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Chicago Bulls point guard D.J. Augustin (14) fouls Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio (9) during the first half of their game at the United Center in Chicago on Monday, Jan., 27, 2014. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Jerry Reinsdorf calls Bulls 'a mediocre team' but upbeat about future

CHICAGO -- The NBA's second-ranked offense trumped the second-ranked defense Monday night at the United Center.

Specifically, the Minnesota Timberwolves downed the Chicago Bulls 95-86, snapping a seven-game skid in the series.

And more accurately, the second-ranked offense bested the second-ranked defense missing an ill Joakim Noah and injured Kirk Hinrich, two of the Bulls' best defenders.

The loss dropped the Bulls back to .500, continuing this up-and-down, injury-plagued season. That's why Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, in an interview with WGN's Rich King that aired Monday night, shot straight.

"Obviously, we're a mediocre team this year, a middle-of-the-pack team," Reinsdorf told King. "Looks like we probably will make the playoffs but we don't know for sure. But we're not that bad. When Derrick (Rose) comes back, that gets us a top-five player and we've got a lot of things going for us.

"We have the rights to (Nikola) Mirotic, who's probably the best player in Europe. He's going to come either this year or the following year at the latest."

Reinsdorf also cited the Bobcats' first-round pick from the Tyrus Thomas trade and a potential first-round pick from the Kings acquired in the Luol Deng trade to the Cavaliers.

"We're not starting from scratch," Reinsdorf said. "We still have Noah and Derrick and (Mike) Dunleavy and Taj Gibson and (Carlos) Boozer. We've got a pretty good base.

"The future looks good, and you have to be proud of the way they've played this year. We've had games where we've had one starter and they never give up. That's a reflection of the coach and also on the general manager. Since he's been here, he's been able to get the kind of player that our coach can coach."

Most importantly, Reinsdorf said that Rose "should be back and probably playing basketball this summer sometime" and that he and doctors believe he'll recover fully from meniscus surgery.

"He should be the same Derrick he always was," Reinsdorf said.

Kevin Love dropped 31 points and eight rebounds on the Bulls, most of them coming against Noah's replacement, Gibson. Love entered as the league's No. 4 scorer at 24.8 points per game and No. 2 rebounder at 13 per game.

Noah didn't participate in the morning shootaround but arrived at the United Center hoping to play before getting sent home. With Noah missing just his second game this season, the Bulls were forced to employ their 18th lineup in 44 games.

Boozer led the Bulls with 20 points and 14 rebounds, joining Gibson (10 and 10) with double-doubles. Jimmy Butler at least temporarily snapped out of a shooting slump with 16 points.

Ronny Turiaf added a season-high 14 points for the Timberwolves, playing extensively after starting center Nikola Pekovic left in the first quarter with a sore right Achilles tendon. Minnesota's bench outscored the Bulls' 35-11.

The Bulls dropped to 4-10 against the Western Conference.

"They're a very good offensive team," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "But we're usually more disciplined defensively."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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