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Ex-Bulls guard Kyle Korver still keeps an eye on his former team

Bulls forward Luol Deng drives Atlantforward Kyle Korver first quarter Chicago Bulls-AtlantHawks NBA game Monday January 14 2013 United Center.

Bulls forward Luol Deng drives on Atlanta forward Kyle Korver in the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls-Atlanta Hawks NBA game Monday January 14, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 16, 2013 6:29AM



Kyle Korver might have had a very different response at this time last season.

Then again, that’s when the former Bulls sharpshooter was knee-deep in the grind-it-out coaching style of Tom Thibodeau. That’s when he would find himself and teammates doing close-out drill after close-out drill at a morning shootaround in ­Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, hours before tip-off.

Now with the Atlanta Hawks, Korver sounded like a guy that actually missed life with Thibodeau when he spoke to the media on Monday.

“The grass is always greener on the other side. Sometimes you’re like, ‘Man, we’ve got to do close-outs again? It’s Cleveland, it’s 20 degrees in this arena, we’re at shootaround.’ ’’ Korver said of his two seasons with the Bulls under Thibodeau. “You can’t argue with the final result at all, you just can’t. Thibs is a great coach, a very demanding coach, and he couldn’t coach every team because a lot of guys couldn’t take it, but they have a group in that locker room that can and that’s what makes them special. And they keep on finding guys that will, and I’m sure they will continue to do that.

“But if you get guys that will buy in you’re going to have a great ­defense, you’re going to grind every night, and that gets you far in this league.’’

Korver’s first game in the United Center since he was traded in the offseason wasn’t exactly what he hoped for, and it’s obvious the Hawks are trying to find their way. While that’s his first priority, he did admit to keeping an eye on the Bulls, specifically how life will change for them when injured star Derrick Rose returns from his ACL rehab.

According to Korver, while players such as Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer have stepped up in Rose’s absence, they might have to climb in that backseat once he returns.

“When you’re playing with Derrick, because he’s so good and because a lot of the offense is predicated on the point guard for them, you’re not as aggressive doing the other things,’’ Korver said. “You’re told ‘Do your job, do your job, do your job.’ ’’

Around the rim

Nate Robinson obviously doesn’t care what the Knicks’ Steve Novak was saying, as the Bulls guard is still doing the “belt celebration’’ after hitting a three-pointer. Then again, Novak stole it from Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

◆ Richard Hamilton, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Boozer and Noah are 13-7 when starting together this season.



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