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Tribune: Confident Bulls set for West Trip, and the Sun-times road story


A year ago at this time, the team was on its way to an 0-9 start, but the Bulls started to turn their season around at the end of the circus trip. They finally ended their annual lessons in humility with a victory at Utah.

"Now we want to make a better streak where we go out and win some games instead of losing," guard Chris Duhon said. "We have the team to do it."

That's another first, as in the first time such words don't ring hollow.

Compared to previous seasons, their confidence is sky-high.

"Last year going out there, we probably didn't have any confidence," guard Kirk Hinrich said.

The trip still is a daunting task, and the Bulls have a tendency to be as shaky as they are resilient. But there are several reasons to believe the Bulls can win half the games against six opponents from the West in a two-week period.

No one has been able to say that in years.
On the Bench:

Behind Luol Deng and Ben Gordon, the Bulls' bench narrowly outscored the starters 52-51 against the Jazz. Deng, Gordon and Michael Sweetney could be starters on most teams. No one will be surprised if Deng and Sweetney sneak into the starting lineup before too long.

"I don't know that there's a whole lot of difference between our bench guys and our starters," Skiles said. "That's kind of our makeup right now. I just like to be greedy and have both—be able to start the game well and also get production from the bench." - Hanley's story in the Sun-Times:

While this trip has been a benchmark in futility for the Bulls in recent years, Skiles tried to accentuate the positives.

"There will be a couple teams after that trip that we'll be done with,'' he said, citing the Warriors and Spurs. "And certainly it will be nice to be done with San Antonio at the end of that trip. We've assured ourselves a split with [Utah] and a split with Golden State. Hopefully we can just play with energy out there and get a couple wins.''

As for the ghosts of terrible trips past, Hinrich has no reason to believe this team -- which has five new members -- is haunted by history.

"I don't think anybody on this team is going to go out there like, 'Oh, God, it's the West Coast road trip,''' Hinrich said. "Everybody's going out there to win games and compete. We've played with some pretty good effort. We've got to go out there with the mind-set to win games and be ready to play. We know we haven't had any success in the past playing out there.
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