The Bulls' 93-76 win Saturday night in Atlanta won't the end-all or be-all of their season.
In fact, while the improbable victory, featuring a short-handed, undersized bunch playing without the services of the injured trio of starters Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich, was certainly inspiring, it will be a mere footnote at the end of the campaign.
"Well, it's a step in the right direction. There's still a long way to go. We've got to keep our concentration on improvement. There's still a lot of things that we can do better and that's what I want our team focused in on. We've got to get ready for Indiana," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after his team dispatched the Hawks. "We're getting closer, but we can do better and we're going to have to do better.
"Going into every game, we always talk about our defense, our rebounding, low turnover, inside-out, share the ball. We feel like if we do that, no matter who we have or where we are, we can win, so you have to understand what goes into that and I think that takes a lot of discipline, it takes a lot of mental toughness and a lot of perseverance. It requires everyone to make a commitment to the team," he continued, an evening after the Bulls gave a valiant effort, but ultimately falling to the Nets in Brooklyn in the first half of the road back-to-back. "I think the big thing was we were disappointed about the way we finished the game [Friday] night, so we wanted to do better and correct the mistakes that we made last night, but the big thing was to be ready for Atlanta [Saturday]. You can't let [Friday's] game carry over to this game. Come in, have great concentration in the walk-through, start the game ready, get a lead, play from a lead and then, try to play for 48 minutes. I thought we played a good game [Friday] night; we didn't play for 48 minutes and often times, it's one or two possessions that can change everything."
Luol Deng, who filled the stat sheet—24 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocked shots, all while playing out of position at power forward, matched up against a formidable foe in the versatile, athletic and bigger Josh Smith—concurred: "We played great. I thought we played hard [Friday] night. We spoke before the game about how hard we played. We were happy with that, but we just told each other, 'You play hard, but you don't get the win, you don't get rewarded for that,' so we definitely wanted to play the whole game, play the whole 48 minutes. I thought [Friday] night we didn't do that.
Bulls' determination, willpower makes them special
CSN Chicago | Feb 4