Thomas stays home sick; Skiles praises Bucks rookie Jennings


Nov 3

By Adam Fluck

The Bulls extended their home winning streak against the Bucks to eight games and got back to .500 on the season with an 83-81 win over Milwaukee on Tuesday at the United Center.

Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas missed the game after leaving the team’s gameday shootaround with flu-like symptoms.

“Tyrus is sick,” said Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro an hour before tip-off, “and he won’t play.”

Del Negro said he did not speak to Thomas following the morning session. Thomas was in to see Bulls Head Athletic Trainer Fred Tedeschi and did not come to the arena last evening.  Rookie Taj Gibson got the start in his place.

When asked if Del Negro was unhappy with Thomas’ play, he responded: “I’m unhappy with our play as a team. I’m not going to talk about guys individually like that. Everyone needs to pick it up a little bit.”

Thomas posted 13 points, six boards and three steals in the season opening win against San Antonio, but his minutes and productivity have decreased since then. In a loss at Miami on Sunday, the fourth-year forward scored only four points along with six rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes.

The Bulls were not the only team in the building without a starter, as Bucks guard Michael Redd is sidelined with a strained left patella tendon. Redd suffered the injury in the team’s home opening win against Detroit on Saturday.

“It’s happened to us before,” said Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles of Redd’s absence. “We weathered it respectably last year, although it hurt us when [Andrew] Bogut also went down.”

Skiles announced Charlie Bell would start in Redd’s place and noted that the team’s effort to add some extra depth in the off-season should prove helpful now.

Redd underwent an MRI exam on Sunday and will be re-evaluated in two weeks by a Bucks team doctor.

The matchup between Derrick Rose and rookie Brandon Jennings was an intriguing one. Rose finished with 16 points and five assists, while Jennings led all scorers with 25 points, four assists and two steals.

“He’s played very well,” Skiles said prior to the game of Jennings, who averaged 20.5 ppg, 6.0 apg and 5.5 rpg in his first two games. “He’s gotten progressively better from the first day of rookie league. In the exhibition he had his ups and downs, more up than down we felt. His shot wasn’t going in, but he showed really good command of what we are trying to do and made good decisions with the ball.”

Skiles said if the Bucks were shooting the ball at a higher rate—they hit 40.5 percent of shots from the field through two games—Jennings would be averaging a double-double. He also credited the young point guard for his work ethic since heading overseas to play professionally for a season before becoming eligible for the NBA.

“When his European experience didn’t go the way he thought it would when he got there, his default mechanism was to get in the gym and work out,” said Skiles. “He genuinely loves to play the game. I know everyone says they do, but I think we all know at this level there are a lot of guys who love the game and there are other guys who love the stuff the game provides. He loves to play and he’s in the gym all the time.”

As for Rose, Skiles acknowledged he’s very difficult to guard due to his speed and power.

“He’s one of those guys there isn’t a whole lot you can do with him out there,” Skiles said. “You just have to try the best you can to keep him out of the paint and make him shoot jump shots. On nights when those are going down for him, he’s almost unstoppable.”

Since the 2003-04 season, Chicago has now gone a combined 17-4 against Milwaukee, including 10-1 at home. Last season the Bulls won the season series 3-1, with their lone loss coming in Milwaukee on Dec. 3.

Last year against the Bucks, Luol Deng averaged 21.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg, while Rose recorded 18.5 ppg, 8.3 apg and 2.8 rpg.

Audio—Del Negro discusses Tyrus Thomas’ absence, facing the Bucks without Michael Redd, and the impressive start by Brandon Jennings:

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