Fresh ink: January 30, 2009

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Matt Becker of the Associated Press: “The Chicago Bulls haven’t won in Sacramento since Michael Jordan led them to their sixth NBA title. With the way the Kings are playing right now, Chicago may have its best opportunity to end that slide. After snapping their longest losing streak of the season their last time out, the Bulls look for their first victory in Sacramento in 11 years Friday when they visit the lowly Kings.”

John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “No player ever wants to miss an extended stretch because of injury, but sometimes sitting and watching can help a struggling player find a groove. That appears to have happened in the case of Bulls forward Luol Deng, who sat out eight games with a sprained left ankle and and has emerged from his early-season funk since returning to action 2½ weeks ago. ‘I think it did help,’ Deng said Thursday of his time on the shelf. ‘I think it was just the time period, having a new system, new coaches, a new style and everything. I think it took me a while, it took me longer than I thought.'”

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “As the Bulls play their next-to-last game of the month, [Luol] Deng will attempt to continue the pace he has set in the nine games since he returned from a sprained left ankle. In January, Deng leads the Bulls with 17.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and, perhaps most tellingly, 1.89 steals per game. He also is shooting 50 percent this month. ‘I’m better when I’m moving without the ball and the ball is moving,’ Deng said. ‘I don’t like taking shots out of rhythm. And sometimes when we take quick shots, it affects the way I’m playing.'”

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “Team captain Kirk Hinrich surveyed the scene as the noisy workout ended and the players began shooting free throws. ‘We had a good practice today,’ he said. ‘Our practice habits have gotten better the last few weeks.’ Coach Vinny Del Negro mentioned the same thing recently. Asked why that happened, Hinrich suggested a few different reasons. ‘I think coach just told us, we need to have better practice sessions,’ Hinrich said. ‘I think you have to come out here and compete. Obviously, there are days you rest your legs. But when we come in here, compete and work on what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively. It’s been good when we’ve done that.'”

More Mike McGraw from the Daily Herald: “Early this season, Rose’s jumper to be seemed much better than advertised. He rarely missed when he pulled up off the dribble. But the jumper took a vacation the last three weeks or so. He’d knock one down every once in awhile, just not with any regularity until it reappeared at the Staples Center. Asked after the game if he felt like he was in a shooting slump, Rose basically agreed. ‘I didn’t think about it,’ he said. ‘But just thinking about it now (after the question), I was missing for a while. Tonight it was just clicking.’

Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune: “Let me get this right: The general manager of the Phoenix Suns had a coaching opening last summer and he had Vinny Del Negro under contract and he said Del Negro is ‘a really bright guy. Very smart and very hard-working” — and the general manager of the Phoenix Suns gave the job to someone else. Why? Because Del Negro has never coached at any level and, Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr says, Del Negro is ‘going through what everybody has to go through at the beginning of their career.” Yeah, and Kerr made sure that the Suns wouldn’t go through it the way Chicago is. What the Bulls did to their fans just gets more insulting.”

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