Bulls hope to regain swagger against Rockets
November 20, 2012, 6:41 pm
HOUSTON—A dominant defense. A nightly advantage on the glass.
A bench that not only maintained, but extended leads on a consistent basis—or, in the case that the starters were behind, often took control of the game. Chemistry that led to teammates recognizing the hot hand and when they didn’t have it going themselves, making timely plays that didn’t involve scoring.
The aforementioned traits were all hallmarks of the Bulls the last two seasons and while they may eventually reappear, in the present, they’re largely absent. It goes without saying that in sidelined superstar Derrick Rose’s absence, the squad doesn’t have that one, dynamic, game-changing equalizer to rescue them, but that didn’t stop past editions of the Bulls from being successful in their blue-collar, hard-nosed fashion.
The departure of the “Bench Mob” has been perhaps overly discussed, but while the reputations of their individual abilities is now more myth than fact—it must be remembered that upon Tom Thibodeau’s arrival over two years ago, the Bulls’ bench wasn’t exactly mythologized and to be honest, the group was regarded as a bit flawed and underwhelming before they hit their stride—the spirit of the departed reserves, including holdover Taj Gibson, is what made them special. But throughout the young campaign, that nightly passion, determination and most significantly, defensive focus, have dwindled.
“It’s more the process. I want us doing the right things and so, every game, you evaluate the things that you think are necessary to win and for us, it’s always the same. It’s the defense, the rebounding, the inside-out, the low turnovers, the sharing the ball,” Thibodeau explained before the team’s Tuesday afternoon practice at the Toyota Center, where his team will take on the Rockets, one of his many former employers, Wednesday evening.
“When you evaluate are you doing things correctly, you can sometimes do things correctly and they [opponents] can make [shots]. The problem is, when you’re not doing things correctly, to understand the difference and make the necessary corrections, so you can improve and right now, they’re a number of things we’re doing, and some things we’re doing well.
“We started off the season not challenging shots as well as I would like. I think we’re covering the three-point line better, but our turnovers, putting opponents into the open floor has hurt us, particularly on the road, so that’s something that we have to change, and then we have to play for 48 minutes. Right now, there’s some good sequences, some bad sequences, but we have to be more consistent,” continued the coach, who noted that “we’ll see how it unfolds,” when asked specifically if there would be changes to his rotation.
“The second quarter has been an area we have to clean up. Offensively, we’re starting the games strongly. We’re inside-out, we’re shooting a good percentage, we’re scoring. But the tone of the game is not a defensive tone and then in the second quarter, we’re being hurt in a lot of different areas, mainly the turnovers. So, that’s something that we have to get corrected and then, we’re in a hole and we usually make a run to come back, but that’s difficult to overcome, particularly on the road, when you’re fighting a double-digit deficit.”
Against the Rockets, a similarly spiraling team and losers of three consecutive outings after a fast start to the season, the Bulls will look to bounce back before returning to the Midwest—they will fly back to Chicago after Wednesday’s game, then play Saturday in Milwaukee to conclude their annual “Circus Trip”—preferably with a record over the .500 mark. It won’t necessarily easy, however, as reeling Houston does possess talent, as Jeremy Lin, last season’s phenom, combines with early-season blockbuster acquisition James Harden for an explosive backcourt, and former Bulls backup Omer Asik anchors one of the NBA’s youngest team in the middle.
“[Harden is] a great player, so he keeps a lot of pressure on you. It’s his ability to shoot, his ability to put it on the floor and then, of course, his ability to draw fouls. Then, you combine him with Lin in the backcourt, very dynamic and then, they run the floor extremely well. They play with energy, they shoot a lot of threes,” Thibodeau said. “[Chandler] Parsons is one of the most underrated players in the league. He’s really coming on strongly and so is [Patrick] Patterson.
“We know that defensive transition and covering the line will be critical.”
So will getting back their old swagger.
, Chicago Bulls
, Tom Thibodeau
, Derrick Rose
, milwaukee bucks
, Taj Gibson
, Aggrey Sam
, houston rockets
, Jeremy Lin
, Patrick Patterson
, james harden
, Omer Asik
, Chandler Parsons
, Bench Mob