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News » Team gets day off to regroup

Team gets day off to regroup

Team gets day off to regroup When a team is blown out three games in a row, it's easy to overreact and think the sky is falling.

But the Bulls are hoping a day off Tuesday serves as a sort of mental-health day for players and coaches before their game Thanksgiving night against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

Tuesday was the first time since the Bulls left Chicago on Nov. 16 that there was no travel, practice or game. Everyone was free to enjoy a rare mild and sunny November day in the Pacific Northwest, and the downtime couldn't have come at a better time.

After beginning their six-game ''circus trip'' with a victory against the Sacramento Kings, the Bulls have allowed at least 108 points in their last three games and have been outscored by combined 58 points in those losses.

''We played three big, strong teams in L.A., Denver and Portland,'' coach Vinny Del Negro said after the Bulls' 122-98 loss Monday to the Portland Trail Blazers. ''They're very big up front, and they're tough games. Even when we get it close, [like Monday] or in Denver, we're giving up big fourth quarters.''

With center Joakim Noah off to a surprisingly strong start, the Bulls have been better up front than expected. But the last three games have shown they're still not strong enough to play with the big boys.

The Lakers, Nuggets and Trail Blazers might be the three best teams in the Western Conference, and each has an impressive rotation of big men.

''I just have to find a way,'' said Noah, who was held to single digits in points (seven) and rebounds (eight) for the first time this season Monday. ''I feel like I've been getting overpowered the last couple of games. Guys are putting their bodies on me, and it's taking a toll on me. I have to find a way to sustain.''


Noah's frustration boiled over midway through the fourth quarter Monday when he was called for a foul against Trail Blazers center Greg Oden.

Noah, who led the NBA in rebounding (11.9) entering play Tuesday, was going for a defensive rebound when he was muscled out of the way by Oden. He had no choice but to foul to prevent an easy basket.

After the whistle, Noah ended up with the ball and fired it into the support behind the basket. He was assessed a technical foul, even though it was clear he was only upset with himself.

''Probably a little frustration, but we have to keep our composure there,'' Del Negro said. ''We don't need a technical, but Jo's played really well and plays hard every night. I'd like to see him keep his emotions in check, but I like his aggressiveness and his energy.''

If it's any consolation for Noah, the brutal stretch is over. The Jazz has solid big men in Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur, but neither is as big or as physical as the big men on the Lakers, Nuggets and Trail Blazers.


Lost amid the Bulls' loss Monday was Derrick Rose's first dunk of the season, a facial over Oden to start the scoring in the second half.

Rose has been playing more of a floor game because of the injured right ankle that caused him to miss most of training camp, but the injury is better and his explosiveness is returning.

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Added: November 26, 2009


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