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Coach Thibodeau making sure Bulls don’t get ‘Clipped’ again

Chicago Bulls Vs Philadelphi76ers.  Bulls No. 12 Kirk Hinrich is fouled by Philadelphi76ers No.18 Maalik Wayns. Saturday December 1

Chicago Bulls Vs Philadelphia 76ers. Bulls No. 12 Kirk Hinrich is fouled by Philadelphia 76ers No.18 Maalik Wayns. Saturday December 1, 2012 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 12, 2013 6:20AM



Nothing gives Tom Thibodeau more ammunition than the past, and the Bulls coach came to Tuesday’s practice locked and loaded.

While he acknowledged his team has played well on defense recently, he was quick to remind his players that there is still room for improvement. With the Clippers coming to town Tuesday, Thibodeau didn’t need to look far for some proof. When the two teams met in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, the Bulls played their worst game of the season and lost 101-80. Transition defense was the team’s focus in Monday’s practice.

“Everyone has to understand how important all five guys are in tying everything together,” Thibodeau said. “So if one guy is not doing his job it’s going to make the whole group look bad. I think it’s important. Some nights you’re not going to shoot the ball as well as others, but you still want to be in position to win.”

The team will certainly get a boost knowing it will have starting point guard Kirk Hinrich.

Hinrich said that he hyper-extended his elbow in the second half of the Bulls 93-85 win over the Knicks on Saturday. He practiced fully Monday and Thibodeau says he will be ready for the Clippers.

As one of the team’s best on-ball defenders, he’ll play a pivotal role in stopping point guard Chris Paul from getting out into the open floor.

In their first meeting, Clippers guards combined for 44 points and Paul had 10 assists. Shooting guard Jamal Crawford scored 22 off the bench.

“They’re so talented,” Hinrich said. “Their starters are very good, their bench is playing great. It’s just a challenge. They beat up on us pretty good out there so we have to play much better.

“We have to be locked in defensively. [We can’t] Turn it over, [we can’t] let them get out in the open floor. They’re so athletic. We just have to be solid and make them earn what they do.”

As much as the Bulls will rely on cohesion on defense, it might be the team’s offense that sets the tone.

In their last meeting with the Clippers, the Bulls committed 15 turnovers and the Clippers blocked 10 shots and had 10 steals.

That was a catalyst to the Clippers’ 26 fast-break points, a stat Thibodeau has committed to memory when addressing that game.

“They get the ball in the open floor and now it’s tough,” Thibodeau said. “When you turn the ball over and don’t have floor balance, it’s very difficult to recover in those defensive transitions. So those are things that we have to take care of.”



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