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News » Rookie Gibson sparkles

Rookie Gibson sparkles

Rookie Gibson sparklesBefore the Bulls opened the preseason with a 104-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at Conseco Fieldhouse, Taj Gibson said he experienced a typical case of rookie nerves.

''My heart was beating really fast because it's your first game, it's the NBA,'' he said. ''The veterans helped me to calm down a lot, but it's hard, your first game after three years of college.

''I just tried to go out there and have fun and improve. It's all about getting better, trying to help the team win any way I can.''

Gibson looked like anything but a rookie in the game, scoring a team-high 19 points (6-for-12 shooting) and grabbing nine rebounds in just under 30 minutes. It would be unrealistic to expect that kind of production in a regular-season game, but the 6-9 power forward showed he's capable of breaking into the team's frontcourt rotation.

''Taj is like the Energizer Bunny: He just keeps on coming at you,'' Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. ''He shoots it better than you think, and he's pickin' and poppin'. He's long, he had some nice box-outs and good rotations defensively, so just a great effort for a rookie in his first exhibition game. That's a good sign for us.''

Gibson was so impressive, he overshadowed Luol Deng's return to the court after missing the last 2? months of the regular season and the playoffs with a stress fracture. Deng had 15 points in 24 minutes and said his leg felt fine.

''It was good to play out there and get a rhythm going,'' he said. ''It's been awhile since I've played.''

After trailing 43-41 at halftime, the Bulls outscored the Pacers 34-19 in the third quarter for a 75-62 lead heading into the fourth.

The fact that Derrick Rose (17 points) led the way in the third with seven points was no surprise, but Gibson adding six points in 7? minutes was a surprise.

After the draft, and even during the first week of training camp, Gibson was described as an energy player who could provide a spark on defense and on the boards. No one mentioned his jump shot, but he showed a solid medium-range jumper (15 to 18 feet) throughout.

The Bulls began with their projected opening-day lineup of Rose and John Salmons at guard, Deng and Tyrus Thomas at forward and Joakim Noah at center.

But the list of reserves available to Del Negro on Friday wasn't as deep and talented as what the Bulls normally have. Kirk Hinrich (hamstring), Brad Miller (groin) and Jannero Pargo (wrist) sat out with minor injuries.

With Aaron Gray (stress fracture, lower left leg) and Jerome James (recovering from Achilles surgery), the Bulls had only 10 players available.

That number dropped to nine in the third quarter when Thomas suffered a concussion after taking a charge. Thomas took the blow to the midsection, then felt a little dizzy and didn't return.

He wasn't sure if he hit his head and reported only a headache after the game.

NOTES: With the league lockout of the referees still in effect, three replacement officials -- Kevin Scott, Karl Lane and William Mensah -- worked the game. The league has hired 62 replacement referees, most of whom were moved up from the NBA Development League, to fill in during the lockout.

- The Bulls reduced their roster to 15 before the game by waiving Curtis Stinson, a 6-3 rookie guard from Iowa State.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 6, 2009


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