For Bulls, getting-to-know-you time is about over
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media October 29, 2012 8:34PM
Bulls guard Nate Robinson leads the break in the first half of the Chicago Bulls 100-94 win over the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday October 16, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: December 1, 2012 4:24PM
Time is running out on the Bulls.
The team has had nearly a month of training camp and seven preseason games for returning players and offseason signees to get acclimated to one another. Unfamiliarity no longer will be an excuse with the regular-season opener against the Sacramento Kings set for Wednesday.
Coach Tom Thibodeau hinted as much after a disappointing 86-83 preseason loss Oct. 12 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Champaign. He hesitated to use it as an excuse even then, saying the best teams in the league are those that deal with change most effectively.
Guard Nate Robinson, who signed with the Bulls this offseason and will play for his fifth NBA team when he takes the court Wednesday against the Kings, was able to simplify the adjustment process.
‘‘Guys know how to play basketball; that’s a given,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘So for us, we just go out and play.
‘‘Some games we’re not going to play as good in as others, and we’ve just got to play through it. Play through adversity, and we’ll be OK.’’
Naturally, the Bulls won’t have reached their full potential by Wednesday. As the season progresses, they’ll have more practice time together. Like anything, they’ll get better over time.
But it is expected that they will be familiar with one another and Thibodeau’s schemes. Do that, and the Bulls think they’ll be able to beat anyone.
‘‘There’s things you could always improve upon,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘So whether they’re new guys or old guys, they’re our guys, and everyone is responsible to put everything they have into every day.
‘‘Some things we’re doing well, some things not so well. The big thing is to be consistent. Each and every day, do the same things and be a 48-minute team.’’
As expected defense has been the Bulls’ anchor this preseason. The Bulls ended the monthlong dress rehearsal on a four-game winning streak and didn’t allow a team to score 100 points all preseason.
Veteran guard Kirk Hinrich said he and the other newcomers were easily able to fit into Thibodeau’s defensive scheme.
‘‘We’ve made some great strides in the preseason, and we’re going to have to, as the season goes along, do the same thing,’’ Hinrich said. ‘‘It starts Wednesday, and we’re going to prepare, do everything we can. Then moving along the whole year, we’re going to try to keep improving.’’
When star Derrick Rose will return from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee is unknown. But if he were able to come back around midseason, he would be a greater factor if the Bulls were in the middle of a playoff race.
‘‘We’re a capable group, and we’re capable of winning games,’’ center Joakim Noah said. ‘‘So we just want to make the city proud and keep fighting every day to get better, and then it’s going to be exciting when Derrick comes back. So for right now, it’s on us to hold the fort down.’’