Fresh ink: April 2, 2009

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Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “The Bulls returned home from an 0-2 road trip needing a refresher course at finishing school. Sunday at Toronto, the Raptors shot 55.6 percent in overtime and went to the free-throw line four times to none for the Bulls. The Raptors made all four and won 134-129. Tuesday at Indiana, the Pacers outscored the Bulls 11-2 in the final 3:36 to win 107-105. Indiana shot eight free throws to the Bulls’ two in the final five minutes. ‘We could have done a better job,’ said Kirk Hinrich, who missed the last two free throws at Indiana with three minutes left and the Bulls up 103-98. ‘[The referees] were letting it be real physical. I guess we had to be tough enough to still be effective offensively when they were letting them do that out there.’ … The pain of the Bulls’ numerous close losses will linger through the summer if they miss the playoffs. The Bulls (36-40) are 2-6 in overtime and have lost 10 games by five points or fewer. They lead Charlotte by 1½ games for the final playoff spot after the Bobcats lost in double overtime Wednesday night at Boston. ‘It’s disturbing,’ said Ben Gordon, who missed a 26-footer with 1.5 seconds left Tuesday. ‘We’ve been doing a poor job of closing games out all year. [It] was a game we definitely needed. It was a winnable game. It was definitely disappointing.’”

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “He’s a leading candidate for NBA Rookie of the Year. Everyone from LeBron James to Chris Paul has praised his play. Everyone from Doc Rivers to Phil Jackson has lauded his demeanor. So, Derrick Rose, how would you grade your rookie season? ‘I’d probably go with a B or B-minus,’ Rose says — without a smile. ‘We haven’t won enough and I’ve committed too many turnovers.’ Ah, yes, those pesky 2.5 turnovers per game. Those are what stand out to Rose beyond his 16.6 points, 6.2 assists and 47 percent shooting. Rose’s humility has been well documented, leading to some hilarious understatements. Perhaps one favorite was Rose’s recent answer when asked if he thinks he should win Rookie of the Year: ‘Only if we make the playoffs because I’ve just played OK.’”

Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune: “When the Bulls take a timeout, first-year head coach Vinny Del Negro is not reticent when it comes to deferring to the opinions of assistants Bernie Bickerstaff and Del Harris. After all, Bickerstaff, 65, and Harris, 71, have won coaching accolades during their NBA careers. ‘They’ve been great,’ Del Negro said. ‘Being a young coach in this league, you want to have as much experience around you as you can. They’ve helped me tremendously in a lot of ways. But my whole staff: Bob Ociepka, Mike Wilhelm, Pete Myers … everyone involved really has been a positive influence for me.’”

Kathy Bergen of the Chicago Tribune: “The images that Chicago will serve up to international Olympics officials in the coming week are changing by the hour, with an appearance by Michael Jordan and yet another community protest among the recent additions. Long-expected to play a role in Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics, basketball legend Jordan finally brings his megawatt smile to a promotional video unveiled at a news conference Wednesday at Douglas Park, an Olympic venue site on the West Side. ‘The Olympic spirit — it’s alive in Chicago,’ His Airness says in the video. ‘We’re ready.’ The former Chicago Bulls star, who played for the U.S. team that won gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, will not make a personal appearance during the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission’s visit, which begins Thursday. But he will be more engaged as the bid enters its final months, said Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan.”

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