Bulls hope to regain swagger against Rockets

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Bulls hope to regain swagger against Rockets

HOUSTONA dominant defense. A nightly advantage on the glass.

A bench that not only maintained, but extended leads on a consistent basisor, in the case that the starters were behind, often took control of the game. Chemistry that led to teammates recognizing the hot hand and when they didnt have it going themselves, making timely plays that didnt involve scoring.

The aforementioned traits were all hallmarks of the Bulls the last two seasons and while they may eventually reappear, in the present, theyre largely absent. It goes without saying that in sidelined superstar Derrick Roses absence, the squad doesnt have that one, dynamic, game-changing equalizer to rescue them, but that didnt stop past editions of the Bulls from being successful in their blue-collar, hard-nosed fashion.

The departure of the Bench Mob has been perhaps overly discussed, but while the reputations of their individual abilities is now more myth than factit must be remembered that upon Tom Thibodeaus arrival over two years ago, the Bulls bench wasnt exactly mythologized and to be honest, the group was regarded as a bit flawed and underwhelming before they hit their stridethe spirit of the departed reserves, including holdover Taj Gibson, is what made them special. But throughout the young campaign, that nightly passion, determination and most significantly, defensive focus, have dwindled.

Its more the process. I want us doing the right things and so, every game, you evaluate the things that you think are necessary to win and for us, its always the same. Its the defense, the rebounding, the inside-out, the low turnovers, the sharing the ball, Thibodeau explained before the teams Tuesday afternoon practice at the Toyota Center, where his team will take on the Rockets, one of his many former employers, Wednesday evening.

When you evaluate are you doing things correctly, you can sometimes do things correctly and they opponents can make shots. The problem is, when youre not doing things correctly, to understand the difference and make the necessary corrections, so you can improve and right now, theyre a number of things were doing, and some things were doing well.

We started off the season not challenging shots as well as I would like. I think were covering the three-point line better, but our turnovers, putting opponents into the open floor has hurt us, particularly on the road, so thats something that we have to change, and then we have to play for 48 minutes. Right now, theres some good sequences, some bad sequences, but we have to be more consistent, continued the coach, who noted that well see how it unfolds, when asked specifically if there would be changes to his rotation.

The second quarter has been an area we have to clean up. Offensively, were starting the games strongly. Were inside-out, were shooting a good percentage, were scoring. But the tone of the game is not a defensive tone and then in the second quarter, were being hurt in a lot of different areas, mainly the turnovers. So, thats something that we have to get corrected and then, were in a hole and we usually make a run to come back, but thats difficult to overcome, particularly on the road, when youre fighting a double-digit deficit.

Against the Rockets, a similarly spiraling team and losers of three consecutive outings after a fast start to the season, the Bulls will look to bounce back before returning to the Midwestthey will fly back to Chicago after Wednesdays game, then play Saturday in Milwaukee to conclude their annual Circus Trippreferably with a record over the .500 mark. It wont necessarily easy, however, as reeling Houston does possess talent, as Jeremy Lin, last seasons phenom, combines with early-season blockbuster acquisition James Harden for an explosive backcourt, and former Bulls backup Omer Asik anchors one of the NBAs youngest team in the middle.

Harden is a great player, so he keeps a lot of pressure on you. Its his ability to shoot, his ability to put it on the floor and then, of course, his ability to draw fouls. Then, you combine him with Lin in the backcourt, very dynamic and then, they run the floor extremely well. They play with energy, they shoot a lot of threes, Thibodeau said. Chandler Parsons is one of the most underrated players in the league. Hes really coming on strongly and so is Patrick Patterson.

We know that defensive transition and covering the line will be critical.

So will getting back their old swagger.

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brett Lawrie isn't sore, he's just not yet correctly aligned.

Until that happens, the White Sox second baseman doesn't want to risk playing at full speed, which for him is nearly the equivalent of hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon.

Lawrie said Sunday he has been pleased with the progress made in returning from a series of leg injuries that wiped out the final 2 1/2 months of last season. But he also isn't quite ready and doesn't want to risk re-injuring himself until he feels total confidence.

