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Bulls fall to Mavs in exhibition opener
An announced crowd of 16,440 visited the United Center on Thursday night to see the Bulls debuts of No. 1 pick Derrick Rose and coach Vinny Del Negro.
Nobody knows if their respective careers will arc to triumphant points where, one day, 30,000 will claim to have attended.
On Friday, you might be hard-pressed to get those on hand to admit they were even there.
Exhibition basketball is all about raggedness and working the kinks out, and the Bulls didn't disappoint in a 110-102 loss to Dallas.
Rose overcame a rocky start to finish with 10 points, five assists and six turnovers in 27 minutes.
Del Negro, who had joked his sideline demeanor is a work in progress, rose from his seat infrequently, standing mostly with both hands in his pockets when he did.
Ready or not, a new era has begun, even if Rose might be one of those 16,440 to deny he showed up Thursday.
"I played terrible, if you ask me," Rose said. "You don't want turnovers as a point guard, so for me to get numerous turnovers, it stays on your mind.
"I was anxious but not nervous. Learning your teammates has a lot to do with it. Early in my year in college, I was getting a lot of turnovers. But as the season went on, they went down."
With Joakim Noah still sidelined by an eye injury and Ben Gordon sitting with a sore toe, Del Negro started Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and Drew Gooden.
Despite not playing in the fourth quarter, Deng scored 14 points to tie Aaron Gray and Darius Washington for team-high honors. The Bulls committed 24 turnovers.
"I wasn't particularly pleased with our mental mistakes in the first half," Del Negro said. "We have guys who aren't familiar with the game plan or new offense or new terminology yet. But I thought we competed better in the second half."
Del Negro has paired Rose and Hinrich in the backcourt since the start of training camp and, for the first time, revealed his reasoning.
"Kirk has a really good feel and can guard both positions," Del Negro said.
"He's a veteran guy, which helps Derrick. He has been really helpful working with Derrick in practice, which has been great.
"It takes some pressure off his ballhandling, too, so he can float and Derrick finds him and he gets easier baskets at times. Kirk feels real good in that role. He has not only played well, he has been a leader."
Rose received the loudest ovation during player introductions then immediately found himself matched against Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd.
Welcome to the NBA, right?
"I thought he was spotty in the first half with five turnovers," Del Negro said of Rose. "In the second half, he got more under control.
"I don't want to say he's a project. He's definitely going to make an impact. … He has handled all the tests so far."