Davis believes Bulls will be just fine without Rose


Davis believes Bulls will be just fine without Rose

While its still early in the NBA season, there have been many surprises and one of the big ones has been the Orlando Magic.

Coming into Tuesday nights game against the Bulls, Orlando led the league in three-point field goal percentage (.538), was second in scoring (108) and had won their first two games by a margin of 17 points.

After losing franchise cornerstone, Dwight Howard, along with coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, most believed the Magic would be one of the worst teams in the league, if not the worst.

Leading the way for them has been Glen Big Baby Davis, who is averaging a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds per game.

While those numbers may catch many off guard, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isnt one of them, having coached and seen Davis mature during his time as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.

It doesnt surprise me, Thibodeau said of Davis production. Hes shown throughout his career hes more than capable. Hes been in a number of big games before. Hes started games, come off the bench. There was the one season in Boston where Kevin Garnett got hurt, Davis started and scored big. So I know how good he is as a player.

The Magic fell to the Bulls 99-93 Tuesday, but Davis finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

He credits his time in Boston for helping shape the player he is today, and credits Thibodeau with helping shape the mindset hes developed.

Just the mentality of perfection, said Davis. You cant be perfect but you can strive to be perfect. He did that in everything he did. Defensively, from the way he approached the game, long hours and nights of watching film on tendencies of players, what to do and what not to do.

"You pick that up as a youngster if you want to do well and if you want to succeed. Just his ins and outs of the game, especially after winning that championship in 2008, to see how good we were defensively because of his mentality and the way he approached every game. I learned a lot from him.

Its in knowing Thibodeaus mentality and pursuit of perfection why Davis doesnt see the Bulls being far from where they have been the past two years. Even without having Derrick Rose for most of the season.

I dont see them taking a step back, says Davis. I just see guys on their team having to step up. Guys just have to do a little bit more because Derrick Rose did a lot for that team. Guys like Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah are guys that can really play the game at a high level.

"They have to do a little bit more to get wins. With Thibodeaus mindset, theyre going to play defense, but on the offensive end, knowing how to score and finding a way to score without Rose, theyre going to have to play as a team.

Whether or not Davis and the Magic can continue building on an impressive start remains to be seen. And when asked on that thought, Davis echoes phrases derived straight from the mind of Thibodeau.

Im just looking forward to taking things one day at a time and making sure that I walk the walk.

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Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

College teammates Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder made plans to go to dinner after Thursday’s game in Chicago but for a few short moments they weren’t just competitors but unexpected combatants, getting tangled up in the second quarter.

There looked to be some harsh words exchanged after Butler took a charge on an unsuspecting Crowder near three-quarter court, with Crowder putting the basketball in Butler’s chest while Butler was still on the floor, causing players on both teams to convene for some tense moments.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas got involved and then before Butler could blink, Bulls guard Rajon Rondo joined the proceedings, as pushing and shoving ensued before technical fouls were assessed to both teams after an officials’ review.

If one wondered whether these Bulls—a team that touts itself as young with so many players having three years or less professional experience—could play with some bark and bite, perhaps the season opener provided a bit of a positive preview for the next 81 games.

Nearby, an unbothered Dwyane Wade took a practice 3-point shot, much to the delight of the United Center crowd, as observers witnessed the first sign of tangible proof the Bulls have intentions on regaining a bit of an edge on the floor.

Wade joked and took it as a sign of respect between the two teams.

“It looked like it, right? Yeah. It was a little something out there,” said Wade when asked if there was some chippy play. “Every time we play them it’s gonna be like that. Two teams finding their way in the Eastern Conference. We know we gotta see each other a lot. They never give up. They can be down 30 with 15 seconds left and they’re still gonna fight.”

The Bulls have externally preached toughness from the start of camp. Although Wade didn’t participate in that meeting of the minds, he isn’t exactly running away from such matters.
And Rajon Rondo is competitively ornery enough to have his voice hard no matter the setting.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It’s been a big theme of practice,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We want to play with physicality and toughness. I think it was evident on the glass tonight.”

Yes, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 19, but that could’ve been a by-product of the Bulls’ crashing the offensive glass on a porous shooting night. And yes, the slightly tense moment between Butler and Crowder probably won’t be an expected occurrence.

But when’s the last time one had multiple examples to dissect to discern this team’s level of toughness—or lack thereof.

“That’s something to show that the guys are out there fighting for each other,” Hoiberg said. “That they were playing with an edge. It happens with this game. You have to be competitive.”

Competition boiled over slightly, but considering the NBA isn’t exactly UFC, one doesn’t have to do much to display a little physical resolve.

“The fact that nothing escalated was good,” Hoiberg said. “The fact that those guys are out there and playing for each other and have each other’s back, that’s a huge thing right now.”

Too many times last season, it seemed the Bulls would submit in situations like those. Not that they were particularly soft, but it didn’t appear they had the collective will to fight for one another if an altercation arose.

Half the time, they looked like they could barely stand to be in the room with each other.

“It’s people’s will to win. Not saying a bad thing about anybody from last year,” Butler said. “To tell you the truth, I study the game and put in a lot of work but Rondo studies the game a lot. Every time I’m in the gym, he’s in the gym. That lets me know, these (dudes) are going to war with you. Every day. When I hit that deck, Rondo was right there. I wanna play with guys that’s gonna play hard, that’s gonna fight.”

And it didn’t take long for Butler to realize he has at least a couple teammates willing to jump in the foxhole with him.