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Tom Thibodeau misjudges Jimmy Butler effect

Updated: March 27, 2014 6:52AM



ATLANTA — Coach Tom Thibodeau likes to judge his players on how the team functions rather than on individual performance.

So when it was pointed out that the Bulls were 5-10 without Jimmy Butler, there seemed to be a contradiction.

‘‘Well, I think you’ve got to look at it deeper than that,’’ Thibodeau said Tuesday. ‘‘The beginning of the season when [Butler] was out, you’re looking at Luol [Deng] being out and Derrick [Rose] being out along with him. We have more than enough to win with, so to look at it that way is incorrect.’’

Not really. Butler first was sidelined Nov. 21 to Dec. 11. Deng didn’t go down until Dec. 7. As for Rose going down, the Bulls lost the game in Denver — before Rose’s injury in Portland — with Butler sitting on the bench with turf toe.

Besides, without Rose and Deng, the Bulls have played some of their best basketball, going 16-8.

Butler missed his second game with a rib injury and didn’t sound much closer to a return.

‘‘There’s been a little bit [of improvement], but with your ribs, it’s just tough,’’ Butler said. ‘‘You can’t move. You get hit, and it’s hard to breathe at times.’’

Pippen countersues

Former Bulls star Scottie Pippen filed a countersuit against Camran Shafighi, who alleged Pippen assaulted him last year outside a restaurant in Malibu, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reported.

Pippen, who didn’t face assault charges after an investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, alleged Shafighi used racial slurs, spat on him and said, ‘‘I’m going to kill you.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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