LeBron on Bulls: They were well-coached

CLEVELAND -- Vinny Del Negro's most compelling endorsement may have come from none other than LeBron James on Tuesday night.

"I think they were well-coached," James said. "Vinny and that coaching staff had those guys ready. They have a group of young talent that loves to play the game of basketball, and they play hard. There was not one point where they kind of laid down. I think in Game 4 in the third quarter, we just kind of willed ourself to that big lead and just kept getting stops."

But James stopped short of saying the Bulls should bring the embattled head coach back.

"I'm not trying to make a pitch for Vinny or that [coaching staff]" he said. "Because I know what's going on with, "Is Vinny in? Or is Vinny out?" That's not my job. But this team that we played in this series played hard."

Guarding LeBron: How tough is it to guard LeBron? Let Derrick Rose count the ways: "It's tough," Rose said. "For one person to just take over a game, just thinking about it, in high school and college, teams used to beat us by playing team basketball. In high school and sometimes in college, I was the guy who was taking over games. For [James] to do that, it had me going crazy. Like he is really taking over a game like that. He's a great player, great offensively and defensively, especially if you're a driver because he is playing help side. That's why they won the series.

Rose excited about future: James may have gotten the Bulls down, but Rose has little doubt that his squad will land a big-name free agent and become an elite team soon.

"I am very confident," he said. With the team that we had this year, and with all the stuff that was going on, we still made it this far. A lot of people said we weren't going to make the playoffs, but we did with the team that we had and all the trades that we had to overcome. So next year with a legit team, I'm happy about it."

History lesson: Joakim Noah doesn't want past to repeat itself. For the second year in a row, the Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, and he doesn't want that to become a trend.

"I don't want us to be known as the team that always plays hard in the first round," he said. "The goal is to win the series and play in the big games. It's tough to lose right now. I hope it gives us experience playing on the big stage and competing against the best players in the world. Everybody talks about the difference between the regular season and the playoffs and there really is a huge difference in the level of competition. It is just tough right now to lose the way we lost, but it has to make us stronger, and we have to learn from it. Individually, we have to get better in the summer and be ready to roll next year."

The last word: Bulls forward Luol Deng on the season: "We went through a lot. There was a time when we weren't playing great, and we were losing to teams that we shouldn't have. We saw whatever was said on TV, and we went through injuries and developed character. I thought we played hard throughout the season. With everything we went through, we stuck together. I thought at the end of the season we made a good run to make the playoffs, and we gave ourselves a chance."