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Proving their coach correct
Sometimes Bulls coach Scott Skiles sounds like the only believer.
Last season when the Bulls slumped badly, losing nine straight, he continually said his players would come around and, sure enough, the Bulls did in a dramatic turnaround.
In recent weeks, the Bulls' weaknesses in the low post and general ineptitude had them close to duplicating that nine-game losing streak.
Once again, Skiles sounded a little off the wall with comments like: "Our immediate goal right now is to pick up the paper some morning next week and have us be back in the eighth spot, back in the playoffs, and then try to move up."
After whipping the Memphis Grizzlies 111-82 Saturday night in front of 20,378 fans at the United Center, Skiles' words don't ring so far out, especially with the Bulls back in that eighth playoff spot at 14-19. Their victory ended a five-game home losing streak and came one day after they stopped an eight-game skid at Milwaukee.
Skiles' trust in Kirk Hinrich, despite the third-year guard's trying times recently, was on the money. Hinrich tied a season high by scoring a game-high 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
The Bulls shot a season-high 62.1 percent from the field, 73.3 percent on threes and 81.8 percent from the free-throw line.
"I just like the last two nights how he stepped into his shot with confidence," Skiles said of Hinrich. "He has been able to knock them down, and several of them have come from Ben [Gordon]. So they've played well together."
Hinrich led the Bulls for the second straight game. He scored 18 against Milwaukee.
"It's over now," Hinrich said. "I did it, and now I'm just going to try to do it more consistently and keep winning."
Starting and starring in the backcourt with Hinrich, Gordon added 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Together, Hinrich and Gordon outscored Memphis guards Eddie Jones and Bobby Jackson 47-11.
"Not much to say other than they put a beating on us tonight," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said.
The new starting lineup of Hinrich, Gordon, Othella Harrington, Luol Deng and Michael Sweetney might work out, except for Sweetney, a weak link again with only three points. Harrington stayed on a roll, however, scoring 10 points to turn in his fourth straight game in double figures.
It's too soon to say the Bulls are well on their way. After all, they were 5-10 at home heading into Saturday's game.
"We need to get back to .500 at home," Skiles said. "It's hard for me to even utter that sentence at home. We should be above .500.
"If we play anywhere near close to this, we're going to win those games."