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A foul situation for Skiles, Hinrich
Skiles says Hinrich must figure out way to stay on the floor
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Ben Gordon takes a shot over New Jersey's Jamaal Magloire and Bostjan Nachbar on Wednesday. Gordon didn't sign an extension with the Bulls by the deadline, meaning he'll be a restricted free agent after the season.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 11/2/2007 12:17 AM

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Bulls coach Scott Skiles shared some of Kirk Hinrich's frustration following Wednesday's opening-night loss at New Jersey.

Hinrich has had a tendency to find foul trouble during his career, and the issue struck again. During the first three quarters against the Nets, he played just 12 minutes and had 4 fouls.

The Bulls' point guard probably had reason to argue foul No. 5. A minute into the fourth quarter, Hinrich reached in and tried to grab the ball from Richard Jefferson. One referee called a jump ball, but Bennett Salvatore ran in from behind, overruled his colleague, and sent Hinrich to the bench with another foul.

"He had a couple questionable ones," Skiles said Thursday at the Berto Center. "Kirk, oddly enough, it seems to be fairly common that he's in that position. At some point, the onus has to be on Kirk."

On the other side, Hinrich was guarding New Jersey's Vince Carter, who didn't play very well (6-for-21 from the field) but was sent to the foul line 12 times. Skiles, however, did not think Hinrich was a victim of the referees giving special treatment to a star player.

"If something's happening to you over and over again, I think you've really got to look at yourself at some point," Skiles said. "It's easy to say one night, 'Bad call.' But at some point you've got to say, 'I've got to look in the mirror and see what's happening to me out there and correct it.'"

Hinrich did play most of the fourth quarter and overtime before fouling out in the final minute of the 112-103 loss.

Paxson makes promise: Luol Deng and Ben Gordon refused to sign contract extensions by Wednesday's deadline, then surely noticed that Minnesota signed forward Al Jefferson to a reported five-year, $65 million deal.

The Bulls are believed to have made offers in the neighborhood of $50 million over five years to Gordon and Deng, though general manager John Paxson refused to provide any negotiating details Thursday.

"Look, we tried," Paxson said. "Ben and Luol are going to play this year and they'll be restricted free agents next year -- that's their right. We have the opportunity to sign them again next year.

"We have the right to match if there are teams that offer them money, which we'll do. I say it all the time: Those two guys we plan on having here long term."

Several prominent players from the 2004 draft class did not sign extensions, including Charlotte's Emeka Okafor, Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala, plus Josh Smith and Josh Childress from Atlanta.

Orlando's Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, Dallas' Devin Harris, Sacramento's Kevin Martin and Toronto's Kris Humphries did sign extensions.

Duhon does job: Coach Scott Skiles praised the performance of backup point guard Chris Duhon (10 points, 6 assists, no turnovers) against the Nets.

"I thought he was the best player on the floor for us last night," Skiles said. "Defensively, he was sharp. Offensively, he was good. He had nice composure."

Duhon most likely will be the first guard off the bench in tonight's home opener against Philadelphia.

Thabo Sefolosha got the nod in New Jersey when Kirk Hinrich picked up 2 early fouls. But Sefolosha committed a pair of costly turnovers late in the second quarter and didn't play again until the final minute of overtime.

Return to slender: Tyrus Thomas had a relatively quiet night (6 rebounds, 4 points) Wednesday as the Bulls' starting power forward.

Coach Scott Skiles doesn't think the lineup will change anytime soon, but he wants Thomas to fight back against physical play. Quite often when Thomas set a pick he was wrapped in a bear hug by Nets center Jason Collins and was never able to roll to the basket.

"He's got to get off that physical play and use his quickness and get to the front of the rim," Skiles said. "That's one of the issues Ty is dealing with, but so are three or four of our other guys. When you look around, we've got slender players. If you're constantly taking contact out there, it can wear you down."

Tonight's tipoff

Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WMVP 1000-AM

Update: In their season opener at Toronto on Wednesday, the 76ers trimmed a 22-point third-quarter deficit to 1 but lost to the Raptors 106-97. Philadelphia missed the playoffs last year and traded longtime star Allen Iverson but went 20-15 after Feb. 1.

Players to watch: Swingman Andre Iguodala, who did not sign a contract extension this week, led the Sixers with 23 points against Toronto, while sharpshooter Kyle Korver added 20. Newcomer Reggie Evans pulled down 15 rebounds.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center, Saturday

-- Mike McGraw