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Rookie guard Marquis Teague gaining respect of the Bulls

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphi76ers

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers

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Updated: January 15, 2013 11:40AM



Someday Bulls teammates will call Marquis Teague by his given name.

Not today. Not even after his best performance of the season in Wednesday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

No, he’s still ‘‘Rook.’’

Teague registered six points and four assists, played quality defense against 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday and recorded nine of his 20-plus minutes in a pressure-filled fourth quarter on the road.

Still, being called “Rook’’ is better than being ignored like he was at the start if the season.

“That’s the best part, because that automatically puts a smile on your face,’’ Bulls second-year reserve Jimmy Butler said of Teague’s latest showing. “I mean, everybody is talking about it in the locker room — you’re gaining trust in your teammates. That means you’re gaining confidence, and that’s what he needs.

“Last year for me, games like that, I was able to say, ‘OK, I belong in this league.’ That’s all you look for.’’

And for one night, Teague found it.

With Kirk Hinrich down with a knee injury and Nate Robinson struggling with Holiday’s speed, coach Tom Thibodeau leaned on the first-round pick out of Kentucky.

It wasn’t the first time this season, with Teague getting a similar look against Boston on Nov. 12. But the results were much different this time around. Specifically, a win that Teague helped grab.

“Just the way the game was going,’’ Thibodeau said, explaining why he went with Teague in crunch time. ‘‘I thought that unit was playing well on the floor. I thought his quickness — I mean, when you’re dealing with the speed and quickness of Holiday, I thought he could match up with that speed.

‘‘[Holiday’s] an elite point guard, and I thought Marquis did all he could to try and get over screens, try and get in front of the ball, hustle, and I thought that was important.’’

What was important for Teague was not only his defense and six points, but the fact that Thibodeau called his number in the final quarter. The way Teague sees it, being a rookie, he’s the weak link on the roster. If he shows he can put quality time in, the entire team benefits from it.

“That’s the name of the game — you’re only going to be as good as your weakest player,’’ Teague said. “You want to be able to go over to the bench, grab any player and have confidence in them. The deeper we are, the better it is for us.’’

Butler agreed.

“I don’t feel like we have any weak players,’’ Butler said. “I feel like everyone is confident in their game. Our teammates are confident in the next guy’s game.’’

So what’s next for Teague? Well, Hinrich’s knee injury doesn’t seem serious, so he’ll likely be back on the edge of the bench, hoping to have a few minutes tossed his way here and there.

And of course he’s still bringing lotion and soap for his teammates on a daily basis. That won’t change anytime soon, “Rook.’’



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