Chicago Bulls: 2011-12 season

Ronnie Brewer fond of time with Bulls

December, 8, 2012
12/08/12
7:37
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Former Chicago Bull Ronnie Brewer returned to the United Center with the New York Knicks on Saturday and spoke fondly of his time in Chicago and had no hard feelings for being let go.

Brewer played two seasons for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and was a key member of the “Bench Mob.” After last season, Bulls management decided not to pick up Brewer's option. He later signed with the Knicks.

“If you get caught up in feelings in the NBA, you’re going to have an up-and-down life,” Brewer said prior to Saturday’s game. “It’s part of the business, part of the game.

“I wish we could have kept it together. It was fun out there, great atmosphere here when we had the ‘Bench Mob’ going. There’s a time everything has to come to an end.”

There was one aspect of playing for the Bulls that Brewer didn’t reminisce about.

“I know I don’t miss Thibs’ practices, for sure,” said Brewer, who said he keeps in touch with his former teammates and coaches. “But the city was great, the fans were great, my teammates were amazing. I don’t really have anything negative to say about Chicago. My time here was great. I’m looking forward to playing (Saturday) and should be a really good game.”

Brewer was a key part to the Bulls’ success, and now the Knicks are benefitting from his play. He’s been a starter all season and has averaged 6.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 18 games.

“Ronnie's big time,” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said. “Defensively, he's another smart player we have on the court, another guy who knows how to play the game. He plays games within the game -- a lot of times we're feeding off of him on the defensive end, too.”

And just like last season, Brewer is again with a team that stands atop the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have built a 14-4 record to start the year and are 1 games up on the Miami Heat. The Bulls, who are 10-8, are four games back of New York.

Brewer thought there were a number of similarities between the past Bulls teams and the current Knicks. He did laugh when someone asked if he was the reason both teams won.

“Not at all,” Brewer said. “I’ve been fortunate to play with some really great guys here. The common denominator -- Thibs is a great coach, (Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s) a great coach. You have a MVP candidate in (Derrick Rose), Carmelo (Anthony).

“Tyson’s (Chandler) playing really great defense, Joakim’s (Noah) playing really great defense, Luol Deng’s playing really great defense. It’s a number of things similar on both teams, but it’s the same solution. You defend, you rebound, low turnovers, you’re going to be in a lot of NBA games.”

Brewer said he still keeps a close eye on the Bulls and believes they are still a top team even without Rose.

“I don’t think they had the start they wanted, but that happens when you have a revamped roster,” Brewer said. “But with Thibs coaching the team, you knew sooner or later they were going to click, start defending liked they needed to, rebounding and just get the chemistry back going again

“They’re still a dangerous team with or without (Rose). I can’t say you want to face them without Derrick Rose because they’re still a dangerous team.”

Deng gets himself, Bulls back on track

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
11:41
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- What the Chicago Bulls’ bench was going to provide Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks was anyone’s guess.

[+] EnlargeLuol Deng
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAfter a rare off night Monday, Luol Deng responded with 22 points and six rebounds Wednesday in the Bulls' win over the Mavs.
What Bulls forward Luol Deng was going to provide was predictable. After a rare off game in Monday’s collapse to the Milwaukee Bucks, there was little chance Deng would have a repeat performance.

While the bench did finally contribute, it was Deng again who returned to his usual self and led the way to a 101-78 win over Mavericks at the United Center.

Deng sparked the Bulls from the start, scoring 12 first-quarter points and finishing with a game-high 22 on 8-of-17 shooting and six rebounds. In Monday’s loss, Deng was held to 10 points. It was just the second time all season he scored less than 14.

“You can’t say enough about this guy,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I mean, he’s tough. He’s physically tough. He’s mentally tough. He’s a winner. Does whatever you ask, never complains. Puts the team first, and you need that.

“That’s the best type of leadership you can have. This is not something that’s new. That’s something he’s done the three years I’ve been here. He’s just a winning player. He’s played very well with the starting unit, played very well with the bench.”

