Last two games, Butler first sub of second half
Jimmy Butler dunks against the Bucks' Monta Ellis on Wednesday. In the Bulls' last two games, Butler has been the first sub off the bench in the third quarter.
During the past two games, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has altered his substitution pattern from the first half to the second.
In the first quarter, Marco Belinelli was the first player off the bench, subbing for Richard Hamilton. In the third quarter, Thibodeau sent Jimmy Butler in for Hamilton.
Bulls game day
Bulls vs. Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center, 6:30 p.m. Friday
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: ESPN AM-1000
Update: This is the Bulls' first trip to the borough of Brooklyn. The Nets (27-19) have gone 13-5 since replacing coach Avery Johnson with P.J. Carlesimo, but were clobbered at home 105-85 by Miami on Wednesday. C Brook Lopez, an all-star selection, leads Brooklyn at 18.6 points and 7.3 rebounds. SG Joe Johnson at 17.1 points, followed by PG Deron Williams at 17.0. The Nets shot just 38.7 percent from the field while losing to the Bulls 83-82 in Chicago on Dec. 15. The Bulls are 11-2 in Eastern Conference road games.
Next: Atlanta Hawks on Saturday at Philips Arena, 6 p.m.
— Mike McGraw
Ever since Luol Deng was sidelined by a hamstring injury on Jan. 18, it's been impossible to keep Butler off the floor. The second-year forward from Marquette has averaged 15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and shot 51 percent from the field in the last eight games.
Now that Deng is healthy again, Thibodeau has become a fan of playing Butler and Deng together, giving the Bulls a versatile defensive lineup.
"With Jimmy and Lu, you can go big at the two (shooting guard) or you can go small at the four (small forward), and both guys can play both positions," Thibodeau said. "You can put them on big guys and they can outquick those guys. You can put them on small guys where a small guy has to guard one of them and you can post them.
"So there's an advantage to it and it becomes more of a power (low-post) game. When it becomes more a power game, that allows us to get back and get set. Then our defense is that much tougher."
Brooklyn angers LeBron:
The Bulls make their first trip to the new Barclays Center to face the Brooklyn Nets tonight. The Nets made news this week when power forward Reggie Evans made comments about the Miami Heat's championship that were perceived as insulting.
"It doesn't prove nothing," Evans said in the New York Daily News. "That was a lockout season."
That line didn't go over well with LeBron James, who criticized Evans after Miami rolled to a 105-85 victory in Brooklyn on Wednesday.
"You can't just come out and say something like that versus a champion," James told reporters after the game. "No one knows what it takes unless you've done it. You can't sit here and judge and talk about a team winning a championship unless you've done it. (Evans) hasn't done it."
James tacked on a jab about departed Nets coach Avery Johnson. Brooklyn has gone 13-5 since firing Johnson and replacing him with assistant P.J. Carlesimo.
"(The Nets) just picked up the intensity level," James said. "You can tell that they like to play for P.J. ... It (stinks) that Avery had to take the hit of them not wanting to play at a high level."
Cartwright coaching again:
Bill Cartwright, a longtime Bulls player and former head coach, has a new job. He's coaching Osaka Evessa in the Japan League.
The team was 5-19 when Cartwright took over, then won his first two games on the bench last week. This weekend's set of games at Okinawa is supposed to be a tougher challenge.
Cartwright last worked in the NBA as an assistant to Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry.
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