Bulls lineup guessing game continues


Jan 29

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There’s an old TV game show named “Which Bulls Are Going To Play Tonight?”

Good luck, contestants.

“Jo is feeling better today,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said at the morning practice and medical reevaluation. “We’ll see how he does in the shootaround. Kirk is going through shootaround. We’ll see where they are tonight. Both guys are feeling a lot better.”

That would be Joakim Noah, who missed Monday’s loss to Minnesota because of illness, and Kirk Hinrich, who missed the last four games with a hamstring injury.

Noah actually said he wasn’t feeling all that much improved, likening his state to a form or organic fertilizer.

Noah was queried about what exactly was wrong, perhaps viral?

"The main thing about Jo is he brings it every game," said Hinrich of Noah. "He’s a great rebounder, and he’s a great passer, which is rare for a guy his size. The things he does for us speak volumes.”

“The main thing about Jo is he brings it every game,” said Hinrich of Noah. “He’s a great rebounder, and he’s a great passer, which is rare for a guy his size. The things he does for us speak volumes.”

“You’re not a doctor, man,” Noah offered after earlier saying he didn’t fell all that much like dancing. “I feel like (manure).”

This was not a picture anyone much wanted to explore further. So the discussion was dropped. This is generally referred to in media explanation as “flu-like symptoms,” though the public calls it “the flu.”

As the Bulls gained 50 degrees by going to San Antonio and still weren’t getting much above 38 degrees, any sort of unusual body reaction was not inappropriate. Santa Anna may not have wanted the Alamo mission so badly had the temperatures been similar back then. Of course, he could have been distracted these days by the Alamo McDonalds around the corner.

Noah estimated his playing possibility as “50-50,” showing he is better at math than Yogi Berra, who had estimated the game 90 percent mental and the other half physical.

Noah looked like someone who would be playing.

He’s also looking like someone who will be selected by the coaches in voting announced 6 p.m. Thursday on TNT to go to his second consecutive NBA All-Star Game.

Noah didn’t want to talk much about it, saying he was just trying to get back to full health to play and help the team as it begins a tough six-game Western Conference road trip. The Bulls are 3-10 in San Antonio since Michael Jordan retired and 10-28 since Texas became a state.

But others were glad to talk about Noah’s All-Star prospects. Hinrich, who doesn’t wear shock much on his face, agreed he would be if Noah were left off the team.

“Jo’s come a long way,” said Hinrich. “I was with him when he was a rookie. We knew he had the talent. He’s matured so much. The main thing about Jo is he brings it every game. He’s a great rebounder, and he’s a great passer, which is rare for a guy his size. The things he does for us speak volumes.”

For others as well. The Bulls have one of the better groups of people as you rarely hear of internal issues. And it’s clear in the way they compete. When teams arrive at their hotels on the road or go to their buses in public areas, there generally are fans standing waiting for autographs. Many are there to get an autograph and try to sell it. The players understand, and also there are security concerns. Plus, they are on schedules. So they don’t always stop to chat. Noah often will be one of the players to stop, especially when kids are there, to pose for a picture or sign something. His big heart extends way beyond the basketball court.

Hinrich would do so as well. But no one knows who he is.

Actually, he is very cooperative.

“They thought it would be five to seven days, somewhere in there,” Thibodeau said about Hinrich’s return. “If he is ready to go he’ll go. If he needs another day that’s what we’ll do.”

Though Hinrich sounded like he wanted to give it a try Wednesday for at least a bit of time, the team does have two days off after the Spurs game before three in four nights in New Orleans, Sacramento and Phoenix. So they might elect to hold Hinrich out one more game.

Thibodeau also said he expects Noah to be added to the All-Star team and that he believes this is Noah’s best season. Noah is averaging 11.7 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists with double figure rebounding his last 16 games.

“I think his performance speaks for itself,” said Thibodeau. “He’s had a great season so far. I think he’s very deserving. More importantly, what is he is doing for our team. He’s been a great leader and playing both sides of the ball. He’s grown quite a bit. His playmaking has been (excellent). His defense always has been there. He’s a much more complete player now.”

The Bulls also will see former teammate Marco Belinelli, who is leading the league in three point shooting among players with more than 100 attempts. Though the Spurs are counting players as well with Manu Ginobili hurt in Tuesday’s loss to Houston and joining Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter injured.

As for the Bulls, it’s also another beginning as the team heads into the second half of the season .500.

“A lot of ups and downs,” Noah said of the first half. “I think we’re fighting. We’re competing. We’ve got to keep grinding. Keep our mindset on improvement and hopefully have a better second half. I’m excited. I think we can be even better.”

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