Because of Deng’s versatility, Thibodeau often relies on him to play major minutes and play with the starters and the bench. Since Thiobodeau’s arrival, Deng has led the team in average minutes played every season. He averaged 37.1 in 2009-10, 39.1 last season and is averaging 40.3 this season. He played 47 minutes in Monday’s loss.

On Wednesday, Deng got bit of a breather because the bench played so well and the team built a sizeable lead in the second quarter. He played just 35 minutes against the Mavericks.

Either way is fine by Deng.

“I felt great,” Deng said. “It’s just really how the game went. We got a big lead, got to rest in the second quarter. It’s just how the game goes. I’m not really worried about how much I’m playing, just try to play as hard as I can out there.”

Deng’s teammates respect him for that effort and try to match it.

“Luol is our leader,” Bulls backup forward Taj Gibson said. “He understands what we have to do. He understands he’s going to play a lot minutes. What we’re trying to do is try to give him a little support, especially with Jimmy (Butler), Marco (Belinelli) and guys who can come in and give him some help because he’s guarding the best player night in and night out, playing a lot of minutes, running a good offense for us. We’re just trying to help him the best we can.”

The bench did help Wednesday, and Deng was pleased.

“It’s always a plus to have a bench that comes in and holds the lead or builds the lead,” Deng said. “Teams with a great bench have an advantage. As a season goes on, there’s so many games, it really helps a lot. But those guys have been working hard in practice all year, so it was a matter of time before it clicked.”

Gibson: Bench Mob 'not cutting it right now'

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
4:47
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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HOUSTON -- The Chicago Bulls aren't using the absence of Omer Asik as an excuse for their struggles off the bench, but that lack of production is as obvious as Asik's contributions to the Houston Rockets.

And those contributions will be on display Wednesday when the Bulls visit the Rockets and Asik, who is averaging 10 points and 12.3 rebounds.

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Bulls, Thibs still trying to find answers

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
12:50
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Tom Thibodeau is a man who prides himself on always being able to come up with an answer for what ails his team. No matter what the problem has been over the past two seasons, no matter which player has been out of the lineup, Thibodeau has always found a way to fix whatever problem arose.

After watching the Chicago Bulls struggle for the second consecutive night in a 102-94 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, even the veteran coach is searching for answers. His team continues to struggle offensively, but it's his tried-and-true defense that has become the larger issue. For the fourth consecutive game, the Bulls gave up more than 100 points.

"The defense right now, the intensity, we got to get that part right," a frustrated Thibodeau said. "We got to get that right. The rebounding's not good, the turnovers … so the defense the rebounding and the turnovers, all three are a problem right now so we got to correct that. Those three things put you in position to win. Then the inside out and sharing the ball. So we got to correct that."

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Rose may attend Saturday's game in LA

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
5:01
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Chris PaulNoah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesChris Paul and the Clippers recently beat the Heat at Staples Center.
LOS ANGELES -- Derrick Rose may be in attendance Saturday night when the Chicago Bulls face off against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

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Bulls miss Asik -- old Bench Mob's play

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
4:50
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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AsikDanny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty ImagesOmer Asik was averaging 10.5 points and 12.9 rebounds entering action Friday.
LOS ANGELES -- Aside from Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls are missing one player more than any other this season: Omer Asik.

The young, big man, who signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Houston Rockets over the summer that the Bulls decided not to match, has been tearing up the league through the first month of the season. After averaging three points and five rebounds in 15 minutes per game last season, Asik has started strong this year -- to the tune of almost 11 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes per game through the first eight contests of the season.

His former teammates and coaches have taken notice of his success.

"He's doing great," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said before Friday morning's shoot-around at UCLA. "I'm hoping he gets (the) Most Improved (Player award) because he's getting the starting minutes he deserves and he's taking advantage of it. He's playing almost 40 minutes a night."

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Boozer tries to silence critics

November, 15, 2012
11/15/12
12:38
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Carlos BoozerBrian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarlos Boozer started to find an offensive rhythm on Wednesday
PHOENIX -- Contrary to popular belief, Carlos Boozer is not oblivious to everything going on around him. He hears the criticism he has received during his time in Chicago and he doesn't like it, although he doesn't usually talk about it publicly.

