Tony Snell had clanked 11 of 13 shots through three exhibitions before dropping 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting Wednesday night that included a missed breakaway against the Pistons.
But his shooting woes didn't prevent him from placing the proverbial apple on the teacher's desk of coach Tom Thibodeau.
"As long as I'm playing good defensively, my confidence is always going to stay up," Snell said.
A long shot for regular rotation minutes, Snell finally displayed the shooting touch management fell in love with when it was scouting the former New Mexico forward. His wingspan and work ethic should allow him eventually to become a strong wing defender.
"I'm learning the system," Snell said. "It's still fast-paced, but I'm in shape now and feel great in the weight room. So it's slowing down a little bit.
"It felt great to hit some shots. I got a little flow going in the warm-ups. They just told me to keep shooting and eventually I would find my shot. I knew my offense was going to come. As long as my defense is consistent, I'm fine."
As for that missed breakaway, Snell took some good-natured ribbing from teammates. Snell rose and appeared torn between dunking and laying in the ball.
"I should have dunked it," he said. "I'm still learning."
Game on: The Oct. 5 exhibition opener between the Bulls and Pacers featured Joakim Noah -- in street clothes with a groin injury -- trash-talking David West and Roy Hibbert from the bench. The Pacers returned fire.
Preseason or not, this rivalry is real. And the teams meet twice during the Bulls' first eight regular-season games.
"All our games are hard-fought, physical, real intense," Taj Gibson said. "Neither team is going to back down from the other."
Layups: The Bulls will be trimming their camp roster soon and all signs continue to point to Mike James landing the final roster spot. ... The Bulls took Thursday off. Jimmy Butler remains day-to-day with a bruised left knee. ... Think Thibodeau is in regular-season form? Asked specifically about Snell, he talked about the second unit in general. "We were outscored 28-20 in the fourth quarter," he said. "That's something we have to do better. We held onto the ball, made quick decisions and got into trouble. And our defense was non-existent."
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