tweeted an apology to Chicago fans after the game. 

Thanks to a furious run by the Bulls' bench, the final score ended at a respectable 102-93. In reality, though, the Hawks dominated. 

Wade and company trailed by 29 points at half and 30 at the end of three. The 35-year-old shooting guard finished with a minus-18 and just four points while All-Star starter Jimmy Butler posted a team-low minus-22.

The Bulls will look to shake off their lopsided loss against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. 

 

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23 in a game they trailed by as many as 34 points.

The practices have apparently been the sterling jewel of effort and competitiveness for the Bulls but it hasn't carried over through the season as the inconsistency continues to be maddening — one that seems to go beyond the "growing pains" mantra that's been fed by all involved so far this year.

"It could be things but I don't want to share it with the media," a sunglasses-clad Dwyane Wade said outside the locker room, in a rare mood of not being elaborative following a loss.

It appears even the professional's professional has gotten a bit more frustrated than usual — understandable considering the way the starters came out with a lack of energy, with more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) in the first quarter.

"Continue to try to lead behind the scenes," Wade said. "Can't stop when it's bad, when it's good. You gotta be the same."

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scoring 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

[MORE BULLS: Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation]

Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

"I have been, we have been, tired of this. I gotta come out better," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 19 points in 29 minutes. "I gotta play better from the jump, 48 minutes. That's not the way we're supposed to play. 

"The way we practice is not the way we play in the game. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Starting with me and going down the line, we gotta be better as a whole. Otherwise we'll keep getting our asses beat and it's bad."

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

"We're gonna look at everything and we'll see how we go out and start tomorrow and a couple days after that, hopefully we figure some things out," Hoiberg said. "They shot over 70 percent in the first quarter and you dig yourselves a hole and it's impossible to get out."

Hoiberg said he would evaluate everything leading into Saturday's game at home against the Sacramento Kings, but Friday didn't seem to present any realistic lineup changes based on performance.

Bobby Portis scored 10 with seven rebounds off the bench, with Jerian Grant scoring 12 and Paul Zipser 10. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined to shoot two for nine, so one wonders where Hoiberg can go.

"I don't know. Practice is good. Practice is great," Butler said. "Practice is not gonna win you games. We gotta take what we do in practice and take it over to the game."

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

"I don't know, I can't put a word on it. Because it's just talk," Butler said. "Doesn't matter what you say, if we don't go out there and do it, what the hell is talking gonna do? We've been up and down all year. If we don't guard and turn the ball over, games get out of hand very quickly."

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against Sacramento and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can't simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.