Bulls face first back-to-back test in Minnesota


Oct 14

By Adam Fluck

Following Tuesday’s 87-86 home win over the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bulls (3-1) hit the road one last time in the preseason for Minnesota, where they’ll take on the Timberwolves (1-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on CSN-Chicago+ (if you can't find this channel, try this link.).

Tonight’s game also marks the first back-to-back test for the Bulls this year.

Chicago could again be without Derrick Rose (right ankle, doubtful), Tyrus Thomas (right hip, questionable) and Brad Miller (flu, not with the team). Thomas participated in a walk-through Wednesday morning at the team’s hotel, while Rose did not.

Deng_091016 However, on Tuesday, Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro expressed optimism that Rose and Thomas could both practice as early as Thursday.

Following the win over the Bucks, Del Negro acknowledged that the injuries have made it difficult to gauge the team’s progress, but was pleased with the effort from the players who have been healthy enough to go.

“I am happy with our execution down the stretch,” he said after the Bulls held on for their second one-point exhibition win. “We work a lot in practice on those things and it is good to get those situations in games.  It is difficult to see where we're at, but we're executing and making shots.  We had some unselfish plays down the stretch, and I like the way guys are fighting through stuff.”

With Thomas and Miller out, Joakim Noah took on extra minutes against Milwaukee and finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds in 34 and a half minutes of action. He cramped up in the second half, but went on to finish strong and display his trademark energy and hustle. Noah averaged a double-double in the team’s historic playoff series with Boston, and he was asked if he’s capable of doing that over an entire season.

“It would be nice, but I really think I have to take what the game gives to me,” said Noah. “I'm not sure the eight points and 12 rebounds is especially a bad game.  But I also know there are high expectations.  I do have to take what comes to me.  I know it's a little bit cliché, but it's true.”

Noah also shared words of praise for rookie Taj Gibson, who turned in another solid performance with 15 points and 10 rebounds in over 31 minutes.

“I think Taj is a really humble kid,” said Noah. “He works hard, he has a professional attitude, and is a great teammate.  I really respect him and how much he cares about the team.”

Noah and the Bulls will have their hands full tonight, facing Al Jefferson—even if only for a short stretch or two—and a host of other young but talented Timberwolves.

Jefferson has yet to play more than 18 minutes in the team’s first two games as he cautiously works to heal his right knee. In the team’s last game, a 112-97 loss at Toronto on Friday, he played in only the first half and scored 14 points, but had only one rebound.

Jonny Flynn (14.0 ppg, 4.0 apg), Corey Brewer (9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Ryan Gomes (10.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Kevin Love (14.5 ppg, 13.5 rpg) will likely round out new Head Coach Kurt Rambis’ starting five.

The Bulls and Timberwolves will meet again on Friday at the United Center at 7 p.m.

Tip-Off Luncheon tickets still available:
The entire 2009-10 Chicago Bulls team, along with Vinny Del Negro and the rest of the Bulls coaching staff and front office, will officially open the 2009-10 basketball season with the team’s annual Tip-Off Luncheon on Wednesday, October 21 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.  Additionally, Bulls legends Artis Gilmore, Johnny Bach, Tom Boerwinkle, Dave Corzine, Bob Love and Mickey Johnson will be attending the event.

Long-time Bulls announcer Neil Funk will emcee the event which will include addresses from Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and Head Coach Vinny Del Negro. Bulls’ players will be on hand to comment on their expectations and goals for the new season as guests enjoy lunch and take advantage of the opportunity to purchase pieces of Bulls’ history in a silent auction. All proceeds from the event and the silent auction will benefit CharitaBulls.

Tickets may be purchased by contacting the Bulls at 312.455.4122 or

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