Bulls start well against Bobcats, while Tyrus has no fight


Apr 18

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No Derrick Rose and no Luol Deng Wednesday against the Bobcats, which raised the question about whether either would play in the second part of the back-to-back Thursday against the Heat.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau before Wednesday’s game, predictably, declined comment since the Bobcats appeared in his pregame report to somewhat resemble the ’96 Bulls.

But given there would be no practice before Thursday’s game, my guess is Rose definitely won’t play. The Bulls remain concerned with Rose having another new injury, and the sense I’ve gotten is they want to be conservative again like with his groin injury.

I can see Deng perhaps more likely playing, though it might make sense if his rib injury isn’t right to wait until back home Saturday against Dallas.

The game in Miami Thursday is a big one for both the Bulls and Heat, though not crucial. If the Bulls win, it pretty much assures home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. And that’s no small thing this season with Miami having difficulties winning on the road as they recently lost eight of 11 on the road. The Heat Wednesday at home against Toronto were resting Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But they said both would play Thursday against the Bulls.

It’s a big game for the Heat in a sense that even with winning the conference finals last season, they need to develop some confidence against the Bulls with the Bulls winning two, one without Rose and one last week when Rose had his poorest game as a pro.

The Bulls on Wednesday got off to a good start against the Bobcats, so impressive, in fact, that coach Tom Thibodeau was applauding his team after a C.J. Watson three when the ball whizzed inside, to the corner and back on top for Watson. It was the ball movement, unselfishness and edge Thibodeau had been calling for since the good win against Miami last week. The Bulls led 34-20 after one with Richard Hamilton and Joakim Noah each with 10 points. The Bulls extended that lead to 52-33 with about two minutes left in the first half. The Bulls were shooting almost 62 percent to 32.5 percent for the Bobcats at the time in a mostly lopsided debacle for the home team.

The story in Charlotte meanwhile, was former Bull Tyrus Thomas, whom Yahoo! Sports reported got into an altercation with coach Paul Silas after a loss to Boston Sunday. There were various versions of the story floating around Wednesday, that Thomas was fraternizing too much after the game on the court and was questioned by Silas and that Silas was generally addressing the team afterward and Thomas took it personally and demanded if the coach was talking about him.

The Bobcats said both were fined, and Thomas did enter the game late in the first quarter. He promptly fired up three shots that missed and was taken out. I assume he said, “Whatever.”

There was no visible reaction from the home crowd when Thomas went in, very few of whom seemed to be for Charlotte, anyway.

Thomas is averaging 5.6 points this season on 35.7 percent shooting and by most accounts has pretty much given up. He’s been in and out of the rotation all season for what may be the worst statistical team in NBA history.

Silas declined comment before the game saying, “I’m not commenting on anything (about that).”

But it apparently was a moment that would make you smile. Silas is 68, a kindly, grandfatherly man who has shown great patience in dealing with the rebuilding Bobcats.

But out of Creighton in a 16-year NBA career from 1964 to 1980 with mostly the Hawks, Suns and Celtics, Silas was one of the toughest and most feared defensive power forwards in a fewer holds barred era. The talk around the game then was that Silas was so tough he was the only guy Wilt Chamberlain didn’t want to mess around with.

However the altercation went, Thomas apparently came at Silas and Silas tossed Thomas across the room and into a locker space. It apparently was quickly stopped, Silas getting the TKO and Thomas enhancing his reputation around the game of being unable to muscle out a senior citizen, either.

The Bulls, by the way, received a No. 1 draft pick from Charlotte for Thomas. The Bulls will get the pick if the Bobcats make the playoffs anytime before 2016. If the Bulls don’t have it by then, the Bulls get it in 2016 unprotected.

The Bulls also got some nice news as the Euroleague Rising Star trophy to designate the best Euroleague player under 22 went to last year’s Bulls first round pick, Nikola Mirotic, for the second straight season. It was the first time there has been a repeat winner. Other winners of the award include Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Fernandez, Andrea Bargnani and Ricky Rubio, according to the Euroleague web site.

Playing for Real Madrid as its youngest regular, Mirotic led in performance rating and ranked among the team’s top three in scoring, shooting percentage from all ranges, rebounding, steals and fouls drawn. He also was the Euroleague’s best free throw shooter, making 56 of 61 for 91.8 percent. Because of commitments in Europe and the NBA salary structure, Mirotic is expected to remain in Europe at least two more seasons.

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