"I've been very happy and I haven't really gone backwards and that's been key for me," Lawrie said. "I guess the biggest thing is being able to trust myself when I get out on the field and not have to worry about my body and just worry about the game. If I can't do that then I'm not going to go out there and do that. S once I can clear that stuff up, and it's in the near future.

"I just need to keep being positive and keep putting the work in every single day and I'll be OK."

Lawrie and Rick Renteria said the veteran has been his normal hyper since he reported to camp eight days ago. He'd been a full participant leading up to Saturday when he told Renteria he still didn't feel completely right. But Lawrie said he's just working out the "end kinks" to a trying period. Even though he's had a few tough days of late, Lawrie is trying to stay upbeat and power through.

"It's nothing that's grabbing at me or anything like that," Lawrie said. "I think it's just how everything is sitting and needs to be aligned, that's all.

"Not completely where I want to be and I want to be right where I want to be in order to get out on the field. This last part has just been tough but I'm just continuing to push through and I want to be out on the field and be 100 percent and just have to worry about baseball and not have to worry about this. Before I get out there I just want to make sure that everything is cleared up."

Dwyane Wade's near-miss of a triple-double caused by friendly Felicio fire

Dwyane Wade's near-miss of a triple-double caused by friendly Felicio fire

In a season where the triple-double has become commonplace to the point of stat chasing in the effort to chase history, Dwyane Wade didn't mind snatching his own piece of turf.

In a game where teammate Jimmy Butler reached the feat for the first time this season, it would've been doubly satisfactory for Wade to achieve the fifth triple-double of his career.

One rebound away in the final seconds of the Bulls' 117-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the memo didn't reach Cristiano Felicio, who reached over Wade to grab a rebound, causing it to harmlessly fall out of bounds and ending Wade's chance at history.

After Wade finished with 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in 34 minutes, he was asked if he "hated" Felicio for interrupting his moment.

"No hate. Just a strong dislike, though," said Wade with a wry smile. "You know how long it's been since I had a triple double? It's been a long time."

It's been six years, as his last triple-double came in the 2010-11 season with the Miami Heat, achieving the feat with a 22-point, 12-rebound and 10-assist performance against the then-Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 4, 2011.

Even more than the statistical feat was Wade's variety, as he grabbed seven rebounds in the decisive third-quarter run that broke the game open, hitting Butler and Bobby Portis for long touchdown passes that would've had Jay Cutler or whichever quarterback the Cleveland Browns are banking on next fall, blushing.

Perhaps even more impressive was the fact it was on the second night of a back-to-back with the Bulls winning in overtime against the Phoenix Suns—a game where Wade turned it up late then threw it down over Alex Len in overtime.

"I think we just found our groove," Wade said. "We've had some injuries that have gone on but we're playing good basketball."

More pointedly, so is Wade, aided by him often finding Felicio for easy dunks on the pick and roll as they play second and fourth quarters together. 

Felicio was clearly bothered by his gaffe, which was made worse by the take-no-prisoners approach from Wade and Butler. When a member of foreign media approached him about an interview, Felicio said "you're not asking me about that last rebound, are you?"

Later in the evening, Felicio went to Twitter, posting "I did not know!!" in reference to Wade's night.

"I told him I didn't not even gonna act like I ain't mad at him. I'm very mad at him," said Wade with a laugh. "But he's all good. He said he didn't see me down there. So he took a shot at my height. It's cool. Jimmy had one. It would've been nice to have two triple doubles."

"I'm sure a stat would've came out that would've said, ‘Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are the first duo to get a triple-double on a back-to-back since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen', since they got every record around here."

He was close, although Jordan and Pippen didn't achieve their feat on a back-to-back but a random night in the 1988-89 season. Jordan scored 41 with 11 assists and 10 rebounds and Pippen had 15 with 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a 126-121 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We laugh about that often, but it's all good," Wade said. "I gotta work harder till I get another one one day."