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Bulls take aim at season sweep of Knicks
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Apr 10
With the NBA season very much in its stretch run, the Bulls will play four out of their remaining five games in the next five days beginning Thursday night.
That’s when the streaking New York Knicks, winners of 13 straight games, will be at the United Center as seeds for the Eastern Conference playoffs begin to take form.
Whether or not Chicago, currently fifth in the East and positioned for a potential first round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, is able to hold their ground or improve will likely depend on the team’s health.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau reported Richard Hamilton, who returned to action Tuesday against Toronto after missing 19 games with lower back issues, was fine after participating in Wednesday’s practice at the Berto Center, which was more of a walk through with stretching, exercises, shooting and a film session.
As for Luol Deng (right hip) and Taj Gibson (left knee), Thibodeau said they are day-to-day, while Joakim Noah (right foot) and Derrick Rose (left knee) remain out.
“We’ll see [Thursday],” said Thibodeau of Deng and Gibson. “Hopefully they improve. When guys are ready to go, they’ll go. That’s the way we’re going approach it.”
Thursday will mark the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between Chicago and New York. Though the Knicks come to town with the second best record in the conference at 51-26, the Bulls are looking for their first season sweep of the Knicks since the 2004-05 season.
“We’ve had an edge every time we’ve played them, competed for 48 minutes, and found a way to win,” said Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich. “We just need to find that. Defensively, we haven’t been good as of late and we’re going to have to be great [Thursday].”
Though Carmelo Anthony, the NBA’s leading scorer at 28.6 points per game, scored 39 in the last meeting on Jan. 11, Deng countered with 33 points to lead the Bulls to a 108-101 victory at Madison Square Garden.
“It has to be a team effort,” Hinrich said of facing Anthony. “He’s going to get his shots and get his points. We just have to try to do the best job we can on him.”
“He can score so many different ways,” Thibodeau said of Anthony. “He can shoot, post and drive. He knows how to get a shot and how to get away from defenses, how to read them. Guys like that get into a rhythm and they’re hard to stop.”
It was two weeks ago when a Miami Heat team with 27 consecutive victories under its belt came to the United Center and left with a loss. But just as the Bulls downplayed the significance of snapping a streak then, putting an end to the Knicks’ current run offers would come with no additional satisfaction.
“I think the satisfaction would be to beat the New York Knicks,” said Hinrich. “They’re a great team. We just want to be playing better basketball.”
Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau meets the media following practice (04.10.2013):
Audio—Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich meets the media following practice (04.10.2013):