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Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau surprised by Lovie’s firing, has high praise

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau looks for call go Bulls way fourth quarter Chicago Bulls 94-89 loss L.A. Clippers Tuesday

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau looks for a call to go the Bulls way in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls 94-89 loss to the L.A. Clippers Tuesday December 11, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 2, 2013 6:25AM



Tom Thibodeau knows that one day his name will be part of the daily sports transaction wire — whether it’s due to his firing or resignation.

“The nature of the beast, I guess,’’ Thibodeau said on Monday.

The latest to fall victim to that “beast’’ was Bears coach Lovie Smith. And while Thibodeau never met Smith since taking over as Bulls coach three years ago, he knew of Smith’s reputation.

“I watched him from afar and think he’s a great coach,’’ Thibodeau said. “I’m saddened to hear it. He had a great run. You know, 10-6 [record this year], I thought they got the most out of the team. It’s the unfortunate part of the business and you hate to see it.

“[Boston Celtics coach] Doc Rivers knows Lovie and has always spoken highly of him. I watched their teams play, they always played hard. It’s sad.’’

Smith isn’t the first head coach Thibodeau has been asked to comment on, just the latest. And the first non-NBA related firing this season.

Thibodeau talked freely about Mike Brown being let go by the Lakers early in the season, and more recently about Avery Johnson being fired by the Nets.

The news that Smith was fired on Monday morning was another reminder of how fragile head coaching positions are.

“Yeah, it’s pro sports, it’s unfortunate,’’ Thibodeau added. “Lovie has proven to be a terrific coach and he seems like a great guy, so you hate to see anyone lose their job.’’

Hinrich out

Starting point guard Kirk Hinrich missed his fourth game of the season on Monday, with Thibodeau describing it as a “compilation of things.’’ Hinrich has suffered multiple injuries going back to the start of training camp, but according to one Bulls source, it’s the left knee that remains a problem for the veteran.

He suffered the injury in mid-December and missed two games because of it. As far as his status for Wednesday’s game in Orlando, Thibodeau said Hinrich is “day-to-day.’’

Numbers game

The Bulls have held opponents to 80 points or fewer five times this season, and have a 4-1 record in those games.

† The Bulls will take a 6-1 road record against the Eastern Conference into Wednesday night’s game at Orlando.

† The Bulls are now 2-2 in games that Nate Robinson has started at point guard.



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