Bulls hope to end road trip on a high note

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Bulls hope to end road trip on a high note

Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011
10:33 a.m.
Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls are looking to end their five-game road trip with a winning record as Derrick Rose goes up against another one of the league's premier point guards.

Rose and the Bulls look to win their fifth straight over fellow All-Star Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.

Chicago (35-16) remains in the hunt for the Eastern Conference's best record. The Bulls enter Saturday three games behind Miami and 2 12 behind Boston as they close a five-game road trip against teams from the West.

After consecutive losses to Golden State and Portland, Chicago defeated Utah 91-86 on Wednesday to even its record on the trip at 2-2. Rose finished with 29 points and seven assists, and came up with a big steal with 1:05 remaining as he outplayed Deron Williams, who had five turnovers.

"He's been playing like that the whole season," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said of Rose, averaging 27.8 points on the road trip. "It's why we keep chanting his name for MVP because he's been phenomenal all year."

After dominating Williams, Rose will face another tough matchup in Paul and the Hornets (33-22).

Rose's Bulls have won all three of his previous matchups against Paul, including a 108-106 overtime victory at New Orleans on Jan. 29, 2010, the teams' last meeting. Rose had 18 points, including two key free throws, in the win while Paul had 18 points and 12 assists for the Hornets.

The Bulls will try to keep up the defensive intensity against the Hornets after stifling the Jazz. Chicago is holding opponents to an average of 88.1 points over its last 11 games.

The Hornets are looking for a second straight win after snapping their four-game losing streak Friday with a 99-93 victory at Orlando.

"This was very needed," said Paul, who had 15 points and seven assists. "After four losses in a row sometimes you forget what it's like to win. When we came out of that last timeout midway through the fourth quarter, I told the fellas: 'Let's win it. We've had enough close ones. Let's take this game.' And we did that."

Paul bounced back after being held to nine points in a 103-101 overtime loss to New Jersey on Wednesday. Putting a damper on his Friday, the league announced it was fining Paul 15,000 for verbal abuse of a game official following to defeat against the Nets.

The Hornets have lost their last two home games after winning 20 of their first 25 at New Orleans Arena. The Bulls have won their last two visits.

New Orleans has struggled in back-to-back scenarios, going 5-7 when playing for the second consecutive night.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

The earrings were gleaming from Jimmy Butler’s ears, as he was his usual-disarming self with a playful smile and wink during his question-and-answer session with the Chicago media.

At a point, he took a deep breath as he looked around the Advocate Center with some of his new teammates walking around, some of whom had to carry nameplates because they weren’t recognizable faces in this new setting.

And because new faces are in town, it means two things: some faces left town and for Butler’s sake, the new ones will only know him as “Jimmy Butler, All-Star”, not the guy who was a late first-round pick, not the player who couldn’t get off the bench.

Butler didn’t bring up his comfort level, but when asked, he didn’t deny things appear to be a bit easier this time around.

“Does it make me feel more comfortable? I mean, to an extent, yeah, because then you can never say how you may have think that I’ve changed,” Butler said.

Butler’s ascension rubbed some the wrong way last season, and it’s been spoken about ad nauseam, whether it was true or not. But the moment of honesty wasn’t so much a shot at Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah, who departed for the Knicks in various forms; however it was an admission to his level of security, one that perhaps can lead to a more peaceful existence with all the core pieces.

The one way he’s always lead and will always speak to, is by example and work ethic. It’s one that turned him into an All-Star and Olympian.

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“I think everybody that’s on this roster now just knows how hard that I’ve worked to get to this spot that I’m at,” Butler said. “They’ve seen it. They’ve witnessed it. All they’ve been around for me is this point of my career. I don’t know if it sounds bad. But I think that all these guys look at, ‘If Jimmy works like that and if I work like that, I’ll be in the same position that he’s in.’ I’ll be more than happy to let you have that position because I think hard work can get you anywhere that you want to get to.”

So with that, Butler volunteered himself to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, to be the sacrificial lamb of wrath if need be. Easy to say if he doesn’t actually believe Hoiberg is capable of going from nice guy to madman at a moment’s notice but Butler laid it out for the record.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”

The additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo add championship receipts to a locker room that needs it, considering the Bulls want to play their young pieces. Wade and Rondo, the Bulls privately believe, will help Butler deal with everything that comes with a new role of leadership — and by proxy, Butler’s relationship and expectations of Hoiberg.

“He was put in a position last year he wasn't familiar with and I think we'll see growth from it,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “The great thing about Jimmy is you know he comes in each and every day and gives 100 percent. He gets better every year and I think we'll continue to see that growth in his game and him as a person. I think that experience with USA basketball was real positive for him.”

Whether the trio lives up to the “Three Alphas” nickname remains to be seen, but after having a locker room with too many low-pitched voices, perhaps the change in pace — any change in pace — will be a welcome one for Butler.

“The Alpha thing, I think we’ll be just fine. Everybody is going to have something to say,” he said. “As long as everybody is listening and is willing to take some criticism if you’re doing something wrong, just like if you’re doing something right I’m going to tell you, there’s good and bad in everything you do. At the end of the day, as long as we win games, it won’t matter.”

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

 

Much was made of the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg dynamic last year.

As the duo head into Year 2 together with a very different Bulls roster, Jimmy Butler was very clear about one thing he wants out of his coach this season.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example,’” Butler said during the team’s media day on Monday. “I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing because if Doug (McDermott) or Tony (Snell) or whoever it may be, if watching coach talk to me like that he’s going to be like ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ So that’s what I try to remind him everyday. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else, but I want that. I need that.”

Butler’s show of confidence in his coach didn’t stop at his belief that Hoiberg could follow through on Butler’s desire to be coached hard. The All-Star believes Hoiberg has improved as a coach heading into his second year on the job.

“It was his first year last year and I think he studied himself and us and the way we were up and down in so many areas of the game last year,” Butler said. “He’s trying to correct it. That’s just like anybody going into the offseason. He didn’t just not work. He studied and got better at what he needed to get better at. I think he’s ready moving forward.”