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Article posted: 11/1/2013 8:43 PM

It's early, but Bulls not clicking

Joakim Noah, left, reacts after Derrick Rose scored during the first half of Thursday’s game against the Knicks in Chicago.

Joakim Noah, left, reacts after Derrick Rose scored during the first half of Thursday's game against the Knicks in Chicago.

 

Associated Press

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After a perfect preseason, the numbers through two real games are a little strange for the Bulls.

•Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Mike Dunleavy are all shooting less than 30 percent from the field.

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•Luol Deng leads the team in assists (5.0 per game) but hasn't done much scoring (10.5 points).

•Meanwhile, Carlos Boozer is the team's leading scorer at (22.5 ppg) while shooting 72 percent from the field.

The Bulls have gone 1-1 against two projected Eastern Conference contenders. But that 8-0 preseason probably obscured the fact that the Bulls' starting lineup of Rose, Deng, Noah, Boozer and Jimmy Butler had never played together in a game -- not in preseason; not for a single minute -- until tip-off in Miami.

"I wouldn't say we're lost, but the chemistry part, it can always get better," Rose said Friday at the Berto Center. "If anything, we have a great upside. We could be a great team and we know all of us have been working out individually super hard. When you have that going, all it is is timing and rhythm and everybody will be going together."

The Bulls' offense may not be far from running smoothly. They moved the ball well during most of Thursday's 82-81 victory over New York. They didn't always finish well and when the Knicks got surprisingly scrappy on defense in the fourth quarter, the Bulls coughed up a 10-point lead.

Fortunately for the home team, Rose dropped in a high-arching one-hander over Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton with 5.7 seconds left to pull out the win.

In the opener at Miami, a 17-0 run by the Heat in the second quarter -- while Deng and Butler were on the bench with foul trouble -- played a huge role in a 12-point loss.

During the month of October, coach Tom Thibodeau spoke daily about how the Bulls need to develop winning habits and not skip steps in training camp. Now with everyone finally healthy, it seems like they're starting from Day One in some respects.

"I wouldn't say it's still going on because in training camp, there was a lot more running," Rose said with a laugh. "It's something that's just going to come with time. It's only the second game. People are looking at it like we played 10, 20 games already. We're just trying to get used to each other and that's something that is going to come quick."

After the New York game, Thibodeau pegged practice as the best solution to the Bulls' offensive issues. They didn't do much Friday besides watch film and do some shooting.

"The only way you can get timing and spacing is having people practice together," Thibodeau said. "That's something we're working toward."

What worked in preseason isn't working now. That much is clear.

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