Posts Tagged ‘Tom Thibodea’

Defiant Rose a good sign for Bulls

VIDEO: recaps Chicago’s win against the Nuggets

CHICAGO – This time, Derrick Rose wasn’t just determined. Or stubborn.

This time, Rose was defiant. And it worked out for the Chicago Bulls, in a way by which the team’s followers should be encouraged with 60 percent of the NBA schedule and all of its postseason remaining.

Rose, the Bulls’ star point guard and most important player whether healthy or hurt, scattershot in the first half against Denver Thursday night at United Center and sputtered nearly as much in the third quarter. Whatever was ailing his jump shot as he clanged out the old year – 7-for-35 in Chicago’s final two games, the narrow escape at Indiana and a lifeless loss to Brooklyn – was making for a lousy New Year’s hangover in the new year. Through the game’s first 36 minutes, Rose was 2-for-14, making him an 18.3 percent shooter (9-of-49) over a span of about 72 hours.

So what did Rose do in the fourth quarter to try to salvage something positive to start 2015? Did he shift into playmaker mode and let teammates with hotter hands chase down and fend off the Nuggets?

Nope. He doubled down and shot 11 more times. Made five of them, too, and that was enough.

“I’m not going to let anyone dictate the way that I play,” Rose said after. The idea of holstering his weapon on a night its sight was sideways apparently never crossed his mind.

“If they’re giving me shots, I’m going to take them. Shots that I normally make, I’m going to keep taking them. I could care less what anyone says or talk about my game. They’re giving me shots, I should be able to make those shots.”

Rose’s increasing reliance on jump shots — including 3-pointers, which he’s hitting about as often as folks pulled from the stands during timeouts (32 of 121, 26.4 percent) — has been a noticeable and much-talked about change in his game.

Coaches such as Denver’s Brian Shaw and Brooklyn’s Lionel Hollins have lauded it as a means of self-preservation for a player whose explosiveness when attacking the paint might be too violent for his own good. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau mostly encourages Rose to be aggressive and avoids criticism — other than reminding him not to “settle” for an outside shot when lanes to the basket are available.

“Really, it’s my teammates giving me confidence,” Rose said after the 106-101 victory, which he helped seal with 13 of his 17 points in his final 7:49. “Even when you’re missing shots like I am the past couple games, teammates are still giving me the ball, giving me confidence, telling me to shoot the ball, still giving me the ball in position to shoot the ball. I’m very fortunate.”

Said forward Taj Gibson: “We kept telling him the whole game — the last couple games — to keep shooting. He understands that we all believe in him, but you keep putting the work in, you keep pushing through, keep taking the same looks, something special is going to happen.”

That Rose’s teammates aren’t second-guessing the choices he’s been making on the floor is nice. But frankly, given his nature, it’s not likely he would change things up or shy away from his shot even if they balked. The same hard-headedness that so exasperated Bulls fans during his extended recoveries from two knee surgeries and the tentativeness with which he seemed to play for much of the early 2014-15 season might have turned in his, the team’s and their favor now.

“My mentality is not going to change,” he said. “I’m going to shoot the ball. I’m a scoring guard.”

You can’t score if you don’t shoot. Rose’s jaw is set, his mind is made up and he’s going to play the way he thinks is best. Chicago, well, it signed up for that a long time ago.

Hibbert Displays ‘Law Of Verticality”

CHICAGO – Tom Thibodeau
called it a train wreck. Frank Vogel, though, took the high road, so to speak, talking about the collision near the basket, near the end of the Indiana Pacers’ 80-76 victory over Chicago at the United Center, as a “fundamental of verticality.”

It just so happened that Pacers center Roy Hibbert, exercising his verticality, sent Bulls forward Luol Deng into a position of horizontality.

Here’s the situation: Chicago trailed 78-76 with 14.1 seconds left. Deng passed inbounds to Joakim Noah, then cut backdoor on Paul George and received a pass from the Bulls center. Hibbert hurried a couple of steps across the paint to meet Deng to the right of the rim. Deng was airborne and Hibbert went up. Straight up, arms extended.

Bang! Serious body contact but no whistle. Deng went down as the crowd at United Center roared. Thibodeau threw up his arms. Hibbert wasn’t looking for a charge and didn’t get one, despite Deng’s leading elbow, but he somehow got a blocked shot. David West grabbed the ball and was fouled. Sank them both, game over.

“He’s the biggest reason why we lead the league in field-goal defense,” Vogel said a few minutes later. “He’s the best in the league at exercising the fundamental of verticality. Using his legs, getting off his feet and making a legal defensive play and earning a no-call.

“You’re allowed to jump straight up, no matter where you are, and absorb contact. When he learned that and went away from trying to draw charges like he was earlier in his career, he went from not being able to stay on the court to being one of the best defensive centers in the NBA.”

George, the best player on the floor with 34 points, said he didn’t mean to lose Deng but added: “Roy told me to send him into him. I knew I had a big back there, one of the best bigs in the league.”

Thibodeau, who vented at the officials without penalty for what little time remained, saw something different.

“In my eyes, he got wiped out,” the Bulls coach said. “I did not get an explanation. He had a layup. It was a train wreck. I’m not going to put it on the officials. A tough call went against us. We still have to get it done.”

Knowing the law of verticality and getting it enforced in the heat of the moment, on the road, might be two different things. But Vogel said he never was worried.

“It’s a legal defensive play that the refs have been honoring throughout the league with all big men,” the Pacers coach said. “It’s made the game a better game. Less guys are trying to draw charges and fall on the ground underneath athletes.”

What matters for Indiana is that one big guy is doing less of that, after seeking out charges his first couple seasons.

“Nah, I don’t take charges,” Hibbert said. “I used to, but [former Pacers big man] Jeff Foster told me it messed his back up and shaved a couple years off his career. So nah, I’m a 7-footer, I’m going to try to block a shot at the rim.”

Hibbert, who is well-known for his intensive work in the summers, focused a lot on defense with the goal of being honored for it -– for the first time -– by the league’s coaches when this season ends.

“I’m always around the rim,” Hibbert said, ” touching the man I’m guarding and still getting back. Y’know, 7-foot-2 centers from Georgetown, we always play defense.”

Hibbert didn’t need to wag a finger to make the Dikembe Mutombo connection. He isn’t quite there yet, but he is averaging 3.1 blocks (compared to 2.0 last season) and this was his 12th consecutive game with at least two rejections. The Pacers began the night No. 1, holding teams to 40.8 percent shooting, then improved by limiting Chicago to 38.4.

Said Hibbert: “That’s my staple. If my offense isn’t going, I always have to play defense. That’s not gonna slack.”