It's next man up for Bulls, who thrive despite adversity

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah shoots over Amar'e Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah shoots over Amar'e Stoudemire during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, March 2, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Jeff Haynes

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CHICAGO - The Bulls are living, breathing -- and running and rebounding -- evidence that every problem is just an opportunity in disguise. No matter who isn't here, the team seems to thrive with someone who is.

Having lost their star, Derrick Rose, to another season-ending injury and having dispatched Luol Deng in a salary move, they have not lost their stride. The Bulls still look and play a certain way.

"It says a lot about them, says a lot about their team, the character of the players in the locker room and their preparation," Tyson Chandler said Sunday after the Knicks lost to the Bulls, 109-90. "They obviously feel that they can win with whoever they throw out there. It wasn't fun to watch, playing against them. But as a player, you can respect what they're doing."

The Bulls outscored the Knicks 48-20 in the paint, mostly because of their expert passing, relentless ball movement and backdoor cutting.

"They run the offense to a T," J.R. Smith said. "They rebound the ball, play defense. They play an ugly game. That's the way it has to be."

It is no wonder that Bulls vice president of operations John Paxson said in a radio interview last week that coach Tom Thibodeau "isn't going anywhere" and that the Bulls are the best-prepared team in the NBA.

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Thibodeau has a reputation for reviving players' careers. Witness Nate Robinson last season and now D.J. Augustin, who came off the bench for a game-high 23 points Sunday.

Jimmer Fredette is convinced this is the place for him. Had Fredette signed with the Knicks, he at least would have represented a nice uptick in the narrative. The former first-round draft pick is from Glens Falls and always has been a Knicks fan, so he would have been a warm human interest story. But the Knicks did not make an offer.

Mike Woodson said Sunday that "we had already made our moves" by the time the guard was released by the Kings. Fredette had targeted the Bulls, anyway.

"I see how this team plays and they play hard every single night, they play for each other and they play the right way. That's something I was looking for," Fredette said before debuting in the final three minutes and drawing a huge cheer by sinking his first shot. "I'm excited to be here."

Notes & quotes: Both teams wore sleeved shirts. The Knicks are 0-8 this season when they have worn alternate uniforms . . . Iman Shumpert returned after missing five games with a knee injury and started. He scored three points in 19 minutes, 37 seconds . . . Amar'e Stoudemire scored 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting in 23 minutes and said that, given the Knicks' situation, he plans to ignore the usual routine of sitting out the second half of back-to-back games. He expects to play against the Pistons in Detroit Monday night . . . The Bulls face the Nets in Brooklyn Monday night.

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