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Bulls prefer rhythm over rest

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first-round pairings

EAStern Conference

(1) Pacers vs. (8) Hawks

(2) Heat vs. (7) Bobcats

(3) Raptors vs. (6) Nets

(4) Bulls vs. (5) Wizards

WEstern Conference

(1) Spurs vs. (8) Mavericks

(2) Thunder vs. (7) Grizzlies

(3) Clippers vs. (6) Warriors

(4) Rockets vs. (5) Trail Blazers

scoring leaders

(through Tuesday’s games)

1. Kevin Durant, Thunder 31.9

2. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks 27.4

3. LeBron James, Heat 27.1

4. Kevin Love, Timberwolves 26.2

5. James Harden, Rockets 25.4

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Suddenly, all the complaints about coach Tom Thibodeau and the pacing of his team died down as the regular season ended.

His starters’ minutes haven’t been as extreme, and, more significant, the Bulls aren’t crawling into the playoffs held together by gum and tape.

“Well, we had a lot of injuries early on,’’ Thibodeau said Wednesday.

“Sometimes you have no control over that. That contributed heavily to getting off to a slow start. Guys didn’t have their rhythm.

‘‘I think it’s important to be as healthy as you can be going down the stretch. We had a lot of injuries, maybe more so than in any other year, at the beginning of the season.’’

And that had nothing to do with minutes as much as bad luck.

The Bulls prefer having the minutes under their belts going into the postseason instead of resting the last few games of the regular season. Call it rhythm over rest.

“You look at our record when we get three days off, and we always come back and lay an egg that first game back,’’ forward Taj Gibson said.

“I’ve been on just one team, been lucky enough to be on one team my whole career, and this is what we’re used to, this is how we handle it.

‘‘We just take care of our bodies, and [Thibodeau] knows how to keep us away from overpracticing sometimes.

‘‘We play hard all the time, but we understand what’s at stake. We want to keep our rhythm.’’

Around the rim

Guard D.J. Augustin was back in his rotation spot after missing the game Monday for the birth of his first son.

He joked about how he had to deal with name requests from outsiders.

“I thought about [naming him] Thibs; I thought about Gar [ Forman ],’’ Augustin said. “[Jimmy Butler has] been asking me to name him Jimmy.

‘‘I gave them all consideration, but I had to go with Darryl.’’

† Former Bulls great Michael Jordan was in attendance to watch his Bobcats play his former team.

He even stopped in Thibodeau’s office for a chat before the game.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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