Derrick Rose out, but ‘D’ is a constant for Bulls
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media October 28, 2012 8:00PM
Carlos Boozer, Kendrick Perkins
Updated: November 30, 2012 6:24AM
Before Derrick Rose tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the playoffs, coach Tom Thibodeau’s resilient Bulls already had a history of overcoming key injuries.
Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were hurt in 2010-11, and Rose missed games with other ailments last season before the knee injury. But thanks to his defensive system, Thibodeau’s expectations never wavered.
The Bulls realize they aren’t the same offensively without Rose, but Thibodeau has proved he can take almost any five guys and form a tough defensive unit.
“We need our entire team to have a multiple-effort mentality,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a five-man defense. So you need everybody doing more than one thing, and when we do that, we can be pretty good.’’
Thibodeau focused Sunday on refining the defense as the Bulls started preparing for their regular-season opener Wednesday at home against the Sacramento Kings.
Of course, defense breeds offense, especially for the Bulls, who emphasize scoring in transition.
The Bulls want to be active in the passing lanes to get deflections and turnovers, which will help them get out on the fast break. That was a particular emphasis.
“The big thing is the use of our hands,” Thibodeau said. “When we’re active with our hands, we get a lot of deflections, and it gets us into the open floor and just finishing off our defense.”
The key for the Bulls will be how quickly they can become that five-man defense.
With a roster overhaul this season, the Bulls brought in players to fill numerous roles.
Newcomers Kirk Hinrich and Nazr Mohammed are known as defensive-minded players but still are going through an adjustment period as they learn an intricate defensive scheme.
“Guys have integrated us new guys pretty well, teaching us the defensive principles and the things we need to do on the floor,” Mohammed said.
“We’ve still got some terminology that we’re learning, but overall I think it’s been pretty solid.”
After a 5-2 preseason, the Bulls’ confidence is high on the defensive end.
If they play well defensively, they think they can beat anyone.
But the refinement process is ongoing.
“We still got a lot of stuff we’ve got to get better on,” Luol Deng said. “It’s preseason. We played well in our preseason, but we don’t measure anything off that.
“That’s how you win, team defense. You don’t win individually. We’ve always been a defensive team, and that’s our mind-set going into every game — to play the best defense we can.”
NOTE: Taj Gibson can’t wait for Wednesday’s deadline to pass. He and the Bulls have until then to negotiate a contract extension. Gibson is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason.
He addressed the situation in the wake of a blockbuster trade that sent James Harden, who was in a similar situation, from Oklahoma City to Houston.
“[I’m] just getting tired of getting asked questions about it, people worrying about it,” Gibson said. “I just want to get back to playing basketball, focusing on the season and helping this team win games.”