(Mostly) Fresh ink: March 9, 2009

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K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Monday is an important day for the Bulls, for reasons that have nothing to do with their playoff-push matchup against the Miami Heat. Sources said Luol Deng will consult with an orthopedic surgeon in Miami who has extensive experience in treating tibial stress fractures to detail the fifth-year forward’s options. These range from surgery now to surgery after the season, shutting down for the Bulls’ final 19 games to begin a rehabilitation process without surgery or playing through pain and beginning a rehab process after the season. According to research involving other athletes with tibial stress fractures, surgery now could prevent any recurrence of a fracture in Deng’s right tibia and sideline him for roughly three months. No surgery could mean a three- to five-month rehabilitation process and a possibly chronic condition.”

Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Kirk Hinrich didn’t practice Sunday because of a bruised right quadriceps but said he would play tonight when the Bulls begin a three-game road trip at Miami. It’s the same injury that has kept Tim Thomas out for more than a week. Hinrich played only five minutes of the second half Friday in a 117-102 victory over Milwaukee after taking a knee from Richard Jefferson. He had an ice wrap on his thigh Sunday. ‘He’s not doing real well, and we need him, no question,’ coach Vinny Del Negro said. ‘He’s got a pretty big bruise, and he’s really stiff. If Kirk can play, I know he will.’ Thomas and Luol Deng (shin) also sat out practice, and neither is expected to play tonight as the Bulls try to solidify their hold on the last playoff berth. The Bulls (29-34) lead the Bucks by a half-game and Charlotte by a game for the eighth berth, but they’re 10-23 on the road.”

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “Vinny Del Negro must have owned a 10-speed bike when he was a kid, because he used how one works to illustrate how Derrick Rose should approach the pick-and-roll, a staple in the development of an NBA point guard. ‘Sometimes we talk about him being in gear 10 already,’ Del Negro said after the Bulls’ 117-102 victory over Milwaukee on Friday. ‘He’s got to pull it back sometimes. I thought he pulled it back to gear 6 and waited a little bit, then attacked the basket when it was open. That was good.’ Rose matched his career high with 27 points against the Bucks, and all 10 of his baskets came on fastbreaks or drives to the basket. There wasn’t a single jumper in the mix. One of the reasons the Bulls were willing to trade for center Brad Miller was to be a formidable partner with Rose in the screen-and-roll. Miller, 32, is a savvy veteran and has a decent midrange jump shot if opponents collapse on Rose. ‘You’ve got to be aggressive and really go at the big guy when they switch the screen, so that you’re going downhill with a head of steam,’ Miller said of Rose. ‘He just found a way to get to the cup really well.'”

Nick Hut of the Northwest Herald: “It is a rite of passage of sorts for many young teams. ‘At some point, you’ve got to find a way to take [success] at home and bring it with you on the road,’ Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said. For the Bulls, now would be a good time to make that happen. They face a three-game road trip this week, starting tonight at Miami and continuing later in the week against Orlando and Philadelphia. All three are likely Eastern Conference playoff teams. Seeking to secure their hold on the conference’s final playoff spot, and perhaps put themselves in position to move up in the standings, the Bulls hope for at least a victory or two. ‘We know we can play with some of the best teams in the league,’ rookie guard Derrick Rose said. ‘So we can be confident that we can get some wins on this trip.'”

More Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “The Bulls (29-34) lead the Bucks (30-36) by one-half game for the final conference playoff berth and are one game ahead of Charlotte. The Bulls take a two-game winning streak into Miami but are just 10-23 on the road. ‘We have a busy, long and tough week,’ said Del Negro, whose team also is to visit Orlando on Wednesday and Philadelphia on Friday. We have to get guys healthy. It’s such a tight race, if you slip up a little, you’re going to pay for it. We know that. But we have to play better basketball, especially on the road. We’re definitely good enough to win on the road. We just have to execute better, especially down the stretch. With the new guys and injuries, we’re trying to keep it together. We have a good mind-set. We just have to do the work.'”

John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “With the Bulls trailing by seven points midway through the first quarter and the United Center crowd growing restless Friday night, it seemed as though Derrick Rose suddenly flipped a switch from passive to attack mode. After taking only one shot in the first 6½ minutes of the game — an off-target jumper on the first offensive possession — Rose made a quick move and darted through the defense for a driving layup. The next time down the court, he did the same thing to ignite the Bulls’ offense. Rose had to head to the bench a moment later after picking up his second foul, but he continued to attack the basket when he returned and was one of the keys — along with Ben Gordon and John Salmons — to the Bulls’ 117-102 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks. In 41 minutes, Rose finished with 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting. Most of his baskets came on driving moves into the paint. ‘Derrick was aggressive,’ Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. ‘I liked his pace on the pick-and-rolls. Sometimes we talk about him being in gear 10 already and he’s got to pull it back some. I thought he pulled it back to about gear six, played with it a little bit and attacked the basket when it was open.'”

More K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “So do blocks, swats, rejections and any other name you use for blocked shots when it comes to Tyrus Thomas. The third-year forward set a franchise record Friday night by blocking at least one shot in his 24th consecutive game. The previous record of 23 had been shared with Ben Wallace (Jan.-March 2007) and Jawann Oldham (March-April 1985). Thomas set the mark with a second-quarter block of Luc Mbah a Moute’s layup attempt. During the streak, Thomas, who had two blocks Friday, has 49 overall. ‘I’m just doing my thing,’ Thomas said.”

Even more K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Re-sign Ben Gordon. That’s definitely not the craftiest lead in journalism history, but, if e-mail response is the goal, it could be one of the most effective given the polarizing effect Gordon’s game has on Bulls fans. There doesn’t appear to be much gray in the Gordon debate. Fans either send long, purging missives wailing on and on about Gordon’s defensive deficiencies, poor decision-making and 6-foot-3-inch stature. Or fans see what plenty of others see: an incredibly rare scoring talent who can post points in bizarre bursts and hit shots that should come with degrees of difficulty attached. ‘You know how ‘BG’ is when he gets in a rhythm like that,’ Bucks coach Scott Skiles said late Friday. ‘All of a sudden he starts making difficult shots with guys hanging all over him.’

Leanne Maton of the Chicago Sun-Times: “When Ben Sultz lost an envelope containing more than $500 from his synagogue’s fund-raising night at a Chicago Bulls game in a bustling United Center crowd last week, the action on the court became an afterthought. But thanks to two good samaritans with a BlackBerry, Sultz and the synagogue were soon reunited with their missing money. Rebekah Baum, 29, and her boyfriend Ilan Shalit, 33, found the envelope by the United Center’s entrance. They saw the congregation’s name on the checks inside and Googled it on Baum’s BlackBerry. To Sultz and his small congregation, ‘this was such a tremendous good deed. There’s a term we use called ‘tzedah’ which means doing good deeds for others, and wow, they personified that,’ he said.”

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