- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Marco Belinelli doesn't need to see the stats to re-affirm what he already knows.
"I know that I'm not playing really good right now," the new Bulls guard said after Saturday's practice. "That's part of the game, especially for a shooting guard, sometimes the balls goes in, sometimes (not). I just (have) to work on my shot and I hope it's going to be good."
Through the first five preseason games with his new team, Belinelli, the man brought in to help fill the void left by sharpshooter Kyle Korver, is just 7-for-28 from the field, including an 0-for-7 clip from beyond the arc. The frustration on his face was easy to see on Saturday. After practice, he spoke underneath a basket with assistant coach Ron Adams and then tried to explain why he is struggling, admitting that his confidence has been shaken a little bit.
"I'm happy because (Friday) we won a game, but personally I know that I can be better than that," he said. "I was a little bit pissed about that game (Friday), but that's part of the game, so the only thing I can do is just work, take my shot, and the confidence has to be more up."
That's the way his teammates and coaches want him thinking as well. They can see that he is struggling, but they figure he will bounce out of his preseason long slump soon.
"He's just got to shoot and play with confidence," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. "We're going to continue to run plays for him. We kind of run the same plays we run for Rip, for Marco. You know how it is, man. I've been through slumps. Every player on this team has been through slumps. Sometimes it just takes that first basket to get you going. Sometimes it will be a layup, it could be a free throw, it could be a wide open jump shot for him because he's a phenomenal shooter, so it just takes that one shot. We're going to keep screening hard for him, getting him in pick-and-rolls, he's a good ball handler; trying to get him loose because I'd rather him miss all his shots now and make them all in the regular season anyway."
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau just wants to make sure Belinelli's struggles from the field don't seep into other parts of his game.
"You don't want it to," Thibodeau said. "There's going to be nights in which you don't shoot the ball as well as other nights, and when that happens you can't allow that to impact the way you play. You still have to sprint back, play defense. Our team is committed to being a five man team on both offense and defense ... he can still play effectively when he's not shooting well. I think running the floor, getting some easy baskets will help."
Like Boozer, the veteran coach believes Belinelli will break out of his funk soon. When asked about Belinelli's struggles, Thibodeau went out of his way to praise other aspects of the veteran's game.
"There's a lot of other things he can do," Thibodeau said. "You guys, you judge him strictly by how he shoots the ball. He made a number of good plays off the dribble. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor and make a good play. And then he also has the ability to play good defense. So the nights in which he doesn't shoot the ball well he can still play well for us and that's what I expect from him. I know his offense will come around, he's already shown that he's more than capable. So he just has to keep working at it, he'll be fine."
13dMatt Walks, ESPN.com