Sam: Del Negro Disputes he was Aggressor

Sam: Del Negro Disputes he was Aggressor

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
6:30 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Prior to tonights season finale against the Bobcats, Bulls head coach spoke about yesterdays revelations regarding an alleged physical altercation with team executive vice president John Paxson in Del Negros United Center office after the teams win over Phoenix on March 30th in Chicago.

All those things will handle themselves at the end of the year, said Del Negro.

Del Negro was also asked about todays ESPN report that cited a source who alleged he was the aggressor in the incident, contrary to the original Yahoo! version of the situation.

Thats inaccurate. Thats 100 percent false, said Del Negro. This thing is funny just because you have guys that care, guys that are competitive and its unfortunate that it had to come out.

The most important thing is to focus on the game tonight, the playersthe effort that theyre putting in and all those things will take care of themselves at the end of the season, he continued. Hopefully thats not for a while.

When asked about the allegation in the ESPN report that he was also involved in a similar altercation with Bulls general manager Gar Forman, Del Negro told CSNChicago.com, All that stuff is internal. It will be dealt with at the end of the season. Right now, the focus is the team and the game and working through that.

Forman, who is in attendance at tonights game in Charlotte, declined comment to CSNChicago.com, but did a release a statement to the media.

The Chicago Bulls are focusing all of our energies into the remainder of this season and, as such, were disappointed at the recent stories that may have distracted from that.

Reports of a recent internal disagreement between a Bulls executive and the Bulls head coach were the result of each expressing their passion about the health and well being of their players and the desire to win basketball games, read Formans statement, in part. The event occurred in Coach Del Negro's office, not in the locker room and not in front of the players, as some wrongly have reported. This disagreement, while not communicated well by either party in the heat of the moment and in the immediate aftermath of a tough loss, was a result of conflicting views, but all based on the fine balance required to ensure both the immediate and long-term success of the team and the health of its players.

The Bulls have a full and complete understanding of what took place, but, as requested by all parties, will address the attendant issues with the participants after the season is over. At this point, everyone intends to keep focused on the remaining games.

Regarding tonights game, Del Negro doesnt expect his players to have any letdown, whether from playing on consecutive nights or the distraction of the teams ongoing saga.

Guys are going to be a little fatigued so our bench is going to have to give us some minutes and play well for us, said Del Negro. The players have done an unbelievable job in terms of their focus.

Their effort last night was fantastic and were going to need a very similar effort tonight, he continued. I dont care whos playing or whatever, youre going to have to play well here to win.

We have to try to find a way to get our energy up and our emotions up, but the guys have done a good job of that lately.

Bobcats head coach is expected to play his regulars tonight, although the Bobcats dont have a chance to rise or fall higher or lower than their predetermined seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Thats up to Larry. He knows his team better than anybody, said Del Negro. I think it really all depends on your situation. There have been cases where guys have played and didnt need to play and got hurt and missed the playoffs.

Fans are coming to watch the players so you want to perform well all the time, but I think you also need to be smart about it.

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.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

update-121.jpg
AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Sunday on CSN: UIC travels to Valparaiso

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Road Ahead: Blackhawks play three home games before All-Star break

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

Phillips DT Chris Elmore commits to Syracuse

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."