Thibodeau named Coach of the Month for April

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Thibodeau named Coach of the Month for April

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Posted: 2:20 p.m. Updated: 6:00 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

For the second consecutive month, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was named the Eastern Conferences coach of the month.

That means we have a good team, so Im excited about that, Thibodeau, who tied Paul Westphals record for most regular-season wins for a first-year NBA head coach with 62 after Wednesday's home victory over New Jersey, said after Thursdays practice at the Berto Center.

Thibodeau is keeping up his usual practice of not being affected by any outside influences, as reflected to his reaction when queried about Pacers' leading scorer Danny Grangers comments about the Bulls not having many options beyond All-Star point guard Derrick Rose. Rose was gone by the time reporters were allowed on the practice floor; another engagement, a campaign rally with President Barack Obama Thursday evening, took precedence.

I dont concern myself with what Danny Granger says, said Thibodeau. If you need something like that to get motivated for the playoffs, somethings wrong with you.

Thibodeau led the Bulls to an 8-0 record in their truncated April slate, part of the teams nine-game season-ending winning streak as they prepare for Saturdays playoff opener against Indiana. Along with the NBA Coach of the Year award favorite, who guided Chicago to the leagues best overall record, resulting in home-court advantage throughout the postseason for the Bulls, Portlands Nate McMillan was honored in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, Thibodeau revealed that Bulls head trainer Fred Tedeschi cleared Ronnie Brewer to play in Saturday afternoons Game 1 after the swingman sat out Wednesday due to the sprained thumb he suffered Tuesday in New York.

Today was a light day. We just tried to prepare for Indiana, but I came early, got some shots up. I handed the ball a little bit, said Brewer. Its a little sore, but youve got to play through pain and thats what I tend to do.

Its playoff basketball and I wasnt going to miss it for anything, added the Bulls leader in steals. Come Game 1, youll see me diving on the floor, still trying to get in the passing lanes, working the baseline, doing the things that Ive done the entire year and if theres anything I can do this year to help this team, Im willing to do it.

Brewer joked about the amount of detail Thibodeau put into the scouting report for the Pacers, Chicgos first-round opponent.

If you all could see the playbook that we had at the beginning of the year, its the same thickness and thats just for one team, he quipped, adding that he was excited about Thibodeaus intense preparation.

Its like college, all-your-classes thick, so it was pretty funny when I saw it, he continued. I guess were going to be hitting our books tonight.

Turning serious, Brewer discussed how the Bulls would handle being the hunted after virtually floating under the radar for much of the season.

Were going to get everyones best shot. Were going to have a bullseye on our eye and our front, if you want to put it like that, explained Brewer. We won games because of the preparation that we had in practice and leading up to the games.

The fact that the Bulls will be playing the only Central Division team that defeated them all season will be a motivating factoralthough Brewer also insisted Grangers opinion didnt matter to the teamwith the ever-focused squad.

Were trying to make history here and going undefeated in our division would have been huge for us, said Brewer. We still remember that game and were still holding a chip on our shoulder.

Catch the Bulls' playoff opener against the Pacers on Saturday on Comcast SportsNet with coverage starting at 11:30 a.m.

Morning Update: Bulls win first meeting with Cavs; LeBron pays off Cubs-Indians bet

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USA TODAY

Morning Update: Bulls win first meeting with Cavs; LeBron pays off Cubs-Indians bet

Here are some of Friday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Saturday on CSN: Bradley vs. Nevada; Illinois State vs. New Mexico

Dwyane Wade, Bulls take first blood with LeBron James, Cavs

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

For Cubs, winter meetings will be all about the hunt for pitching 

White Sox reportedly asking for No. 1 prospect plus more in trade return for Chris Sale

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

LeBron James pays off bet, rocks Cubs uniform to the United Center

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 1

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

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USA TODAY

'Quarterback' Rajon Rondo executes Bulls' game plan, logs first triple-double of the year

Two nights after managing just 90 points in a lackluster home loss to the Lakers, the Bulls entered Friday night’s tilt against the defending-champion Cavaliers with a specific offensive game plan.

Attack, head coach Fred Hoiberg told his team, the interior of the Cleveland defense early to establish a presence in the paint. Knowing the Cavs, for all their strengths that made them NBA champions five months earlier, lacked a true rim protector, the Bulls made it a point to get Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez going.

The Bulls managed to do exactly that, tallying a season-high 78 points in the paint in their 111-105 victory over the Cavaliers. And while Lopez was again his usual efficient self and Gibson turned in his best performance of the season – the two scored 33 points on 15-for-23 shooting – it was point guard Rajon Rondo who proved to be the kick-starter for a Bulls offense that needed to be at its best to match Cleveland’s star power.

Rondo logged his first triple-double with the Bulls in the victory, tallying 15 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. But looking past the raw numbers, it was the shots Rondo took, and the passes he made, that allowed the Bulls to play so efficiently on offense and ultimately come away with their most impressive victory of the year.

Of Rondo’s 12 assists, all but two of the made shots off those passes came from a distance farther than 7 feet. Ten of Rondo’s assists resulted in baskets in the paint, of which the Bulls had 39 as a team. Squaring off against a subpar defender in Kyrie Irving, Rondo was active in knifing into the paint and finding open bigs inside. Rondo had six assists in the first quarter, and all but one resulted in baskets within 3 feet of the hoop.

All four of his made field goals in the first half were layups, as was his only bucket in the third quarter. His putback midway through the fourth quarter was also at the rim, and gave him his tenth rebound to secure the triple-double. Two possessions later he connected on a 3-pointer that gave the Bulls an eight-point lead; Cleveland never got closer than four the rest of the way. Rondo only took three shots outside of the paint. Friday marked the first time in a month Rondo had shot better than 50 percent from the field in back-to-back games.

Past Rondo’s own numbers, Gibson said that the Bulls’ point guard was instrumental in leading the Bulls’ offense to match up against a Cavaliers offense that entered the night second in the league in efficiency.

“He’s like a quarterback. Even though he never really played any contact football the way he always gathers the huddle, he always sees what’s going on in the game,” Gibson said. “He’s always encouraging. He’s pushing it. He’s a great teammate and I know he got a lot of criticism before the year, a lot of people talk about the negative that’s in it, but he’s been showing me nothing but great stuff on and off the court.”

In a game that had a playoff-like atmosphere to it simply because of the matchup between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, as well as the defending champs coming to town, the veteran Rondo took it upon himself to lead the Bulls offense. Though the Bulls wanted to avoid getting into a track meet against the fast-paced Cavs, Rondo didn’t allow the offense to become stagnant when it was apparent they could get into the paint at will.

“I thought Rondo was great all night long,” Fred Hoiberg said, “getting guys out and running, pushing them. You can hear him yelling “run with me” to get the guys down the floor. Rajon was a huge factor.”

His defense will continue to be a liability – Irving had an off-night shooting more than anything – and he won’t score 15 points each night, but his leadership and ability to run an offense with precision has the Bulls behind their floor general as they head into the season’s second month.

“He’s always inspiring. He’s one of those guys you want to go to war with. He’s one of those guys that’s in the huddle, you know that every time down the court if it’s a wrong call, a foul, a scuffle, if you not feeling right he’s always going to have your back no matter what.”