Rose and Bulls getting anxious to begin season


Oct 26

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At least the Bulls are expecting their regular starting lineup on the floor at the United Center when they open the 2009-10 season Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs.

“He’s practiced at full speed the last couple of days, went the whole practice,” said general manager Gar Forman of Rose. “We’re anticipating he’ll start (Thursday) and play.”

Rose has been bothered by a sore ankle since being kicked in the first preseason game against the Indiana Pacers before the Bulls went to play in London. Rose said it is taking him longer than usual to warm up and get loose because of the injury and inactivity and he isn’t certain how much he’ll play. He said he’ll leave that up to the team and medical staff.

The Bulls Monday announced the team captains for the season: Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Lindsey Hunter, the latter veteran for the first time. Also, the Bulls listed Derrick Byars on their opening day roster.

“He’s done a nice job, played hard, made shots. He’s a good kid,” said Forman.

Jannero Pargo missed part of practice Monday with back problems. Byars averaged 5.8 points in the preseason in 16.5 minutes per game. But he shot an impressive 50 percent on three pointers, going seven of 14. He is good insurance with injuries in the backcourt. His contract will not be guaranteed until into January. His addition has the Bulls roster at 14. The league maximum is 15.

Although the Bulls don’t open until Thursday, the NBA season officially begins Tuesday with the featured Cavs hosting the Celtics and the Lakers hosting the Clippers in both their arenas. Also Tuesday, Houston is at Portland and Washington is at Dallas. The likely slowed Rose has to open against speedsters Tony Parker with the Spurs and Rajon Rondo with the Celtics. But the Spurs are playing against the Bulls the second of a back to back after hosting New Orleans Wednesday while the Celtics host the Bulls Friday in Boston’s third game in four nights to open the season.

Meanwhile, you always have to preface it as being the preseason. But the Bulls produced on offense according to how they’d like to in the regular season in the absence of Ben Gordon.

The Bulls had eight players average in double figures, including Rose, who scored 17 points in the one game he played.

Tyrus Thomas was the leading scorer at 15 in four games followed by John Salmons at 12.8, Hinrich at 12.7, Taj Gibson at 10.8, Luol Deng at 10.8, Joakim Noah at 10.3 and Pargo at 10.3. Brad Miller averaged 9.8 and James Johnson 8.9. Hinrich shot 58.8 percent on threes hitting 10 of 17 while Salmons was 41.7 on threes at five of 12. Without Gordon, one of the questions was whether the Bulls would have enough outside shooting to stretch the court. The team shot 39.2 percent on threes in the preseason. No player averaged more than 30 minutes per game. Pargo was high at exactly 30.

Noah led in rebounding at 8.5 per game and Thomas at 6.3. The Bulls outrebounded opponents by almost three per game. Overall, the Bulls ranked seventh in rebounding.

Statistically, it was an impressive preseason for the Bulls, especially with Rose playing just one game, Thomas four, Miller five and Salmons six. The Bulls finished 6-2, behind only Orlando, which was 8-0 in the preseason. The Magic seemed most to be playing in regular season form with a whopping point differential of 17.75 per game and leading the league in scoring at 109.6.

The Bulls, despite Noah shooting 67 percent on free throws, still were seventh overall at 75.7 percent on free throws after shooting a lights out 79.6 percent from the line last season. The Bulls also finished the preseason fourth in blocks.

The Bulls emphasis this season is to be on defense. And, again, it must be emphasized it was the preseason. But the Bulls in October were No. 1 in the NBA in opponents’ field goal percentage at 40.3 percent. That’s usually one of the chief indicators on defense. The Bulls averaged 95.37 points per game and gave up 91.87, the latter tied for third fewest in the league.

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