New-look Bulls maintaining old habits

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New-look Bulls maintaining old habits

When the Bulls open their 2012-13 season tomorrow at home against the Kings, there will be multiple new faces on the bench and a notably absent former MVP in the starting lineup.

Like the majority of NBA teams, the new-look Bulls have question marks in certain areas. But as head coach Tom Thibodeau has preached all offseason and into the preseason, he expects nothing to change regarding the way his team prepares and executes this season.

And Thibodeau seems to be in mid-season form with his list of objectives for his team.

Our style of plays gonna be the same. Were not changing our attitude or approach to how were gonna play; defend, rebound, low turnovers, inside-out, share the ball, cover up your weaknesses, know your job, do your job, know when to shoot, know when to pass, stay disciplined. Whether Rose is here or not, thats always the same.

Weve got a host of new players, forward Carlos Boozer said. Our core is the same, our principles are the same and our goals are the same. We all have the same challenge of getting better every day.

With the group Gar Forman and John Paxson constructed in the offseason, Thibodeau seems to have put an emphasis on running the offense through the post. With a core frontcourt of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson, Thibodeaus hope is that establishing the painted area and then working the ball back outside will yield results for an offense that struggled to score in the preseason.

We want to be inside-out. The defense is gonna tell you what shot youre gonna get. I want us to make the right plays. We want to score as quickly as we can, score as many easy baskets as we can; our looks, in order, are lay-ups and dunks first, deep post-ups second, and then open jumpers third, he said. So the more we score inside, that puts more pressure on the defense. Then the responsibility of those players is to hit the open man.

That process began slow for the Bulls, but Thibodeau must be pleased with how his group battled back in the preseason, winning its last four contests. But even with improved results, it may take the Bulls more than an offseason to fully acclimate to each others styles of plays and roles on this years team. Thats where Thibodeau will play a major factor, changing on the go and feeling out his teams strengths and weaknesses.

Just because were starting doesnt mean its the end-all. We know its the beginning and you constantly have to work on different things. You have a problem area, you address it, Thibodeau said. So youre constantly working on things, trying to build the right habits so you can be successful in the end.

And while Thibodeau has instilled consistency on a daily basis for his team, expectations have stayed the same, as well. With Rose out indefinitely, the Indiana Pacers are considered by many to be the frontrunners in the Central Division. But inside the Berto Center, the Bulls arent worried about what anyone thinks but themselves.

I feel like the expectations for us are always pretty similar. We want to get better. We want to play our best when our best is needed, Joakim Noah said. Were a hungry group and whether its two years ago, last year or this year, the goal is to be ready when it hits the fan at the end of the year in the playoffs.

Their first test will be tomorrow night against Sacramento, a group of young, rising players who are likely still a few years away from competing. Led by Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, power forward Taj Gibson said some of the other players like Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas and Jason Thompson are talented players who may be unknown because of the Kings lack of recent success.

Theyre not rookies anymore. Theyve got a lot of guys that can play. Theyve got a lot of guys that people dont really know about because their team the last couple of years has not been doing so well, but its all about a new year. Everybodys focused and ready. Its all about who wants to compete harder and I know that weve got to come out with the right mindset.

It may be a new year for all 30 teams, but the Bulls, facing questions and a relatively new roster, are looking at it no different than they have the first two seasons under Thibodeau.

The skys the limit for us, Gibson said. Right now were focused on just winning one game at a time. Its up to us to play hard, but I know we have a lot of talent and Im looking forward to shocking the world.

Honda Road Ahead: Bulls continue playoff push against Cavaliers, Hawks

Honda Road Ahead: Bulls continue playoff push against Cavaliers, Hawks

Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill and Will Perdue break down the Bulls' upcoming schedule in the latest edition of the Bulls Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

TNT Bulls are back this week as the team heads into a crucial stretch. 

Currently, the Bulls sit half a game back of the Miami Heat for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and with just eight games remaining on the schedule, each contest is essentially a must-win. 

So, yes, Thursday would be a great time for Jimmy Butler and company to summon their TNT alter ego. The Bulls have sealed 18 straight victories when playing on TNT Thursday, an improbable feat considering those games are usually reserved for two of the NBA's best. 

To continue that run, they'll have to down Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are also fighting for playoff positioning -- albeit at the top of the conference. Good thing the Bulls have a tendency to get up for big games. 

"The Bulls play up and down to their competition," Bulls Pregame and Postgame analyst Kendall Gill said. "They've been doing that the whole season." 

After Cleveland, the Bulls get set to battle another playoff squad, the Atlanta Hawks. 

Watch the video above to see Schanowski, Gill and Perdue break down the matchups. 

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson's foot could keep him out until late May

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson's foot could keep him out until late May

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Charlie Tilson will spend another three weeks in a walking boot and is likely out until at least the end of May.

The White Sox outfielder has been wearing the boot ever since he re-aggravated a stress reaction in his right foot earlier this month. Tilson is also rehabbing a torn hamstring that required surgery last August and ended his 2016 season early.

The White Sox later downed the San Francisco Giants 4-3 at Camelback Ranch. Catcher Roberto Pena had a two-out, two-run single in the ninth.

“It’s likely going to be a little bit of a process from there,” Tilson said. “One of those things you have to listen to your body. Like I said, it may take more time than I would like. But the ultimate goal is to be sustainable and get myself back to where I need to be.”

The White Sox top options for center field remain veteran Peter Bourjos and prospect Jacob May. They also could use Leury Garcia in center, manager Rick Renteria said.

Center field is one of several open roster battles with only three full days to go in camp. The team is off on Thursday before playing a pair of exhibition games at Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday.

“We’ll figure it out, and it could be in the next couple of days,” Renteria said. “We just have to allow it to play out and then make a determination at that point.”

The White Sox also have two spots up for grabs in the back of the bullpen. Michael Ynoa, who is out of options, non-roster invitees Anthony Swarzak, Cory Luebke and Matt Purke, and rookie Zack Burdi are vying for jobs. Rookie Juan Minaya is likely to start the season on the disabled list.

Rule 5 draftee Dylan Covey, who pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday, could figure into the team’s plans even more if Carlos Rodon starts the season on the disabled list. Covey is expected to start for the White Sox on Wednesday against the San Diego Padres.

Sunday’s starter James Shields said he’s ready for the regular season after throwing five innings. Shields allowed three earned runs and eight hits, walked three and struck out two.

He finished the Cactus League with a 3.45 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.

“Overall I felt good and I’m ready to move on,” Shields said. “These last couple outings I’ve been trying to work on my two-seam fastball. Today it was a little erratic, but overall felt pretty good.”

Nate Jones struck out two in a scoreless inning pitched. David Robertson, Blake Smith and Dan Jennings also pitched a scoreless inning.

Jose Abreu doubled and walked in four trips. Melky Cabrera singled twice in three trips.