Sure, the Bulls' 97-81 victory over the Bucks looked nice, especially with starters' minutes increasing and the recently injured Ben Gordon and Luol Deng showing spurts of progress despite 5-of-13 shooting from Gordon.
Nor did seeing Andres Nocioni sitting with a strained right calf, which Nocioni said has no correlation to the plantar fasciitis in his right foot that plagued him last season.
Add the sight of Tyrus Thomas retreating to the locker room to have his injured right foot examined and it seems almost cruel to mention the Bulls open their regular season in five days against the Nets.
How many healthy players the Bulls have might be another matter. After all, rookie Joakim Noah then limped off early in the fourth quarter after spraining his right ankle while trying to block a shot.
"Off the cuff, it sounded like the doctors thought they're not serious," coach Scott Skiles said of the injuries.
Indeed, X-rays were negative on all three players. Still, minor injuries are nagging nonetheless. And for a Bulls team that has been plagued by minor injuries all preseason, Thursday added yet another disjointed wrinkle.
"We didn't see anything on the film," Wallace said. "It hurt. But I don't think it's going to cost me any serious time. We need to get some work done. Hopefully, I can get out there and do some running and jumping."
Said Noah: "I'm in a little bit of pain, but I don't think I should be out for too long."
League rules dictate that when the season opens Wednesday in New Jersey somebody will start at power forward. But the Bulls changed there again against the Bucks with Thomas replacing Aaron Gray. Is P.J. Brown available?
"I don't feel like anybody has grabbed hold of that position, which is what I would have liked to have seen," Skiles said. "Joe Smith, he's the one guy it has been unfair for because he got hurt and didn't get a chance."
Thomas finished with six points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. Smith added 12 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
Smith's minor knee injury earlier in the preseason and Gray's lack of mobility would seem to hand the spot to Thomas on a silver platter. Yet asked to assess Thomas' preseason, Skiles didn't hesitate.
"Fair," he said. "He's able to play for longer stretches without getting totally fatigued and losing focus. But he's still not where ultimately he will be. He's moving in the right direction. And that's great. Let's just hope he keeps doing so."
Thomas is pleased with his development.
"The majority of my mistakes last [season] were mental mistakes," he said. "So I know that focus and preparation were important for me to improve. Physically and athletically, I can play with anybody in this league. I just need to get better at the mental aspect."
Thomas didn't seem concerned about Gray's two-game experiment as a starter. Gray didn't appear against the Bucks until replacing Wallace to start the second half.
"I don't think I played myself out of [the lineup], so I didn't think it was anything I did," Thomas said. "Even if it was, I'm just here to play and help my team win. If that means coming off the bench …"
Thomas' words trailed off. But Skiles gave at least an indication into his thinking about the starting role.
"You would like to have as many veterans in your starting lineup as you could get, or the most experience," he said. "That just may not be the case for us.
"We also have to find out where we can get scoring in the second unit having our three main scorers in the first unit. Joe could be a logical guy, a guy who could knock down some shots along with Aaron."
Gordon, playing in his second exhibition, had 11 points. Deng returned from a wrist injury to finish with 12 points.
LayupsWith five days until the deadline for contract extensions, Gordon and Deng aren't close to signing. Talks have been in the $50 million range for five seasons. That's more than the $47.5 million Kirk Hinrich signed for last season. Those talks also didn't look good until just before the deadline. … The Bulls finished their exhibition schedule 4-3. … JamesOn Curry removed the wrap on his left, non-shooting hand that he had been wearing all preseason to protect a sore thumb.