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Video: Rose's Return, Episode 3

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
12:12
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com


Derrick Rose gives fans an all-access look at his rehab program in the third installment of "The Return."

LeBron James: No asterisk for champ

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
6:32
PM CT
Windhorst By Brian Windhorst
ESPNChicago.com
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NEW YORK -- LeBron James doesn't want to hear anything about an asterisk.

With a rash of injuries across the NBA and several playoff teams crippled because of it, there has been some talk that this might be remembered as a tainted season because of last year's lockout. There was some stigma attached to the last lockout season in 1998-99.


For years Phil Jackson referred to the San Antonio Spurs title that year as having an asterisk attached to it because of the circumstances of that shortened season.

The mere mention of that fired up James on Saturday as the Heat had a practice at Madison Square Garden. The Heat will look to close out the New York Knicks Sunday in Game 4.

"I don't think that's right to say," James said. "I'm not going to get involved in it. Every team works hard no matter if it's a lockout year or not. There's not much of a difference between 82 games and 66 games."

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Popovich edges Thibodeau for top coach

May, 1, 2012
5/01/12
2:26
PM CT
By Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO -- Gregg Popovich is the NBA's Coach of the Year after leading the San Antonio Spurs to 50 wins in the lockout-shortened season and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

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10 reasons to watch the Bulls in the playoffs

April, 27, 2012
4/27/12
1:17
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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10: The resurgence of Kyle Korver


He sat out Thursday's regular-season finale because of nagging injuries, but Korver has shot the ball a lot better recently. More importantly, his defense has improved this season, and if he knocks down open jumpers he will stretch the floor for Derrick Rose in crunch time.

[+] EnlargeTaj Gibson
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastTaj Gibson is always good for a few highlight plays in the playoffs.

9: The rise of Taj

Taj Gibson's defense has gotten even better this season, and he will be called upon to be a closer alongside Omer Asik late in games. He always seems to make one or two highlight plays each night, especially against the Miami Heat.

8. The Bench Mob is rolling


Tom Thibodeau may decide to cut his rotation down much the same way he did last postseason, but if he doesn't, Bulls fans should feel great because their team has the deepest bench in the NBA. C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Jimmy Butler, John Lucas III, Korver and Gibson have developed into a reliable group of reserves that Thibodeau has more confidence in this season.

7. Noah is primed for a title run

Joakim Noah had a lot of ups and downs this season, but he looks to be mentally ready for the grind that comes in the postseason. He was not happy with how last season finished, and he is motivated to create a different ending this time.

6. Thibs is in control


Now in his second year, Thibodeau knows what he wants from his team, and he learned a lot from the postseason last time. He wants to continue to prove to all the teams that passed him over for head-coaching positions that they made a mistake. The best revenge would be a title.

5. Bulls still feel like underdogs


Thibodeau's team had the best record in the NBA again this season, but he has the players buying into the idea that there are still a lot of people who don't believe they can win. That belief will permeate through the locker room as the postseason drags along and will push his players to play even harder.

4. A year wiser


As a group, the Bulls have matured a lot over the past year. They have gotten even more comfortable playing alongside each other, and they are even more confident when they are on the floor together. That maturity is something that has grown throughout the season, and they feel like it will carry them for the next few months.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Boozer
Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarlos Boozer proved durable during his second season in Chicago.

3. Don't write off Boozer yet

Carlos Boozer knows that he didn't perform up to his capabilities last season during the playoffs. He heard all the criticism, and it pushed him to come back in even better shape this season. He is the only Bull who started and played in every game this season. He wants to have a big postseason run to prove to everybody who doubted him that he is not a bust.

2. Rip City


The Bulls' biggest flaw last season was that they didn't have a 2-guard who could knock down open shots and take some pressure off Rose. Now they feel like they have that guy with Richard Hamilton, a player who knows what it takes to win a title (having won one in Detroit) and can help show his teammates the way. If he can knock down big shots in the playoffs, nobody will care that he missed most of the season because of injuries.

1. Watching Derrick Rose


Bulls fans should be most excited by the fact that Rose is playing and desperately wants to win a title. He has been hurt, and he's still not close to 100 percent. But he's still the reigning MVP of the league, and he is still better than most of his peers, even when he's not at his best. Rose may not be able to make all the moves he made last season, but as long as he's on the floor the Bulls still have a chance to win a title.

