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Preseason opener offers mixed bag

Some good, some bad to tip things off

Caption
(AP)
Bulls center Joakim Noah (left) steals the ball from Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi during the second half of a preseason game Tuesday in Chicago. The Bulls won 92-88.

The Bulls took Wednesday off from the practice floor, giving players the opportunity to get treatment, get some shots up and watch film of Tuesday’s exhibition opening victory over Memphis.

Coach Tom Thibodeau likes to say each game reveals both good and bad. In that spirit, here are three bright and dark spots from the 92-88 victory.

The good

• Thirty-two fast-break points. Exhibition game or not, Derrick Rose or not, this statistic jumps off the box score.

Better yet, the Bulls scored several easy baskets off their defense, something Thibodeau emphasizes often.

In the 14-0 run to open the second half, Kirk Hinrich fed Richard Hamilton and Joakim Noah for fast-break layups following his steals.

• Luol Deng. His consistency is almost getting to the point of being taken for granted.

He’s rarely flashy but often productive. His game-high 18 points featured 11 trips to the free-throw line, more than he attempted in any game last season. • Thirty-nine free-throw attempts. Though the offense sputtered down the stretch, the Bulls did attack the rim consistently.

Thibodeau stresses playing inside-out and without Rose, dribble penetration won’t be as prevalent. The fact the Bulls got on the break and attacked the rim in halfcourt sets to get this many trips to the line is encouraging.

The bad

• The bench. Yes, Nazr Mohammed posted an impressive double-double and Nate Robinson also scored in double figures.

But this unit looked disjointed at both ends in lengthy second- and fourth-quarter stretches.

Thibodeau reminded all afterward that the impressive reserves from the last two seasons also took time to find chemistry.

• The fourth quarter. Thibodeau had the line of the night when asked about 1-for-21 shooting in the final period.

“It’s a concern,” he cracked.

Thibodeau said he felt Taj Gibson, who went 1-for-7, rushed his offensive touches.

• 3-point shooting. Obviously, it’s the first game.

But for a team that has stressed the need to shoot more 3-pointers this season, shooting 2-for-14 stands out.

Only Robinson and Deng connected. Hinrich missed all three attempts and Marco Belinelli badly missed on his two. The Bulls lost plenty of solid 3-point shooting from last season and need to establish this as part of their offense consistently.

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