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With Derrick Rose in command, Bulls’ ‘O’ has different crispness

Updated: October 11, 2013 1:41PM



RIO DE JANEIRO — There’s a reason Joakim Noah dubbed Derrick Rose the “joker.’’

Rose is the wild card, the difference between the second round of the playoffs and a possible June trip to the NBA Finals.

All the talk about coach Tom Thibodeau’s new-look read-and-react offense this preseason is meaningless unless Noah and the rest of the players have that “joker’’ to put down on the table at crunch time.

“Everyone will have opportunities in this offense,’’ Noah said. “It’s an offense where everyone gets to touch the ball. But our joker is back in D-Rose, and the more comfortable he gets offensively, the more it opens up the game for us, so we’re well aware of that.’’

Thursday was Day 2 of the Bulls in Brazil ahead of the preseason game Saturday against the Washington Wizards, and it was obvious in their offensive sets that when Rose is the pilot, there’s a different crispness.

“Definitely,’’ Noah said.

Rose knows that as he goes, the team goes, but this training camp is still all about getting him rust-free. That’s why he thinks the offense is still a work in progress.

“Yeah, it’s the beginning of the season,’’ Rose said. “Everything is a little bit rusty. Our defense is better than our offense right now, been able to get steals, get into the open court. We’ve been getting to the line a lot these last two games. Offensively, we’ll get that, but defense is nothing but effort.’’

Thibodeau has explained his decision to tweak the offense this season because of a veteran core ready to take on a bit more, but it’s no coincidence that it mirrors what the San Antonio Spurs have done for years, and that offense gave the Miami Heat fits in the Finals last season.

The Bulls’ bigs love it because Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson can make the mid-range jumper, and Boozer and Noah are good passers.

“I feel pretty good [shooting],’’ Noah said.

“I’ve been working at it very hard. I just have to keep going, and if I’m open, let it fly.’’

The nice thing for the Bulls is that with a longer-than-usual training camp, time is on their side to clean up the offense.

“It’s coming,’’ Kirk Hinrich said. “We’ve had some good stretches and bad stretches in the preseason. We’re not expected to be at an Eastern Conference finals level. We’ve played two preseason games, had a handful of practices.

“Thibs talks about it every day, and it’s pretty truthful, just not getting bored with the process. Every day take something out of it and move in the right direction.’’

Easier to do with a joker up the sleeve.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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