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updated: 12/17/2011 12:16 AM

Bulls' defense kicks it into gear after rough first quarter

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  • Derrick Rose shoots while pressured by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, left, and guard Darren Collison in the first half of a preseason game in Indianapolis on Friday.

      Derrick Rose shoots while pressured by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, left, and guard Darren Collison in the first half of a preseason game in Indianapolis on Friday.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago Bulls guard C.J. Watson, right, drives on Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison in the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

      Chicago Bulls guard C.J. Watson, right, drives on Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison in the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

 
 

The Bulls have been practicing for a week, but coach Tom Thibodeau apparently waited until the first-quarter timeout on Friday to start teaching defense.

OK, that's obviously not true. But the Bulls in-game defensive improvement during the preseason opener at Indiana was impressive.

The Bulls held the Pacers to 25.8 percent shooting during the final three quarters and rolled to a 95-86 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Bulls guard Richard Hamilton, who's had just one practice with his new team, did not play Friday. He should see action in Tuesday's rematch at the United Center. Ronnie Brewer started at shooting guard.

Ex-Hornets power forward David West, signed by Indiana as a free agent and recovering from knee surgery in the spring, also did not play.

The Pacers shot 60 percent from the field in the first quarter, scored 33 points and led by as many as 13. Once the defense picked up, Indiana was limited to 53 points the rest of the way. The Pacers hit just 2 of 23 shots in the second quarter.

Derrick Rose and Luol Deng led the Bulls with 16 points each. The visitors shot 49.3 percent from the field, but piled up 24 turnovers.

"A charge, travel, like some high school turnovers," Rose said after the game. "But I know that comes with being excited to be out there. We can deal with missed shots, that will happen in a game. But turnovers are something that we definitely have to change. It starts with me."

One of the biggest lessons in this victory is the Bench Mob still rules. The Bulls' reserves helped turn the tables after the early deficit. Guard C.J. Watson scored 14 points, Taj Gibson had 12 and 9 rebounds, while rookie forward Jimmy Butler had a nice pro debut with 8 points.

After Butler took the floor late in the first quarter, the Bulls went on a 17-6 run. He had the good fortune of checking in at the same time as Rose, who left early with foul trouble.

This was a typical NBA exhibition -- foul-filled and sloppy. Long before this year's lockout, referees had a tendency to call more fouls in preseason than they do when the games count.

After the opening tip, Rose picked up 2 fouls in less than two minutes. Then Watson, his replacement, was hit with 3 fouls before the first quarter ended.

The Bulls played close to a normal rotation, with time off for foul trouble factored in. Deng played 30 minutes, while Rose and Gibson logged 26 minutes each. Carlos Boozer hit just 3 of 10 shots from the field, finishing with 7 points, 6 rebounds and 5 fouls.

Bulls waive Bogans:

For a low-priority free agent, Keith Bogans had a nice run with the Bulls. But it came to an end after one season when he was waived on Friday.

The move had been expected even before the Bulls signed former Pistons shooting guard Richard Hamilton.

Signed after the Bulls passed on Tracy McGrady, Bogans started every game, including playoffs, and helped anchor coach Tom Thibodeau's defense.

In the final analysis, though, Bogans needed to knock down a few more shots to keep his spot. He averaged just 4.4 points last season and it became a running joke how the Bulls rarely lost when Bogans scored at least 6 points or hit as many as 3 baskets from 3-point range.

The Bulls also officially waived guard Jannero Pargo, but there was never much discussion about bringing him back. Bogans practiced with the Bulls up until the opening night of camp.

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