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Bulls’ bench players no longer ‘Mobsters’ of the Midway

Center Nazr Mohammed (48) remains confident thBulls’ reserves will sacrifice for team become formidable unit. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Center Nazr Mohammed (48) remains confident that the Bulls’ reserves will sacrifice for the team and become a formidable unit. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Mavericks AT BULLS

The facts: 7, CSN, 1000-AM.

Updated: December 29, 2012 6:27AM

The “Bench Mob’’ is dead. It has been dead for quite some time.

Luol Deng just decided to give the eulogy Tuesday.

“Honestly, I don’t know what was expected,’’ Deng said after practice at the Berto Center. “I don’t know if you guys expected exactly the same bench. That ‘Bench Mob’ was great. We won a lot of games because of them. But they’re gone.

“Some of them are struggling with their new teams, some of them are doing well, but this is a new team. Not every team is going to be about a ‘Bench Mob.’ I’ve been here nine years, and every year has a different story.’’

In the wake of blowing a 27-point third-quarter lead Monday in the 93-92 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the blame game was in full swing.

Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson were the only reserves who played, and they combined for just 10 points, so the bench remained the easy target for a fan base that had been spoiled with Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer the previous two seasons.

But at least one member of the new-look bench refused to get discouraged. Nazr Mohammed agreed with Deng that this year was a different story, but he said as soon as the reserves can come to grips with their roles, the team will benefit.

“That’s part of the sacrifice of playing basketball or team sports in general,’’ Mohammed said of the bench mentality. “Everybody wants to be on the floor; everybody wants to play the whole game; everybody has this picture in their mind of how much they should be playing. You have to understand that you have to wait your turn and figure out what sacrifices you have to make toward the group.’’

Mohammed isn’t the type of player to name names and didn’t even say there were specific players at fault. It was more about warning his fellow reserves that the team is bigger than any of them.

“The thing about it is there’s no correct science to it, no formula that says it takes a couple of games for us to click, it takes 15 or 20, whatever,’’ Mohammed said. “It’s kind of a process that some guys click and catch on faster than others, and some take longer. It also takes sacrifice. Sacrifice is what forms the cohesiveness of a good team. What you may do best may not be best for the team. So we have to figure out what sacrifices we have to make to fit into the group.’’

In February, the bench likely could change anyway. That’s when Kirk Hinrich would go from starter to reserve to make room for the return of Derrick Rose.

But the Bulls can’t afford to wait that long. The minutes are piling up for the starters, and they need consistency from the bench now. Mohammed hopes it will be sooner rather than later.

“We’re still going through the process,’’ he said.

“It’s a lot of new faces on that bench, so we’re far from being the type of bench we want to be by the end of the year.’’

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