All Bull - Chicago Bulls
First of all, the most shocking part of Tuesday's Indiana victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals -- from a Bulls perspective -- was LeBron James fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Remember, against the Bulls in the last series, James went nearly three full games -- from late first quarter of Game 2 to late first quarter of Game 5 -- without picking up a single foul. That added up to 119 minutes of playing time (nearly two hours) without being called for a foul.
James did foul out once before in a playoff game, last year against Boston, so it wasn't unprecedented.
Nate Robinson made a pitch to return to the Bulls next season, but acknowledged that the odds may be against him.
Robinson was an amazing story this season. He signed a non-guaranteed, minimum-salary contract last July, then ended up being the team’s hero of an improbable playoff run.
He scored 34 points in a triple-overtime win over Brooklyn on April 27, then added 27 points in a surprising Game 1 win at Miami on May 6.
“I would love to (return). Honestly, I really would,” Robinson said in the locker room, an ice bag resting on his right thigh. “Knowing the guys that we have here, I know there’s probably limited space for me, but we’ll see how it goes.
“I love this team. I love these guys and if I could stay here, it would be wonderful.
Here's the recap of Bulls news on Sunday afternoon:
--As expected, coach Tom Thibodeau was fined $35,000 for criticizing the officiating after Game 3. He already spoke to the media when the fine was announced, then told the media relations staff he had no comment.
Thibodeau was obviously trying to win a few more calls for Game 4 on Monday, so we'll see how that turns out.
--Luol Deng talked about his slow progress from the spinal tap/bad reaction. He said he tried to work out on his own Saturday, but ended up throwing up after five minutes. On Sunday, he tried warming up with the team and didn't last very long.
The one interesting sight at Friday's shootaround was Tom Thibodeau coaching Derrick Rose during his usual post-practice workout. Rose would practice a move and Thibs would say something like, "Try this" or "Work on that."
Still no sign of Rose playing in tonight's Game 3 at the United Center. Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich have also been ruled out.
In the meantime, the NBA assigned noted hard-line referee Joe Crawford to tonight's game. The Bulls should have learned in Game 2 not to let calls or officials get them distracted. They've got to be sharp and stick to the game plan to stay with Miami.
Game 2 featured 9 technical fouls (6 on the Bulls), along with a flagrant (on Miami's Chris Andersen) and ejections of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
MIAMI -- One topic getting some play in Miami today is whether LeBron James might take a turn guarding Bulls sparkplug Nate Robinson.
If it happens, it would most likely be late in the game. James got plenty of credit for slowing down Derrick Rose during the 2011 conference finals, especially in Game 4 when Rose had chances to win the game in regulation, but couldn’t score against James one-on-one.
Rose is 6-2, Robinson is listed at 5-9. Guarding someone nearly a foot shorter would be a challenge for James. But I suppose the theory is he’d do as good a job as anyone else on the Heat roster.
“We’ll see,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s not the let time we would have done it. ‘One Through Five,’ that’s his nickname for a reason.”
MIAMI – Nothing new at Bulls shootaround today. According to coach Tom Thibodeau, Luol Deng is feeling better, but is still back in Chicago, so he won’t play tonight.
Kirk Hinrich is officially a game-time decision, but he sounded pessimistic yesterday, so doubtful would be a good description of his status.
Asked about an Internet report Derrick Rose might start suiting up for games in case of emergency, Thibodeau smirked and said, “Nothing’s changed.”
In the meantime, here’s an optimistic thought for Bulls fans: Is it possible Miami lost its edge by coasting through the second half of the season?
Luol Deng will definitely not play in Monday's Game 1 against Miami. He was back in the hospital Sunday, still in Chicago, trying to recover from a bad reaction to a spinal tap administered Thursday. It's too soon to tell if he has a chance to play in Wednesday's Game 2.
Kirk Hinrich will test his injured calf and decide tonight whether or not he can play. He warmed up before Sunday's Game 7 in Brooklyn and decided he wasn't healthy enough to help the team.
Meanwhile, Derrick Rose spoke again at Monday's shootaround at American Airlines Arena, but his story hasn't changed. He won't play tonight, but won't rule out playing at some point in this series.
"Right now, I'm not ready so I'm just trying to take my time and just really, really be smart," Rose said, according to espn.com.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau just met with the media prior to Game 7 at the Barclays Center.
The message was pretty simple: Kirk Hinrich is out with his left calf bruise, Luol Deng was hoping to catch a flight today, but ended up spending most of the day in the hospital. Derrick Rose is not playing and Thibodeau feels good about his team, regardless.
This will be Hinrich's third game missed with the calf injury. He hasn't played since logging nearly 60 minutes in Game 4's three overtimes. Deng has been ailing since Wednesday and had a spinal tap Thursday to check for viral meningitis.
Anyone who saw Luol Deng on Thursday at the United Center would confirm he was in no condition to play. He is not expected to travel with the team to Brooklyn today, but he may try to fly on his own tomorrow for Game 7 against the Nets.
Deng sent a series of messages via Twitter on Friday afternoon, explaining and updating his health status:
"It really upsets me that everyone thinks I would miss a game (because) of the flu. I've played a lot of games with the flu in my career.
"On Wed I was taken to the ER and my symptoms indicated I may have meningitis. In order to play on Thurs I was required to undergo a spinal tap.
"As a result of the spinal tap I suffered the worst headache I've ever experienced and been the weakest I've ever felt.
Here’s the rundown on injuries and illnesses at the Bulls’ Thursday shootaround:
--Kirk Hinrich (left calf bruise) did not participate and is most likely out for tonight’s Game 6 against Brooklyn at the United Center. Coach Tom Thibodeau declined to speculate on whether the injury could keep Hinrich sidelined beyond tonight’s contest. “We’re just going day by day, hour by hour,” he said. “There’s still 6 or 7 hours before tonight’s game, so we’ll see where he is tonight.”
--Luol Deng and Taj Gibson are still sick. They missed practice Wednesday, checked in at the Berto Center today to listen to the game plan and are game-time decisions tonight. Brooklyn’s Reggie Evans was also out sick yesterday.