Fresh ink: March 11, 2009

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Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “After playing the 58-minute game with just seven players — thanks to injuries to Luol Deng (right-shin contusion) and Tim Thomas (left-knee sprain), while Kirk Hinrich (bruised right knee) was not 100 percent — the Bulls canceled Tuesday’s practice. They face a tough bounce-back game Wednesday night against Orlando. ‘That was probably the toughest loss,’ said Bulls guard Ben Gordon, who scored a season-high 43 points. ‘We were both fighting hard. That is how the game was going to end — whoever made the last, best play was going to win the game.’ The loss dropped the Bulls to 5-10 in games decided in overtime or by 4 points or fewer. The Bulls (29-35) also dropped back into a tie with Milwaukee for the eighth playoff spot in the East. With rookie point guard Derrick Rose at the controls, the Bulls have visited both extremes during late-game pressure situations. For every gut-wrenching road loss this season, the Bulls have had their share of spectacular late-game comebacks, mostly at home.”

Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune: “It sounds like such a dainty injury: small stress fracture of the right tibia. Small, as in not big. Stress fracture. Not even a real broken bone. Tibia—what is that, a genus of flowers? The implication in some of what you read and hear about Luol Deng’s injury is that it’s not much of an injury. And if it’s not much of an injury, then it doesn’t take a GPS device and a full tank of gas to reach the conclusion that he’s being a baby. … There’s a lesson we can’t seem to learn in our little corner of the world: Never question the severity of someone’s injury. You have no idea what an athlete is experiencing. You have no idea how much pain he’s trying to overcome. And there’s always the chance the diagnosis isn’t complete.”

Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times: “It’s a delicious prospect, especially after a night like last night, when Dwyane Wade elevated his team to a pulsating double-overtime victory over his hometown five with an epic performance that will forever be burned in the memories of all who witnessed it. Next year, Wade will be a free agent. Thanks in part to their deadline deals, the Bulls have available cap space. Wade grew up in Robbins dreaming of being Michael Jordan. Here’s his chance. If he signed with the Bulls it could be 1991 all over again. Imagine it. Derrick Rose and Wade, two local boys, the modern day Jordan and Pippen, leading the Bulls back to glory. It not only seems plausible but logical until you realize it almost never happens. Sadly for the Bulls, superstar free-agents rarely leave their teams. Rules have been established to discourage it. As much as we want it to happen it rarely does, as much as we like to think it’s not all about the money it almost always is.”

Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune: “The rookie Bulls coach explicitly called for the dribbling-challenged John Salmons to set up a game-winning shot. Actually, it did turn into a game-winner. Salmons got double-teamed, lost the ball to Dwyane Wade, and helplessly watched as the Heat star swished a three-pointer at the buzzer. Ballgame. It was a great game to watch. Very entertaining. Nothing said the Bulls couldn’t beat the Heat. Nothing except the Bulls’ embarrassing end-of-game decisions. Twice, the Bulls tried to run a game-deciding play. Once, they had almost 12 seconds to do it and missed several chances at the rim. Next, with almost four seconds to go at the end, Salmons had the ball. Salmons is not a point guard. Salmons loooked it. Looked it, lost the ball, lost the game. Nice play. The Bulls’ rookie coach designed the play where the team’s best ballhandler doesn’t handle the ball because he liked a matchup featuring the team’s third-best option when you’re 47 feet away. Ben Gordon was as hot as D-Wade, Derrick Rose is your best ballhandler, and neither of them gets a touch when the ball has to get to the hoop or get to the open man. Oh, wait, Wade was open. Right after he stole the ball from Salmons.”

John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “I’m fine with Bulls veterans making rookie Derrick Rose bring doughnuts to practice. That’s part of paying your dues. But the rookie hazing shouldn’t extend to the referees. Rose took 25 shots Monday and made only nine, so you might surmise that he had an off shooting night. Well, maybe not. A few of the misses came on drives to the basket in which he drew contact and nothing was called. Rose had four free-throw attempts in 55 minutes. ‘There are a lot of things that are happening to Derrick Rose, where in a year or so, he’ll get the calls,’ Bulls assistant Bernie Bickerstaff said Tuesday during a radio interview. ‘That’s just life in the National Basketball Association. The guys who paid their dues, there is a preferential treatment, There’s no doubt about that. It’s always been that way.’ That doesn’t make it right. Forget about Rose. It’s not fair to the Bulls, who are battling for a playoff spot, that their best player can drive to the basket, draw contact and nothing gets called.”

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