In the post: Healthy Bulls display great depth

In the post: Healthy Bulls display great depth

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010
12:20 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Kyle Korver, in his return to the lineup after dealing with a cyst in his left ankle, didnt have the most prolific scoring night, but had a solid all-around performance.

My legs felt good, my ankle felt good. I didnt have rhythm on my shot. I just kind of rushed my shot a little bit probably. It felt good to play basketball today again. Its been four or five days since Ive really played, so it was good, Korver told CSNChicago.com. Its everything. Shooting is legs and confidence. Your actual shot theres a whole bunch of great shooters that have got nasty form; you see all kinds of great shooters that you dont know what hand theyre shooting with half the time but your legs and your confidence, thats all of shooting and thats a huge thing and I know. The next few days, try to get some rhythm back.

Korver is a big believer in the Bulls second unit, feeling that aspect of the team is underrated. Oh, I think the bench is great. Once we get healthy, it will be even better. We have a lot of guys that can play. Omer Asik has really come along. Hes been a huge surprise for us. I dont think anyone thought hed be this good, this fast. When Booz comes back, Taj goes to the second lineup, too. Were going to be all right, Korver told CSNChicago.com. I dont think we lose anything when the second team comes in. Weve got a lot of guys that play hard, some veterans that know how to play and I think its going to be one of our strengths this year.

--James Johnson, an efficient double-figure scorer for the second straight game, told CSNChicago.com hes starting to find his niche with this years team after an up-and-down rookie campaign.

I felt comfortable. I practice with them every dayweve just been going as hard as we can, weve got good chemistry with each other, they dont mind me taking the shots and I dont mind taking the shots. Were out there playing as hard as we can, said Johnson. I want to be as physical as possible, but I just want to help the team, no matter what it is that I need to do. If I need to get physical, Ill get physical, but if I need to go get buckets, then thats what I have to do. But other than that, Im just doing me."

Johnson added a little bit of trash talk, saying the Bulls second unit is the team that beats first team most of the time, then asking fellow reserve Brian Scalabrine to confirm: Man, whos telling these stories? Scal, who wins first team or second team? See? Its a known fact. Thats okay. We know what happens. Just come to practice, man.

As for his coach, Thibodeau was pleased with the performance of Johnson, something that may have complicated his desire to figure out a set rotation to begin the regular season next week. I thought Johnson played very well, I thought all-around defensively he was very good, I thought he made quick decisions that were solid, said Thibodeau. I thought the team functioned well I thought a lot of guys played well but the rotation thing, thatll be something well study some more. Were not quite ready to make a decision on that and once we are, well talk to the players first.

--Ronnie Brewer is finally beginning to regain his mobility after suffering a pulled hamstring in training camp and his timing, showing he can be a playmaker on a Bulls team with only two true two point guards (Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson) on the roster.

These last two games, Ive been able to move a lot better. My shots still not where I want it to be. My legs trying to catch up to my body, but my hamstrings not really restricting me anymore and Im able to make cuts, slide and run the floor like Im supposed to do, Brewer told CSNChicago.com. I made a turnover today making a late decision trying to get him C.J. Watson the ball in the corner, but I feel comfortable handling the basketball, coming off pick-and-rolls if I get a rebound, pushing it up the court so I feel like if Im out on the court with D. Rose, if Im out on the court with C.J., Im comfortable with handling the ball and making plays for other people.

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Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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