Bulls players want to work, not rest

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
7:58
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Chicago BullsMike DiNovo/US PresswireInjuries have cost the Bulls starters valuable playing time together this season.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- The Chicago Bulls are one win (or one Miami Heat loss) from clinching the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, but no matter what happens over the next few days, Tom Thibodeau is not about to rest his players down the stretch.

He made that pretty clear after Monday morning's practice.

"When you look at what the starters have done, our guys up front, really no one's playing starter's minutes," Thibodeau said. "And they haven't all season. And then when you look at the backcourt guys, I think Derrick [Rose has] played 1,300 minutes this year. Rip [Hamilton] has played less. So from a minutes standpoint, everyone talks about Luol [Deng]. Luol's only played 2,000 minutes this season. So you have a well-rested team. You have to also keep in mind that we've played over 10 guys all season long, so that plays into it also. So if a guy needs rest, we're going to give him rest. The two things that are important at this point in the season are playing well and being healthy. So if someone were to need rest, we'd give him rest. But you're losing sight of all the guys that have missed the majority of the season."

While some coaches in the NBA have already made the decision to sit players in order to rest them for what figures to be a hectic postseason run, Thibodeau has no plans on doing that at the moment. Considering his starting group of Rose, Hamilton, Carlos Boozer, Deng and Joakim Noah has only played together 14 times all season, the veteran coach wants them to find some kind of rhythm before the postseason begins. He chafed at the notion that he should rest his players just because he could.

"If a guy needed rest, we would rest, but if a guy doesn't need rest, we won't," Thibodeau said. "It all depends on who you're talking about. We also have to be playing well, too, going in. So some guys who have been resting or been injured most of the season, maybe they need some minutes. Maybe a unit needs minutes. And you're also trying to get a look at playing small. Like we went with C.J. [Watson] and Derrick together. We may get a look at things like that, so you got to do both."

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Thibs: No need to use respect as motivation

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
10:41
AM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com


Tom Thibodeau hopes his Chicago Bulls, who are on the verge of their second straight No. 1 seed in the East, don't have to rely on any perceived feelings of disrespect for motivation as they head into the playoffs.

"The thing is you'd like to get ready the same way," Thibodeau said Monday on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN 1000. "Sometimes if you feel slighted it can be motivation, but I think if you're relying on that stuff then you haven't done your work all year long. Hopefully you've put the work in and when you're ready to go you play well."

[+] EnlargeTom Thibodeau
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireTom Thibodeau has his Bulls poised for another No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
At 48-16, the Bulls have a two-game lead on the Miami Heat in the loss column with two games remaining for each team. The Bulls close out the season on the road against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday and at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. Miami, which appears intent on resting its Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, wraps the regular season with road games at the Boston Celtics on Tuesday and at the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers are jockeying for the final two spots in the East. If the playoffs started today the Bulls would face the eighth-seed 76ers and the Knicks would take on the Heat. Knicks forwardJared Jeffries made headlines last week when he said he would rather play the Bulls than the Heat in the first round.

"I still think the Bulls," Jeffries said Friday on ESPN New York 1050's "Ruocco & Lundberg." "Whenever you can have an MVP candidate or former MVP player be out on the team, I think that's what you've got to go for. I mean, they're still playing very well without him, but I'm not sure over a seven-game series they can keep that high level of playing without Derrick Rose."

Thibodeau said he doesn't put much stock in what others are saying about his team.

"Whether it's praise or criticism it really doesn't matter what other people think. The only thing that matters is what we think," Thibodeau said. "We began the season with the end in mind. We've strived for improvement every day. I think going into the playoffs it comes down to who's playing well and who's healthiest. We know we'd like to be a well-balanced team at both ends and hopefully we'll be ready."

If there is a general lack of respect for the Bulls nationally it likely comes with the uncertain health of Rose, who has missed 26 games this season with five different injuries. Rose returned Saturday after missing three games with an ankle injury and had 11 points and eight assists in a victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

"He's doing a lot better," Thibodeau said. "The big thing is we were off [Sunday], and he came in and got treatment. We'll see where he is [Monday]. Hopefully he will be fine. He's done a great job with his rehab. It's been one of those seasons where every time he's come back there's been another thing coming along. Hopefully everything will be shored up now."


Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau discusses Derrick Rose's health, Chicago's success without Rose, his team's depth, the impact of the shortened season, Metta World Peace's ejection for elbowing James Harden and more.

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Bulls ready to take shot at fixing offense

April, 22, 2012
4/22/12
7:17
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Joakim Noah AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhJoakim Noah and the Bulls may try taking fewer passes and more shots.


CHICAGO -- With just two regular season games remaining, the Chicago Bulls offense remains in a state of transition.

Considering all the injuries the Bulls have dealt with throughout the year, it's obvious that they are still finding their way on the floor. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Bulls came into Saturday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks having won 28 consecutive games when scoring 100 points or more -- the longest streak in the league. The problem for the Bulls is that they've only scored 100 twice this month and are only averaging 91 points in those 11 games.

Derrick Rose, the leader of the Bulls' offense and the man usually in charge of making things go, understands the lack of scoring has been a problem. Rose has only played in four games over the past month and a half because of groin and ankle injuries, so the Bulls are hoping his presence gets things back on track soon. Rose doesn't sound too concerned. He believes the offense will be fine once the playoffs begin.

"We’re just missing shots," he said after Saturday night's win. "I think that we’re over-passing in certain situations where we should shoot the ball. We’re so unselfish that we’ll try to make the pass and teams are getting a hand on it and we just got to get a little bit selfish when we get to the lane. Where most of our turnovers are happening in the lane [is] where we should shoot the ball. And our bigs are looking to rebound, but we try and thread the needle and that’s creating turnovers."

Veteran guard Richard Hamilton shared that same point of view. He believes that with Rose back in the fold the Bulls will find their groove again soon.

"We had a lot of easy shots we just didn’t make," he said. "I thought that we’ll get those opportunities, 90 percent of the time we’ll make them, but the ball just hasn’t gone in. Lately we’ve been turning the ball over so we just wanted to be a little bit more careful with taking care of the ball and making the easy play."

That's why the Bulls think that their next two games are so important ... no matter what the Miami Heat does. With a Miami loss Sunday night to the Houston Rockets, the Bulls would clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. As far as the players are concerned, that doesn't make the final two contests meaningless. All that means is that it gives the starters another chance to figure out a way to play well together before the playoffs begin.

"It was tough," Bulls center Joakim Noah said regarding the fact that the Bulls' starters have only played together in a handful of games all season. "We haven’t been able to play a lot together, but this is why these next two games are really important. We just got to stay focused and understand that there’s a big picture and just get ready for the playoffs."

Bulls’ tough guys: The Bulls took some criticism from fans and media alike after Thursday's loss to the Heat because of the way it seemed they got out-muscled, especially after some perceived cheap shots from several Heat players. But when asked Saturday night, Tom Thibodeau brushed off the notion that his team is too nice and doesn't have any enforcers.

"When you look at the strength of the club, we’ve been a defensive team, we’ve been a rebounding team for a long time," Thibodeau said. "We’ve been a dominant rebounding team. You can’t be a dominant rebounding team being soft, I know that. I wouldn’t say we’re soft. Now were we disappointed with the end result in Miami? Yeah. And are we capable of playing a lot better? Yeah. We were disappointed in our fourth quarter, but we also did a lot of good things in that game, that game was very winnable in the fourth quarter. So we’re going to make the necessary corrections and move forward."

The last word: Deng, on the mentality the Bulls have heading into the last two games of the regular season:
"It’s really easy to get up for a playoff game. Right now at this time, you’ve got to challenge yourself and just coming in focused and just treating it like this is the start of it. Just getting your reps in, getting your rhythm in, and before you know it, we’re starting the playoffs."
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose will be a game-time decision for Saturday’s home game against the defending NBA champions Dallas Mavericks.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose participated in most of Saturday morning’s shootaround and was feeling better after dealing with a recent right foot injury.

Read the entire story.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5