Detroit’s Gordon preaches patience, praises Thibodeau


Mar 30

While Bulls guard Derrick Rose missed his ninth game in a row Friday with a sore right groin, Detroit’s Ben Gordon was also sidelined for a second consecutive game with a similar injury.

“A groin is one of those things where if it’s not 100 percent, there’s the chance you risk re-injuring it,” said Gordon following the Pistons shootaround Friday morning at the United Center. “So you’ve got to be smart with it. Treat it and rest as much as possible.”

Gordon said he is getting better every day, but he isn’t about to rush back before he’s ready. The eighth-year pro tried to do that Monday in Washington, but lasted only six minutes against the Wizards.

While the postseason won’t enter into the picture for Detroit, now 18-33 overall, Chicago has held on to the NBA’s best record in spite of Rose missing 19 games this season.

“He has the luxury of missing these games with the way his team has been holding the fort down while he’s been away,” said Gordon. “I think everybody around the league has been not shocked, but impressed with the role players have come in and stepped up. He has the luxury of being able to sit out until he’s 110 percent because his guys have been playing really well.”

Pistons coach Lawrence Frank concurred, adding he believes the jobs done by Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau, as well as GM Gar Forman and John Paxson, have paid major dividends this season.

“I think it’s a marvel to Tom and their players,” said Frank of the Bulls’ success without Rose and Richard Hamilton, who may return to action against his former team. “Tom is a very close friend of mine and I know how super of a coach he is. It’s also the talent level. Gar and John have done a great job of putting together a team of high character, hard playing guys that really care about the team first. It’s a credit to the organization. To be 13-5 [entering Friday’s game] without Derrick Rose, it’s unbelievable. The credit belongs to the players first, then Tom, and the management team for putting together the right team and Tom being as insistent as he is every day about the habits you have to have to be a championship team.”

“He’s probably the best coach in the league,” said Gordon of Thibodeau, who earned NBA Coach of the Year honors last season, his first as head coach. “You look at what they’ve been able to do without their MVP player in Derrick and just the consistency the ballclub has, it seems like they don’t really miss a step. It’s like [Thibodeau] has cookie cutter guys who come in and perform their roles to a T and they get Ws.

“I’m impressed with the way they approach the game, especially on the defensive end and rebounding end, as well as their overall consistency and how he gets them to play night in and night out, regardless of whether someone is hurt,” added Gordon. “On top of that, they have very talented players. That doesn’t hurt either. They have a nice mix from top to bottom. It’s a great team.”

As for how the Bulls will fare in the postseason, Gordon believes they are better equipped now compared to a year ago.

“I look at this team last year and I don’t know if they would have been able to do what they’re doing now if Derrick was out, especially after the year he had last year,” said Gordon. “So it seems like they’ve gotten a lot better and a lot deeper with their bench and guys really stepping up. Obviously with the addition of Rip, I think they’re a better team than they were last year. They’re right up there and have just as good of a chance as anyone in the Eastern Conference.”

Gordon, who will turn 29 on Wednesday, continues to look back on his time in Chicago with fondness. Selected by the Bulls with the third overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Gordon spent five seasons with the team before moving on to Detroit. And while he’s playing for a Central Division rival, he’s glad to see his former club winning on a regular basis.

“They’re playing some of their best basketball in years,” said Gordon of the Bulls. “It’s good to see some of my old teammates having that success right now.”

Audio—Pistons guard Ben Gordon on returning to Chicago, this year’s Bulls team winning without Derrick Rose and dealing with a groin injury (03.30.2012):

Audio—Pistons coach Lawrence Frank on Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls’ success without Derrick Rose (03.30.2012):

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