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Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s wish: Fourth-quarter consistency

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer is fouled by Thunder guard Thabo Sefoloshas he drives basket third quarter Chicago Bulls 94-89 wover

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer is fouled by Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha as he drives to the basket in the third quarter of the Chicago Bulls 94-89 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday October 23, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 26, 2012 7:19AM

That there are flashes of it is better than complete lifelessness.

That doesn’t change the fact that coach Tom Thibodeau is looking for consistency in the fourth quarter of games. Looking for the knockout punch, and more specifically, searching for players who can deliver it.

Just another reality of life without Derrick Rose for the time being, as the injured star is rehabbing his torn left anterior cruciate ligament.

The final quarters have been the concern for Thibodeau through the first six preseason contests and again showed itself Tuesday against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that was without stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

With now less than a week until the regular season, that was still Thibodeau’s focus on Wednesday.

“You got to know your job,’’ Thibodeau said of his team’s inconsistencies in the final 12 minutes of preseason games. “Know your job, do your job. You do that, you will be fine. You’re taking your shots, making the right plays, you’re going to live with the results. It’s the indecision that gets you into trouble.’’

And that indecision is how they’ve gotten bogged down.

Point guard Nate Robinson, one of the culprits of those lulls against the Thunder, called it growing pains.

“Each guy just doesn’t want to step on the other guy’s toes,’’ Robinson said. “So we’re still trying to get a feel of where guys like the ball on the court. Sometimes the ball stops a little bit, and we got to keep it hopping, like coach says. We’ll be OK.’’

When they have been “OK,’’ it’s been a very simple formula: Use their athleticism to push the ball up the court and create easy baskets, and use their high-intensity defense to get the ball back as quickly as possible.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to win without D-Rose, and from that perspective, it’s great we have this full training camp and games to figure out how we’re going to win without him,’’ forward Carlos Boozer said. “Then obviously when we get him back, we’ll see him get back to doing his thing. But what we’re doing this preseason is figuring out how to finish games without him.’’

As much as Bulls fans want to criticize the play of Boozer, he has been the leading scorer in back-to-back games and a big reason why they are 4-2 in exhibitions.

“Rip [Hamilton] has been one of the fastest guys in the league for a long time,’’ Boozer explained. “Kirk [Hinrich] does a great job of seeing the floor. Joakim [Noah] is like a power forward speed, maybe quicker than that, Taj [Gibson] the same way. I’m a little slower, but I’m working on my speed. Nate is super fast. One of our strengths is we have a lot of finishers on the floor. If we can push the ball in transition, make teams play against us in transition, it goes to our advantage.

“[Without Rose], we got to play fast. That’s our mentality, get easy baskets, play fast.’’

Until they reach that point?

“It’s still a work in progress,’’ Hamilton said. “The goal for any NBA team is to be playing your best basketball late, trying to get all the kinks out early. That’s the key.’’

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