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Skiles mulling lineup changes
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/13/2007 12:10 AM

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Following a marathon practice session, Bulls coach Scott Skiles didn't even wait to be asked if he was considering lineup changes. He volunteered the fact that Monday's workout contained a few chemistry experiments.

"Everything's in play right now," Skiles said at the Berto Center. "A good manager's going to change things if they're not working, and a bad one's probably going to hesitate and wait too long.

"I'm not saying for sure that I will, but we're going to look at it. Today we looked at a couple of different things, and we're going to look at it again tomorrow and then we'll make a decision."

If the Bulls make any changes in the starting lineup, it won't be to punish any particular players. All five starters have underachieved during the team's 1-5 start.

It wouldn't be a shock if Skiles decided to start Chris Duhon instead of Ben Gordon or Joe Smith over Tyrus Thomas. A slumping Kirk Hinrich is no lock to remain a starter, either.

Two of the most likely maneuvers, though, are playing time for steady veteran Adrian Griffin and seeing if shooting guard Thomas Gardner can do any better than ice-cold Thabo Sefolosha. Gardner has been inactive for all five games, while Griffin has yet to see any action after missing all of the preseason with a back injury.

"We're not going to do anything crazy," Skiles said. "But 1-5, is that the right time (for lineup changes)? Is it 1-9? It's not even so much the record, it's the way that we've played.

"This is a little bit different than just you want to hold two guys accountable or anything like that. We have to find a way to get shocked out of our malaise a little bit. It's probably going to have to come initially from me and then we'll see what happens."

Fans free to boo: General manager John Paxson has the backs of those fans who have booed the Bulls at the United Center or started chanting for Kobe Bryant.

"It's an ugly thing, but they have a right to do it," Paxson said. "They're the ones that pay my salary, the coaches' salaries and the players' salaries.

"You sometimes forget the people sitting up in the 300 level that use their entertainment (budget) on coming to see you play. When you play the way we played the other night and the way we played early this year, they have every right to go after us."

Paxson is hoping the players use the heckling audience as inspiration, not as an excuse to be even more uptight.

"You hope that players don't go into a shell," he said. "You want them to say, 'Look, I'm going to have some pride in what I'm doing and we're going to get this thing together and these people booing us, today we'll make them happy.'

"It has happened the last few years. That's not a guarantee it's going to happen again. Believe me, I know that."

Skiles stuck on Suns: This year's circus trip is shorter than usual, with just four games out West before Thanksgiving. But the first opponent, Phoenix on Thursday, has coach Scott Skiles worried.

"That's a difficult team," he said. "Because of Steve (Nash), they make you play a certain way. So if I'm entertaining changing the lineup, which I am, they can make you look bad if you're not ready to change ends and really ready to play."