- This game between one Eastern Conference team and one Western Conference team still manages to have multiple storylines. The Bulls remember their loss at Los Angeles Nov. 17 when the Clippers crushed them 101-80, Chicago’s only double-digit loss of the season. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is a big believer in playing every game the same way, but admitted his players might have that game on their minds. “I just want them to stay consistent with their approach,” Thibodeau said. “Prepare the same way every game. Know what your job is and go out and do your job. I want them to take losses personally, but I want us to understand why we either win or lose, then move forward.”
- At the other locker room, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro spoke about his first return to the United Center as the opposing coach after a tumultous two years as coach of the Bulls from 2008-2010. The Clippers did not visit Chicago last season during the shortened season. “When you are a young coach, you just jump in it and go for it,” Del Negro said. “I learned a lot (in Chicag0). I have to continue to grow as a young coach. Every team is different, every year is different.” The Bulls finished .500 each of the two seasons under Del Negro and made the playoffs, but Del Negro had differences with management and was let go after the 2010 season.
- Both teams have significant winning streaks going into the game. The Clippers are enjoying their second six-game win streak of the season, the first time in Clippers history that a team has had two six-game winning streaks in the same season. The Bulls have won three games in a row for the first time this season but play their next 10 games, including Tuesday, against teams that are .500 or better.
- Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich was listed as a starter Tuesday after hyperextending his left elbow in Saturday’s game against New York. Hinrich left the game late in the first half and did not return, but practiced fully on Monday and in Tuesday’s shootaround.
- The Clippers play in the late game on ESPN Tuesday, then have to travel east one time zone and play against Charlotte at 4:30 Los Angeles time. Similarly, the Bulls travel east for a game against Philadelphia that starts at 6:30 Chicago time Wednesday.
– Kent McDill