Bulls return to United Center to prep for preseason finale


Dec 19

For the first time since falling to the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls took to the court at the United Center in preparation for their second—and final—preseason game on Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said a decision on whether newly acquired shooting guard Rip Hamilton would make his Bulls debut on Tuesday would be made following that morning’s shootaround at the Berto Center.

“We’ll see,” said Thibodeau. “I just want to make sure he’s ready to go. He’s moving along well and he’s in pretty good shape. I just want to make sure.”

However, when Carlos Boozer was asked if he would be surprised if Hamilton did not play, he responded simply, “He’ll play [Tuesday].”

“Really smooth transition so far,” added Boozer of Hamilton, who the Bulls signed after the 12-year NBA veteran was waived by the Pistons last week. “Offensively, he’s been playing the game a long time. We run a lot of sets that he was running in Detroit. Defensively, [the Pistons] were a very good team in their heyday. He fits in perfectly.”

Luol Deng said he’s also been impressed by Hamilton following only a handful of practices.

“Rip has been great,” said Deng. “You can just tell, 13 years in the league and a guy who has been with teams that have had great seasons, even won it, his experience is going to pay off. The great thing is that every practice, he’s been early, he’s practiced really hard, and he’s been talking to the young guys. He’s not just here to join us; he’s here because he knows he can really help us.”

With only one more preseason game remaining before the Bulls and Lakers tip-off the regular season Christmas Day in Los Angeles, Thibodeau acknowledges there is still ample work to be done.

“We’re a step behind where we’d like to be,” said Thibodeau, who expects to play his starters additional minutes on Tuesday. “We need to keep building. We want to be well balanced and we shot a very good percentage [in Indiana on Friday], but our turnovers were high. The intent was good in terms of moving the ball, so we want to continue to build on that. Defensively, we gave up a lot of second shots so we have to improve on that. And the start of the game, I didn’t think our intensity was there.”

Bulls open doors to season ticket holders

The Bulls will host the “Sixth Man Jam” event for all season ticket holders on Monday evening. The entire 2011-12 Chicago Bulls team, along with John Paxson, Gar Forman, Tom Thibodeau, Bob Love, Stacey King, Bill Wennington, Sidney Green and Randy Brown will be on hand for the event.

The Bulls personalities will be available in the arena concourses to sign autographs and mingle with the season ticket holders. Fans will also have the opportunity to shoot baskets on the floor, take pictures at center court and on the two team benches, and take photos with the Bulls’ six NBA Championship trophies.

Audio—Bulls forward Luol Deng’s post-practice comments (12.19.2011):

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