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Tim Thomas solid in second debut with Bulls
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro complains about a call during his team's loss to Indiana on Sunday.


Associated Press

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Published: 2/23/2009 12:25 AM

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INDIANAPOLIS - There's a reason Bulls general manager John Paxson targeted Tim Thomas and relentlessly pestered Knicks counterpart Donnie Walsh to get a deal done. The acquisition cost the Bulls veteran guard Larry Hughes, but was important to help correct an egregious error from the team's past.

OK, maybe that's not how it actually happened. The Bulls were taking whatever they could get for Hughes. But credit the Bulls' newest Thomas with a job well done in his second Bulls debut on Sunday.

Thomas played just eight minutes in the second half against Indiana, but the Bulls were plus-13 on the scoreboard while he was on the floor, turning a 10-point deficit into a 3-point lead. The 6-foot-10 forward knocked down a 3-pointer on his first shot and finished with 5 points.

"We're just starting to figure it out," Thomas said after the game. "We've got a great group of guys here, young guys with talent. I'll just try to help them out as much as I can and when I do get minutes, try to be productive."

Already, Thomas' second stint with the Bulls has gone better than his first. He was sent home and eventually released after playing just three games early in the 2005-06 season.

The Bulls' recovery from a 69-55 deficit in the third quarter came mostly with all three new players - Thomas, center Brad Miller, and swingman John Salmons - on the floor together.

"Just three old guys out there that have been around the league a long time and understand the basic plays," Miller said. "We got in a good rhythm out there."

Rose leaves early: Rookie guard Derrick Rose was pulled out of Sunday's game just two minutes into the third quarter after Pacers point guard T.J. Ford knocked down a couple of jump shots.

Coach Vinny Del Negro decided to give Kirk Hinrich a try against Ford. The Bulls went on to erase a 14-point deficit, but when Ford scored 9 points in the final 3:54 of the game, 7 of those came against Hinrich and the last basket was a fastbreak dunk after a bad pass by John Salmons.

"(Rose) is still young and he's got to learn defensively," Del Negro said. "When you've got Kirk sitting over there as one of your best defenders and a guy's hurting you, then I've got to get Kirk out there and try to control the penetration. We still weren't able to control T.J. the way we would like. He carves people up a lot."

Rose took the benching in stride. He led the Bulls with 8 assists, but he hit just 1 of 9 shots from the field. Hinrich went 1-for-7.

"I'll never be surprised when I come out," Rose said. "It's the coach's decision and nothing I can do about it. There are games like that when I'm going to miss shots."

Bull horns: Coach Vinny Del Negro's dinner with the new players was canceled Saturday so Brad Miller could visit with family. ... Miller estimated that he's shot 20 percent in his home state of Indiana since being traded from the Pacers to Sacramento in 2003.