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Bulls confronting Indiana’s board monster
by Sam Smith
Posted on Nov 6
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There used to be this 1960’s TV show which you can still find on reruns, the Munsters, about a curious family led by a gentle Frankenstein sort of family head who thumped around somewhat awkwardly in heavy boots.
No, it wasn’t Pacers center Roy Hibbert.
But Indiana’s somewhat deliberate 7-2 center suddenly has become a center of attention, a monster on the boards and in the lane and certainly for the Bulls as they face the undefeated Indiana Pacers Wednesday night.
“Just try to be aggressive,” Joakim Noah said of Hibbert, who is leading the NBA with more than five blocks per game. “Try to front his big (butt) as much as possible and make him run around.”
It’s a plan, and it likely will help determine whether the Bulls can pull themselves out of their early season slump against the league’s only undefeated team.
A lot of that with the Pacers is due to their developing star, Paul George, who is second in the league in scoring at 27 per game. But it’s suddenly become a Pacers’ team built around Hibbert’s defensive play as the Pacers are No. 1 in the NBA in fewest points allowed, No. 1 in opponent’s shooting and second to Golden State in point differential. The early season has the Pacers the East’s most dominant team, and much due to Hibbert’s interior defense.
Which was a point of discussion as the Bulls had a morning shootaround in Indianapolis.
“Attack,” said Derrick Rose. “Make him do his job. He’s going to have to beat my shot five or six times. It’s not going to stop me from going into the lane and trying to get fouled.”
Which may not help Rose’s 29 percent shooting, but you play shot blockers by going into them. And then hopefully getting the call.
It seems Rose got a call of another kind. From the NBA.
Rose was the latest victim of the NBA’s fashion police, who generally govern standards of uniform dress and undoubtedly have Noah’s private number.
Rose said the league informed him he could not wear the tape on his neck he wore previously for a sore neck issue. Not uniform, apparently.
“I think the NBA told me I got to stop,” Rose said sheepishly before practice. “So I probably won’t be able to wear it tonight. I don’t even want to get into that (the reason). I don’t know. I swear I don’t know.”
Added Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “They’re pretty strict on what they allow and what they don’t allow. So that’s just the way it is.”
It’s hardly unusual as the league studies film of every game to monitor if anyone is wearing anything not conforming with the uniform. At least apparently whether it’s something the league can sell.
For the Bulls, it’s Thibodeau selling the team on a serious attitude on playing the Pacers. Of which he should have no trouble as several players were at the arena long before the scheduled morning workout for extra shooting practice.
“They have great length, tied together, physical,” said Thibodeau of the Pacers. “So you have to be ready for that. You have to move their size, try to take them out of the lane and attack from there. But they do a great job of protecting the rim. They’re playing their game. Their defense has been terrific, the shotblocking. I think George has gone to another level. (Lance) Stephenson’s really playing at a high level and Hibbert is really playing his role perfectly.”
Which comes back to the Bulls’ players playing their roles.
“I think just seeing shots fall,” Rose said about changing the team’s early season shooting woes. “We haven’t been in a game where all our shots fell or we shot a good percentage. Just getting that confidence and taking the shots when they present themselves.
“I thought I was going to come in and pick right back up,” said Rose. “I know this is just the beginning stage. Trust me, I could care less about it. I’m not going to change the way that I play or just think about my shots. I know that I put too much work into my game and I know that it’s going to come to me.”
Similarly with Noah, who has worked his way in after missing much of the preseason.
“I feel pretty good,” Noah said. “I’m grinding every day. That’s all I can do. I’m working hard every day, trying to get better. I’ll be ready for tonight. I missed a lot of time. But I’m working every day to get better. I know I can play better. There’s nothing that replicates playing in an NBA game. No treadmill, running on the side, the bike. All of those things are great conditioning. But there’s nothing that replicates that contact. We’re in the fire right now. We have a big game tonight against a very good team. They’re the only undefeated team in the NBA. We’re trying to get out of a bad loss. It would be nice to beat them tonight.”