By Mike McGraw
Coach Tom Thibodeau walked into the locker room following the Bulls 100-94 preseason victory over Milwaukee and motioned for guard Nate Robinson.
As he hustled out of the crowded locker room, Robinson said quietly, “Uh oh, principal’s office.”
Not on this night. Starting at point guard in place of Kirk Hinrich, Robinson delivered an impressive performance, contributing 24 points, 13 rebounds and zero turnovers.
Whatever Thibodeau said, it didn’t last long. Robinson was quickly back at his locker talking about the game. He started the night shooting just 23.3 percent in preseason but found his way quickly.
“When I missed my first 2 shots, I was like, ‘Oh, man, not again,’” Robinson said. “But I finally got an easy look, made one. Then I was like, ‘I’m going to keep attacking.’”
That plan worked well for his teammates. The Bulls had their best offensive performance of the preseason, shooting 46.8 percent as a team, as well as scoring 100 points.
Richard Hamilton added 24 points, while both Joakim Noah (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (10 and 10) collected double-doubles.
“I tell (Robinson), ‘I still expect you to be aggressive. The more aggressive you are, the better it is for me,’” Hamilton said. “He was aggressive. He made shots. He passed to the open guy. I thought he was excellent.”
The Bulls (2-2) led by as many as 17 points in the first half and were cruising along with a 90-77 advantage early in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee made things interesting with a 12-2 run, cutting the margin to 3.
Thibodeau sent all five starters back onto the court, and the Bulls held the lead.
Robinson is new to the Bulls, and Tuesday he was even newer to the offense than he had been a day earlier.
“Coach put like four or five new sets in today,” he said. “We just found the guy that was hot. Everybody contributed today, and it was fun to be a part of. We ran the new plays a lot today, got a lot of good shots on them and a lot of good looks.”
Robinson actually was worried about what Thibodeau would say about one play. After a first-half steal, Robinson was headed for an easy layup, then he saw Jimmy Butler trailing the play and instead threw the ball off the backboard for an alley-oop slam.
“I looked back and saw Jimmy running and was like, ‘I know coach is going to be on my butt when I do this. But sometimes you’ve got to risk it,’” Robinson said with a laugh.
“I’m not going to do that again, though, I’ll tell you that. I was just trying to get the crowd involved, get my teammates fired up.”
The backboard alley-oop was not why Robinson was summoned to the quick postgame meeting with Thibodeau.
“I know he will (say something),” Robinson said. “I’m not going to do it again, I’ll tell you that right now. This is preseason. If it’s the playoffs, heck no, I’m laying that up.”
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