Fresh ink: Sunday, January 18, 2009

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Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “The prognosis did not look promising for the Bulls pulling off their first three-game winning streak since April 2007. But the Bulls did make a stand, erasing a 9-point fourth-quarter deficit to take the lead with just over three minutes remaining. But some vintage Spurs defense turned things around late, and San Antonio escaped with a 92-87 victory. ‘They executed down the stretch and we didn’t,’ Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. ‘If we play that hard and make some adjustments, that’s definitely an improvement for us.’”

Nick Hut of the Northwest Herald: “The Bulls played the San Antonio Spurs almost evenly before losing, 92-87, at the United Center. The game capped a respectable week for a team trying to find its way. The Bulls won at Toronto and against Cleveland, the team with the NBA’s best record at the time, before coming up short Saturday night. ‘We did some good things and hopefully got ourselves going in the right direction somewhat,’ forward Drew Gooden said. ‘But no one’s interested in moral victories right now, and we had a great opportunity tonight.’”

Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “The Bulls (18-23) didn’t attempt a free throw for 38 minutes. Drew Gooden (11 points) gave the Bulls their last lead, 82-81, with a three-point play with 3:13 left. Gooden made a hook shot over Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who committed the foul. Gooden’s free throw was the Bulls’ first since Tyrus Thomas split a pair with 5:41 left in the first quarter. Derrick Rose, who made only six of his 21 shots, didn’t go to the line. He often complained to the referees that he had been fouled on drives to the hoop. ‘[Not getting the calls] entered my mind, but I’m not the refs; I’m used to it now,’ said Rose, who had 15 total free-throw attempts in the five previous games. ‘I just have to find the guy, somewhere get body contact with him and try to finish. I thought they made the right calls.’”

Al Hamnik of The Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times: “To the Bulls’ rookie coach, Vinny Del Negro, those six seasons he spent in San Antonio, the final two with Gregg Popovich, helped prepare him for his current post. They were reunited Saturday night at the United Center, and it was hugs and smiles all around, despite their respective teams being headed in different directions in the standings. ‘He knows there’s gonna be bumps in the road,’ said Popovich, a 1966 Merrillville grad. ‘That’s one thing (NBA) players who become coaches probably know better than college coaches who come in. There’s lots of moments in the season when confidence levels are high, low, there’s bumps, bad times, good times. Vinny knows things take time.’”

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “‘This year I don’t think we’ve been as structured as we were under Scott [Skiles],” [Ben] Gordon said Sunday after practice. ‘It’s up to guys like me, Kirk and Lu to bring that back if we see it lacking. That’s why we’ve been so up-and-down this season. We have to get back to playing the right way, listening to what the game says. If the game says pass, pass it. If you’re open, shoot the ball. [Coach Vinny Del Negro] gives us a lot of freedom, especially on the perimeter. Sometimes you can get carried away and abuse it. We have to be more cognizant of valuing every possession.’”

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: [Drew] Gooden’s production and persistence, not to mention his expiring contract, should make him an attractive asset as the Feb. 19 trade deadline approaches. He has been traded three times in six seasons, so he isn’t fazed by the possibility. ‘This is the team I want to be with,’ Gooden said. ‘But this is a business, and I’ve always been a guy who had trade value. I just can’t think about that. I need to play for my team and try to win games.’”

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