CHARLOTTE—As expected, veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich will miss Friday night’s matchup with the Bobcats, due to a re-aggravation of his right elbow injury.
“He’s not going to go tonight,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s a little bit better today. We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”
The Bulls face Oklahoma City in the second game of their two-game road trip Sunday.
Bulls don’t take Bobcats for granted
Friday’s opponent, the Bobcats, may not be in the upper echelon of the league, but that doesn't mean that Thibodeau is discounting their talent.
“They’re hard to guard off the dribble. Great speed, quickness. [B.J.] Mullens gives them the range-shooting four, spreads you out. [Bismack] Biyombo and [Michael [Kidd-Gilchrist] are extremely athletic and quick,” he said. “You can’t let your guard down. Make or miss, they’re going to push it hard at you. You have to have great body position, keep them off the line, keep the ball out of the paint.”
Thibodeau disappointed in team’s offense
Coming into Friday’s contest, Thibodeau has concerns about his team’s offensive efficiency, as the Bulls turned the ball over 27 times against the Heat in Thursday night’s blowout loss at the United Center.
“We were back on our heels. The ball pressure, they got into us. You can’t allow someone to get you back on your heels. You’ve got to own your space, got to keep the ball moving. If they’re flooding to the strong side, you’ve got to move it quickly to the weak side and often times, it’s the second and third pass that results in the open shot. in looking at the film, of course the turnovers were the big issue and a lot of it was the ball pressure that got us back. We traveled and our conversion on the break has to be a lot better. We didn’t get any easy baskets. Against a tough team like that, you can’t afford to turn the ball over the way we did and that being said, Jo’s got an open jump shot in the fourth quarter that if it goes down, it’s a five or seven-point game and you’re right there, so we know we’re capable of playing a lot better than we did,” he observed.
“Right now, we have to find the rhythm with a lot of moving parts. We have guys in and out, so that’s part of it, but that’s the nature of this league. The New Orleans game, I thought we had a good intensity level and last night, we didn’t play like what we’re capable of, so for us, the level of intensity’s huge,” he added.
Deng having a rough stretch
When asked about what can be done to get Bulls leading scorer Luol Deng back on track—the All-Star small forward has been up and down since returning to the lineup from a hamstring injury last month—Thibodeau responded, “Well, we’ve got to run the offense. That’s what we have to do.”
Teague getting an opportunity
In Hinrich’s absence Thursday, Thibodeau turned to 19-year-old rookie point guard Marquis Teague for extended minutes against Miami.
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“He made a couple good plays. He’s got to do better with his defense and running the team, but typical rookie,” the coach evaluated. “There’s good, bad. I just want him to concentrate on improvement.”
More Jordan at 50
When asked about the notion that Bobcats owner Michael Jordan could still play in the NBA at his current age, Thibodeau was diplomatic about the Bulls legend and recent birthday boy.
“I have enough to worry about with my own team. You’re talking about an all-time great, maybe the greatest of all-time. I think he’s done with that phase and his record speaks for itself,” he said. “I don’t know, at 50 years old, if he could live up to the standard that he had established for his entire career. I’m sure if you talked about could he do it for one game, probably. Could he do it for a few? He’s an all-time great player.”
Jordan has brought on others with Bulls ties, such as former Thibodeau assistant Rick Brunson, general manager Rod Higgins and scout Dickey Simpkins—all three played for the Bulls; the first latter two were Jordan’s teammates—to Charlotte.