Thibodeau wants Bulls to ‘fight from the start’


Dec 11

Following another slow start for the Bulls, Coach Tom Thibodeau again found himself fielding questions about whether a change to the starting lineup might in order.

On Friday, Chicago found itself down 22-12 after the first quarter of its game against the Lakers, one which started with the Bulls facing an early 18-6 deficit against the two-time defending champions.

While the Bulls turned the tables and outscored the Lakers 24-10 in the second frame, the team’s sluggish first quarters on a far too regular basis is reason for concern.

Also concerning has been the performance of starting shooting guard Keith Bogans as of late. On Friday against Los Angeles, Bogans played 11:15 and went scoreless with two rebounds and zero assists. Over his last ten games, the eighth year veteran has averaged only 3.0 points, 1.3 assists and 0.7 assists in 14.0 minutes per game.

Reserves Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, on the other hand, have provided sparks off the bench during the team’s current four game winning streak; thus the speculation that a change is needed persists.

But Thibodeau has stressed that the slow starts should not be pinned on Bogans, something he reiterated on Saturday prior to facing the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I’m concerned about our team,” insisted Thibodeau. “It’s collective. It’s not on Keith; it’s on the team [and] our readiness to play. When we’re ready to play, we play well. Sometimes we’re lethargic. But to put it all on Keith is unfair and not right.”

Bogans and the Bulls will have another chance to come out of the gates quickly against the Timberwolves, though they’ve proven to start strong themselves. Avoiding a letdown from Friday’s victory is also on the Bulls’ minds.

“That’s the challenge, we have to be ready to go,” said Thibodeau. “Minnesota is a tough opponent and they put a lot of points on the board. They’re a great rebounding team. In the Oklahoma City game, they put 40 points on the board in the first quarter. We’ve got to be ready to fight from the start.”

Bulls vs. Timberwolves season notes

Last season, Chicago swept the season series (2-0) with Minnesota for the first time since the 2004-05 season … in two games against the Timberwolves last year, the Bulls averaged 105.0 ppg, while Minnesota averaged 100.0 ppg … Joakim Noah posted 20 points and nine rebounds in one game against the T-Wolves last season, while Taj Gibson averaged 13.5 ppg and 9.0 rpg in two games vs. Minnesota … since the 2004-05 season, Chicago is 4-2 against Minnesota at the UC … Chicago is 13-7 in the series at the United Center and 10-10 at Minnesota … the Bulls and Minnesota have played just two overtime contests, the most recent one coming during the 2008-09 season in Minnesota (a 109-108 Minnesota victory at the Target Center) … in two games last season, Chicago averaged 48.5 rpg, while Minnesota produced 39.5 rpg against the Bulls.

Audio—Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (12.11.10):

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