Bulls Producing Wins Despite Constant Changes

Bulls Producing Wins Despite Constant Changes

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010
6:03 P.M.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLISPrior to tonights game against the Pacers, Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro updated the assembled media about Joakim Noahs plantar fasciitis treatment, as the teams starting center didnt make the trip to Indiana after playing 27 minutes in last nights overtime home win over Portland.

Everything went well, as planned, and now hes just got to hopefully have a good reaction to all the treatment hes having, said Del Negro, who suffered from the same injury during his own playing days. I dont know if theres been a perfect plan. I could have played him a little bit more against Indiana and Philadelphia, then let him rest a little bit because we needed him against Portland. I played him probably a few too many minutes against Portland, but he wasnt going to play in the back-to-back to kind of monitor it.

Hes going to be out for a couple days, for sure. Hell miss a few games here, which was kind of planned. Were just trying to figure out the best attack for this. Hes going to have some pain once in a while; hopefully we can minimize that with the treatments and all the different modalities that theyre doing, he continued. Its a very difficult injury to figure out. You can play five minutes and have pain, you can play 20 and have pain, you can play 30 and not have anything. Its got to be managed. I know hes feeling a little bit better today with the treatment he had, so hopefully thats a step in the right direction, but its going to be a little bit of time.

Del Negro also addressed Luol Dengs knee, expecting the small forward to play after complaining of soreness after last nights game. As far as the actual matchup tonight, Del Negro believes a focal point is defending Indianas three-point shooting attack and smaller lineups.

We have to have energy, get to the shooters, run them off the three and be efficient in our transition game, said Del Negro. Well try to utilize some of our size up front when we can.

Theres a fine line. Depending on what were doing, posting up and taking advantage of our size up front, compared to what theyre doing in transition. Really, foot speed is a factor, he continued. We just have to be smart about when to attack them inside and also match up with the speed of their personnel.

Del Negro continues to have high regard for newcomer Hakim Warrick, whose acquisition has proven even more valuable with Noahs injury issues.

Hes so athletic, hes long, he runs the court well. We can go to him a little bit in the post, but he has a good feel for the game, observed Del Negro. When youre that athletic, that long, you can do things around the basket and make it look easy.

Pacers head coach Jim OBrien, a Philadelphia native, also is aware of Warricks potential impact, as well as the Bulls addition of Flip Murray, another Philadelphian.

I think Flip Murray is a good pickup. Hes a scoring machine off the bench, said OBrien. Warrick is a very live body and with Noah having been out with the foot problem for an extended period of time and now that they traded Tyrus Thomas, its a good fill-in for them.

OBrien has also noticed the gradual improvement of the Bulls over the course of the season.

Theyre scoring a lot of points, it starts with that. In transition, we need to make sure if you shoot the basketballif youre not sprinting to the offensive glass, then youre sprinting back to half courtso Derrick Rose is not one-on-one in the open floor, said OBrien. Then, you have to get out and challenge Deng and Hinrich.

You have to make sure Brad Miller doesnt get off, he continued. Theyve got a lot weapons. Taj Gibson has had a remarkably strong year for a rookie. Theyre a tough team to handle.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

As the NBA evolves, Bulls' Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez experiment with 3-pointers

As the NBA evolves, Bulls' Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez experiment with 3-pointers

Taj Gibson began working on his 3-point shot as early as this past offseason. That work in the gym from beyond the arc continued into training camp, the preseason and eventually the regular season.

The eight-year veteran didn't attempt his first 3-pointer until the 21st game of the season, and that came in the final minute as the Bulls trailed by nine against the Pistons. Gibson's 27-foot heave from the left wing was off, and he proceeded to play the next 17 games without attempting another.

But recently Gibson had a conversation with head coach Fred Hoiberg, who knew the 31-year-old power forward had been putting in additional time to work on his corner 3-pointers. Hoiberg told Gibson he believed in his corner 3-pointer and that he'd allow the Bulls' forward to shoot them in games.

On Jan. 10, Gibson took a pass from Rajon Rondo midway through the first quarter and hoisted a 3-pointer from the left corner. He connected, marking just the second made 3-pointer of his career, and his first since the 2010-11 season.

Between triples Gibson, always a reliable midrange shooter, attempted and missed 22 3-pointers. But with the added practice time and confidence, and a blessing from his head coach, Gibson believes the 3-pointer can become an asset, going as far to say he’d like to shoot two triples per game.

There is, however, one aspect of the shot still standing in his way.

"When you get out there you never really realize how far it is until you're lined up and the crowd is like, 'Shoot it!'" Gibson said after Thursday's practice at the Advocate Center. "Your teammates are behind you, but it's fun. Hopefully (I) look forward to trying to make some in the future."

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Gibson attempted two more triples in Saturday's win over the Hornets and another in Sunday's win over the Grizzlies. All three were off-target, but just seeing Gibson step into the attempts and fire with confidence was a sight for sore eyes on a Bulls team lacking from outside.

Through the season's first half the Bulls rank last in both 3-point field goal percentage (31.7 percent) and 3-pointers made (6.4 per game). Their 276 total made 3-pointers as a team are less than two pairs of teammates (Houston’s Eric Gordon and James Harden, 301; Golden State’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, 283).

The Bulls' expected top 3-point shooters – Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Denzel Valentine – have combined to go 114-for-350, or 32.5 percent. Starters Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade haven’t fared much better, albeit on fewer attempts, while Chicago's trio of point guards have made 29 percent of their 144 3-point attempts. Simply put, there's ample opportunity to see what Gibson can do from deep without messing up the team's current perimeter shooting.

"It's something that he worked on a lot in the offseason. So yeah if he's open in the corner we want those shots," Hoiberg said. "It’s obviously a huge part of today's game. The 3-point shot, to have multiple players that can stretch the floor out there, those teams are really hard to guard."

Gibson's not the only Bulls big man experimenting. Robin Lopez said he, too, has been working on his outside shot in practice. Gibson joked that Hoiberg hasn't yet given Lopez permission to fire away from deep, while Hoiberg cracked that Lopez might be jealous of the 5.2 3-pointers his twin brother, Brook, is attempting this season in Brooklyn.

Lopez, like Gibson, has always had a dependable midrange shot. Per NBA.com, his 44.4 field goal percentage on midrange shots is fifth among centers this season.

"That’s something I've been working on more this season. I don't know if it's game-ready yet. That's more of a confidence issue," said Lopez, who added he's been working with assistant coach Pete Myers on the shot. "I think the way the NBA is going, I don't see why not. If Brook can do it, I definitely can."

Lopez is 0-for-5 from distance in his nine-year career, including 0-for-1 with the Bulls this season. But the defensive-minded center knows the ever-changing NBA game now includes teams wanting to get as many perimeter shooters on the floor at once. If he and/or Gibson can eventually be part of that, he knows the difference it could make.

"I think it's wonderful for the game. I think there's a real premium on skill at all positions on the court. I think that's going to continue. You're going to have more skilled and more talented big men," he said. "There's always a new breed of big men right around the corner."

Bulls Road Ahead: Trying to get back to .500 yet again

Bulls Road Ahead: Trying to get back to .500 yet again

Mark Schanowski and Mark Strotman break down what the Bulls need to do to get back on track on this edition of the Bulls Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

A stellar win over the Grizzlies on Sunday has all but been forgotten, as the Bulls lost to the Mavericks on Tuesday. Now back under .500 for the fourth time this season, the Bulls will have to regroup as they prepare for a back-to-back against the Hawks and Kings.

See what else they had to say in this week's Bulls Road Ahead.