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Thibodeau considering lineup changes

11/22/2012

HOUSTON -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s loss that he is thinking about making changes to his starting lineup. The Bulls dropped a 93-89 decision to the Houston Rockets, marking the first time in Thibodeau's two-plus seasons that his team lost three consecutive games.

"We'll see," Thibodeau said when asked about lineup changes. "I'm looking at a lot of things."

The Bulls’ offensive execution has been inconsistent all season and it's clear that the veteran coach is looking for answers everywhere. The issue was compounded Wednesday night by the fact that the Bulls forced 23 turnovers, but still managed just 89 points, shooting just 2-for-16 from beyond the arc.

"Obviously you hate the losing part of it,” Thibodeau said. “I'm more concerned with us doing things the right way and focusing in on our improvement. There's a lot of things that go into winning and you have to do things the right way and that's what we have to understand and we have to be able to do that for 48 minutes. We can't pick and choose ... we have to be tied together the entire time. We have to be aware, we have to be alert, we have to make multiple efforts, we have to stay on bodies. We can't do the easy thing, we got to do the tough thing."

If Thibodeau does make a change, it would likely come in the backcourt where veterans Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton have struggled at various points throughout the season. Hinrich, who scored just four points and played just 23 minutes Wednesday, came into the game shooting just 29.6 percent from the field. Hamilton scored just four points, going 2-for-10 from the field. He has been benched in the fourth quarter throughout most of the first 11 games of the season. After coming to Chicago to try and win a championship alongside injured point guard Derrick Rose, this season has been difficult for the 14-year veteran but he is trying to take it in stride.

"When I came (to Chicago) it was just one of them things, whatever they need me (for), I'm going to do," Hamilton said. "I didn't want to get caught up in anything else. Just whatever they need me to do, that's what I'm going to do."

Thibodeau decided to ride veteran point guard Nate Robinson down the stretch in place of Hinrich and second-year forward Jimmy Butler in place of Hamilton.

"You're going with the group that's playing well at that particular time," Thibodeau said. "It's not about individuals, it's about the team. (Houston) is a tough team to cover defensively, so I thought Taj (Gibson) and Jimmy coming in got us going in the right direction."

Bulls center Joakim Noah doesn't believe that lineup changes will cure what ails the Bulls.

"Those aren't things that I can control as a player, but I don't think changing the lineup, to me, I don't think it's changing the lineup that's going to make a difference," Noah said. "I think we got to execute the lineup down the stretch, that's what it comes down to. That's what I think."

Bulls forward Luol Deng acknowledged that players shouldn't be surprised if Thibodeau decides to shake things up before Saturday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

"When you're losing you see a lot of things," Deng said. "Sometimes you win and those things are there. I think whatever decision the coaches make, or the coaching staff, as players, when you're losing, you can't really question that. If we're winning and you make changes then you have the right to question it, but if we're not getting the job done, whatever changes are made you just got to wait and see what the result is. But the coaching staff spends hours and hours trying to figure it out. Our job is to get the work in, work as hard as we can, and try to execute the game plan and right now we've got to get better at that."