Fittest loser
Article updated: 12/25/2012 9:58 PM

Rockets' McHale not about to step on Asik's toes

Houston Rockets' James Harden, center, battles Chicago Bulls' Kirk Hinrich, right, and Jimmy Butler, left, for a loose ball during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Houston Rockets' James Harden, center, battles Chicago Bulls' Kirk Hinrich, right, and Jimmy Butler, left, for a loose ball during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

 
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Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale was one of the greatest post scorers in NBA history. So far, though, he's given little individual instruction to ex-Bull Omer Asik.

"We've done some stuff, but not too much," McHale said before Tuesday's game. "He had a lot of adjustments to make. The last thing he in the world needed was thinking about 10 other things, so we tried to narrow it down for him. He's going to keep progressing."

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McHale was also asked if he projected this sort of success for Asik, who played limited minutes during two seasons with the Bulls. Heading into Tuesday's game, Asik ranked fourth in the league in rebounds at 11.4 per game and averaged 10.6 points.

"You liked what you saw in short minutes," McHale said. "I was saying, 'Every coach wants to win. So if the guy is playing short minutes, why is he playing short minutes?' I think in Omer's case, it was just really a matter of they had a really solid front line. They have (Joakim) Noah, who's fantastic. (Taj) Gibson's really good."

Answers short, sweet:

Rockets center Omer Asik has never been the most eloquent interview. During his two seasons with the Bulls, the Turkey native declined most requests, saying he wasn't comfortable speaking English.

When Asik returned to Chicago on Tuesday, he asked a small group of reporters if he could wait until after the game to talk, but finally relented. The answers were short.

On playing starter's minutes in Houston: "It's fun."

On whether it's strange playing against his former teammates: "I played (against them) in Houston (on Nov. 21). I don't think it's weird anymore."

On playing for the Rockets: "It's been fun. We're a young team. We're getting to know each other, playing better every game."

On visiting Chicago: "It's a little weird, but it's OK. I've been here (the United Center) a lot. We came back late last night. It's a little bit cold, but it's OK."

Teague a gridiron prodigy:

Bulls rookie Marquis Teague will make his first trip back to his hometown of Indianapolis on Wednesday when the Bulls face the Pacers.

Even though his father, Shawn, played at Boston University for Rick Pitino and older brother Jeff was on his way to the NBA, Marquis' first love was football.

"I used to average like five or six touchdowns," he said. "I did a lot of quarterback sneaks, a lot of running. I didn't throw it too much. I threw it a little bit, but I ran more than anything."

He gave up football cold turkey in sixth grade and switched to basketball.

"The (high school football) coaches were on me," he said. "They wanted me to play, but I was good. I can't play in the winter time. I don't like when it gets cold outside. I like playing in the gym."

Bull horns:

Coach Tom Thibodeau didn't want to project a return date for Richard Hamilton, who tore the plantar fascia in his left foot on Dec. 1. "We're just going day to day," he said. "When he's ready to go, he'll go. He's doing a lot more right now." ... Thibodeau saw a silver lining to the Bulls losing backup center Omer Asik in free agency. "I think Jo (Noah) playing more minutes has helped Jo develop," he said. "We liked having both of them. It didn't work out for us. We're happy for him. He's a great guy."

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