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Bulls guard John Lucas III says he is ‘not here by accident’

Luol Deng puts head fake Celtics’ Greg Stiemsmfirst quarter Thursday UC.  |  Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Luol Deng puts a head fake on the Celtics’ Greg Stiemsma in the first quarter Thursday at the UC. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 7, 2012 8:23AM

Derrick Rose is expected to return from a groin injury Sunday when the Bulls face the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, which means it’s back to the bench for John Lucas III. The third-string point guard proved during Rose’s absences that he belongs in the NBA, at least.

“I’m not here by accident,” Lucas said. “I proved I can play with the best. That was my whole goal, to show people I could play. People who said I was here because of my father, I didn’t want to hear any of that. Every night I step on that court I want to prove everybody wrong.”

Lucas III, the son of ex-NBA player and coach John Lucas, has been the biggest surprise of the Bulls’ season, although players and coaches say they have long known what he can do. He scored 25 points against the Wizards in his first NBA start. He scored 20 against Orlando and had 24, including a late-game, fade-away jumper over LeBron James, in a victory against Miami last month.

Lucas has been a bottom-of-the-roster player during his NBA career. He has also played in China, Spain and Italy.

“I don’t even think about stuff like that,” Lucas said when asked if he has earned a measure of security. “It’s a business. This league is crazy. I go out there and play like it’s my last game every game. I don’t care if we’re up by 30 or down by 40, I’m going to go hard no matter what.”

Need for speed

The Bulls offense has been struggling lately, which is why coach Tom Thibodeau wants more easy baskets and fast-break points.

“You can’t run by yourself,” Thibodeau said. “You need ­everybody to run and we’ve got to sustain our spacing on the break. We’ve got to get our energy back to how we run, how hard we run and to be able to do it for 48 minutes. We can’t pick and choose what we’re going to do. Every aspect of our offense — from our half-court execution, how hard you screen, how hard you cut, your ability to sustain your spacing through the second and third option — that’s what we have to do, particularly against good defenses.

“You have to try and attack them before they’re set and if they’re set, you’ve got to get them moving. You have to get the ball moving side to side. You have to get bodies moving and when we do that we’re hard to guard.”

MJ, Act IV

The Bulls signed veteran Mike James, 36, for the remainder of the season.

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