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· Skokie, IL 60076
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CAROL SLEZAK

Besides, the Bulls have failed to excite anyone all season long. Why would fans invest in them now? The season has been an exercise in patience, and the offseason can't come soon enough. The Bulls have raised more questions than they've answered this season, starting with this one: Whose team is this?

It's Kirk Hinrich's team. No, its Ben Gordon's team. Or maybe its becoming Luol Deng's team. It's tough to tell. On any given night, the Bulls can be anyone's team. Andres Nocioni has taken his turn. Chris Duhon and Tyson Chandler, too. Unfortunately, the Bulls have been no one's team all too often.

The best teams in the league have at least one thing in common: a leader. The Miami Heat is Shaquille O'Neal's team. The San Antonio Spurs belong to Tim Duncan. The Dallas Mavericks belong to Dirk Nowitzki. The Detroit Pistons? Chauncey Billups. Sure, all these guys have help. O'Neal has Dwyane Wade. Duncan has Tony Parker. Nowitzki has Jason Terry. Billups has Richard Hamilton and a whole lot more. But until you identify your No. 1 guy, the rest can't fall into place.

No go-to player

The Bulls want Hinrich to be their No. 1, and he has looked like that guy at times. But after three years in the league, it's still not clear if he's the answer. His shooting percentage has risen some this season. But when it comes down to the final seconds of a tight game, the Bulls still don't have a go-to guy. Hinrich hasn't been that guy. And Gordon, who routinely took games over in the fourth quarter last season, has struggled for much of this season.

It's no wonder the Bulls have lost so many close games. It's not just about missing the last shot; it's about knowing who you are as players and as a team. The Bulls still are figuring that out.

Sure, their lack of inside scoring is to blame for a lot of their struggles, but not all of them. Look at the Mavericks, who do a pretty good job of winning with a guard-oriented offense. Or the Denver Nuggets, who consist of Carmelo Anthony and not much more.
http://www.suntimes.com/output/slezak/cst-spt-carol26.html
 
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