AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—The Bulls' anemic three-point shooting, 32.5 percent entering Wednesday night's game against the Pistons, has been an issue all season, even before Derrick Rose's season-ending injury.
But without Rose's driving ability to create more open looks, it's even more of a concern moving forward, as the Bulls' inability to space the floor allows opposing defenses to pack the paint. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau admitted that his team is struggling from outside, but attributes their poor marksmanship to taking the wrong shots.
"Usually, you want two [defenders] on the ball and you want to play inside-out. The ball has to hit the paint to be able to force the defense to collapse and right now, we started off not shooting it well. We started shooting it a little better. We've just got to take the right ones," he explained before the Bulls' morning shootaround Wednesday at Detroit Country Day School, alma mater of retired NBA player Chris Webber and Miami Heat forward Shane Battier.
"I think the early, quick three on the strong side in transition is not one we want to take. But I think if the balls hit the paint, it's coming out or it's quick penetration, we're forcing the defense to collapse and there's the kick-out to the weak side, those are great threes. Those are rhythm threes, so those are the things that you have to do and right now, the challenge when you've been on the road like we've been, is you've got to play with energy. High energy is important and hopefully we can do that."
All-Star small forward Luol Deng chimed in: "It's something that we've struggled on. I've struggled on personally. It's still  games to go. It's something that we've got to keep working on and it's something that we've talked about as a team, not only shooting it, but also defending it. We haven't been defending it well. It's something else that we've got to work on, collectively and individually."
Thibodeau sticking with rookie Snell
So much for the theory that Thibodeau doesn't play rookies in their debut NBA season. The coach said he would start first-round pick Tony Snell for a second consecutive game, though some of the rationale includes bringing veteran Mike Dunleavy Jr. off the bench, which gives the reserves some necessary offensive firepower, as well as some continuity.
"We're going to start Tony again tonight and hopefully he can continue to improve. I thought he made some good plays in that game. His defense, I thought was very good and I thought he got some good looks. I think he'll knock shots down. He's got to be able to knock shots down for us," Thibodeau explained. "The second unit had been playing very, very well from the preseason to the start of the season, so I wanted to try to get back to that unit and I want to see Tony with the starters, and that was good."
Snell had nine points in 25 minutes of play during Monday's loss in Utah.
Veteran James possible addition to rotation?
Playing in Detroit, where he was a member of the 2004 NBA champion Pistons, third-string point guard Mike James could play a bigger role for the Bulls, if Monday was any indication. James saw action against the Jazz earlier than usual, as Thibodeau didn't go back to second-year point guard Marquis Teague immediately, though the youngster played later on in the contest.
"Mike's capable. Mike started a lot of games last year for Dallas, did a good job for them. He did a good job for us the last time he was with us, so he's part of the team," explained Thibodeau, who has history with the 38-year-old James, dating back to their days together in Houston and the point guard's stint with the Bulls in the 2011-12 season. "We're going to need everybody and a lot of it's going to be matchups. So we'll look at how we match up with people. We're just trying to sort it all out right now."