Bulls benefit from Thibodeau's past lockout experience

601574.png

Bulls benefit from Thibodeau's past lockout experience

After the NBAs last work stoppage, the New York Knicks made a Cinderella run of sorts, sneaking into the playoffs as an eighth seed, then advancing all the way to the finals, despite not having the services of All-Star center Patrick Ewing, before losing to the San Antonio Spurs. That Knicks team, the last New York squad to make it to the championship round, was celebrated for its heart, embodied by fearless players like Latrell Sprewell and Marcus Camby.

The head coach of that team was also beloved by its fans and while Jeff Van Gundy never got back to the Finals though he had some successful seasons in Houston, where injuries to stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady frequently derailed the Rockets playoff aspirations based largely on the Knicks run, his profile was greatly enhanced, something thats carried over to career as a broadcaster. One of Van Gundys assistant coaches in New York during that 50-game 1998-99 NBA campaign and subsequent playoff run (as well as in Houston) was currently Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Thibodeaus Bulls are constituted differently than that Knicks team and the circumstances, not to mention expectations, of this season also differ, as the league mandated a 66-game abbreviated schedule. Still, Thibodeau admitted that he does occasionally draw upon his experiences.

Hopefully you learn from all your experiences. Not just that season, but every season after that. How you pace your team, I think, as a head coach, is critical. You map it out. Once the schedule comes, you see where your schedules heavy and you have to plan accordingly, he said after Wednesdays morning shootaround at the Berto Center. You still have to get things done, youve got to be ready to play and theres different stretches, where youll have the opportunity to practice more, and you want to take advantage of that. Then, you have to evaluate whether rest is more important than practice. Theres a lot of things that factor into it. You never want to stay the same. You always want to try to get better, so I hope Im learning something every day.

While Thibodeau isnt one to make excuses whether now or in the past he noted how the Knicks injuries woes hamstrung the team, though he didnt mention Ewing specifically, but also cited that, in his opinion, the current scenario leaves less time for preparation.

I felt like we had more time during that lockout and my experience that year was we had a couple injuries early on, and then we had to, I believe, win eight or nine out of 10, just to get the eighth seed. Thats what it is, but you have to learn to navigate around all that stuff. Some years, youre healthier than others, said Thibodeau before realizing he was perhaps being too candid and reverting back to his usual name, rank and serial number mode that is used for the media. But like I said before, we have a deep roster, we have 14 players that we feel can all play and I think theyre all ready. When they get the opportunity, we expect them to play well. I think the way that they prepare each and every day I get an opportunity to watch them practice and see them concentrate so Im not surprised and Ive said this all along: I believe that we have more than enough to win with.

Bulls center Robin Lopez slapped with one-game suspension after fight

Bulls center Robin Lopez slapped with one-game suspension after fight

Robin Lopez will not be suiting up for the Bulls Wednesday night.

The center was slapped with a one-game suspension from the NBA just hours before tipoff after getting into a fight with Serge Ibaka in the Bulls' loss to the Toronto Raptors Tuesday evening.

The two threw punches at each other during a dead ball toward the end of the third quarter.

Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire was fined $15,000 for pushing Bulls forward Niko Mirotic in the scuffle.

Bulls collapse in Toronto, fall in overtime to Raptors

Bulls collapse in Toronto, fall in overtime to Raptors

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors fought and scrapped their way to their first victory over the Chicago Bulls in years.

DeMar DeRozan led the way.

DeRozan had 42 points, and the Raptors snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Bulls by rallying for a wild 122-120 overtime win on Tuesday night.

"You don't want to have something lingering like that and go a couple of seasons where you can't beat a team," DeRozan said. "When you're a competitor, just to have that in the back of your mind, it sucks."

DeRozan set a franchise record with 38 shot attempts, making 17, and also finished with eight assists. Cory Joseph had 19 points for the Raptors, and Serge Ibaka scored 16 before he was ejected for his role in a memorable fight with Robin Lopez during the third quarter.

Jimmy Butler had 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Bulls, and Rajon Rondo scored a season-high 24. It was Chicago's first loss to Toronto since Dec. 31, 2013.

Following a Butler 3-pointer with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter, giving Chicago a 16-point lead, Lopez swatted the ball out of the hand of Ibaka. The two squared up in the middle of a crowd and Lopez swung and missed Ibaka, who returned in kind, barely connecting with the head of the center.

Lopez and Ibaka were ejected following a long review period. Chicago forward Nikola Mirotic and Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire received offsetting technical fouls after getting into a shoving match following the melee.

With Lopez throwing the first punch, Ibaka said he was simply trying to defend himself.

"I'm not just going to be out there and watch a man like him punch me and walk away," he said after his fourth career ejection.

Lopez was ejected for the sixth time in his career. He said he expects to be suspended for the fight.

"I think it was a really physical game, physical game for everybody," he said. "Just kind of hit the flashpoint."

The Bulls opened a 109-94 lead on Paul Zipser's 3-pointer with 6:39 left in the fourth. But the Raptors responded with a 15-0 run, tying the game on Joseph's layup with 1:50 remaining.

"They were the aggressors on both sides of the floor, getting layups on one end and stops on the other," Butler said. "Hell, that's how we were playing for the majority of the game. Whenever you're playing like that, the game turns quickly."

Toronto grabbed the lead for the first time on a turnaround jumper from DeRozan with 1:23 to play in overtime.

Denzel Valentine missed a 3-point attempt on Chicago's next possession and Patrick Patterson had a tip-in layup to make it 119-115 Toronto with 44.7 seconds remaining.

The Raptors lead the NBA with 18 comeback victories after trailing by 10-or-more points.