Just wanted to say that the Bulls are in the eastern conferrnce driver's seat. Let's hope they stay there.
Bulls pass Celtics in race for Eastern Conference's top playoff seed
The Bulls aren't chasing anymore.
For weeks, coach Tom Thibodeau has tried to downplay expectations in the chase for the Eastern Conference's top seed, repeating over and over that the Bulls were the ones doing the pursuing of the defending conference champion Celtics.
The Bulls downed the Wizards 98-79 Tuesday night, posting their 12th straight victory at the United Center and their second seven-game winning streak this season. In the process, the Bulls took a half-game lead over the Celtics for the No. 1 playoff seed with 16 to play.
Not surprisingly, Thibodeau preferred talking about the Bulls' defensive collapses rather than the significance of overtaking the Celtics.
"The second-quarter defense was very poor," Thibodeau said. "Our floor balance was bad. (Jordan) Crawford got going on us. I didn't like our whole defense the whole game. I didn't think we contained dribble penetration. They got to loose balls."
Derrick Rose scored 23 points, Luol Deng added 20 and Keith Bogans contributed a season-high 17 to lead the Bulls, who played without Carlos Boozer, which was expected, and Joakim Noah, which was not. Noah arrived at the morning shootaround ill with nausea and team officials sent him home. He rested all afternoon but didn't come to the United Center.
Thibodeau started Kurt Thomas and Taj Gibson up front and altered his rotation, even inserting Brian Scalabrine for three first-quarter minutes. Consistent with a season-long theme, depth delivered another new hero. Bogans sank a season-high five 3-pointers as, one game after making a franchise-record 18, the Bulls went 12-for-32 from beyond the arc.
The Bulls made their first four in building a 14-point, first-quarter lead but missed their next eight until Thomas, of all people, beat the halftime buzzer with one for a meager 50-46 halftime lead. That was Thomas' first 3-pointer in six years.
"Those are the shots that presented themselves," Thibodeau said. "They zoned quite a bit. We had penetration and kickouts. But we have to have balance."
The Bulls then ran away and hid in the second half despite shooting just 40 percent.
"We're playing hard," Rose said. "All the people who filled in helped. We have confidence in everybody."
Crawford's 27 points led the Wizards, who were banged up themselves with three starters out. They dropped to 1-30 on the road despite local product Javale McGee's triple double that featured a career-high 12 blocks. That's also a Bulls' opponent record for a regular-season game.
"We have to continue to improve," Thibodeau said. "The idea is to get the highest seed possible and get the best record possible. If we're doing the right things each day in terms of our preparation and practice, the results will take care of themselves."
Thomas grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds and Gibson added 13 as the Bulls enjoyed a 51-42 rebounding advantage and 24-10 edge in second-chance points.
"We have to stay consistent and hungry," Deng said. "It has been a great year. We want to end it strong."
Great to see the Bulls climbing back on top again. Great starters and great bench.
Bulls hustle to 84-73 victory over Nets
NEWARK If you want a possession that sums up the these Bulls, you could do worse than what transpired Thursday night late in the third quarter of their 84-73 victory over the Nets at Prudential Center.
Ronnie Brewer missed a shot. Omer Asik battled for the rebound, creating a loose ball that he hustled to save inbounds. On the extra possession, Taj Gibson got fouled, sprawling to the floor. As he started to rise, Derrick Rose yelled at him to stop from 10 feet away all so Rose could sprint over and pull up Gibson with a helping hand.
"We have a lot of love on this team and respect for the way we play," Rose said later.
Talent reigns supreme. But the Bulls exhibit the intangibles both on the court with hustle and off it with closeness that make this feel like a special season.
The Bulls reclaimed a half-game lead over the Celtics for the Eastern Conference's top playoff seed with their season-high eighth straight victory, the franchise's longest winning streak since a nine-game surge that ended in April 2005. They snapped the Nets' five-game winning streak despite blowing a 14-point, third-quarter lead and needing clutch plays late.
That Asik hustled to create the extra possession seemed fitting. With Carlos Boozer out, Kurt Thomas in early foul trouble and Joakim Noah returning from the flu at less than 100 percent, Asik posted his first double-double with 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, nine offensive.
"That energy really inspired us," coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Luol Deng's jumper with 3 minutes, 57 seconds left pushed the Bulls ahead for good at 71-69. Rose, who had 21, then scored on a fast-break layup over Brook Lopez following a Deron Willliams turnover. And the Bulls increased the lead to 76-69 when Kyle Korver
"I felt pretty terrible," Noah said. "But I just wanted to try to help my team."
After Rose goaltended Sasha Vujacic's layup, Korver, who had 12, added a 3-pointer with 1:16 to play for a 79-71 lead. The Bulls shot just 40.7 percent but held their 12th opponent in the 70s and tied a season-low with the 73 points allowed.
"That's what we've been doing the whole year, playing defense," Rose said. "If our offense isn't going, we can rely on our defense. We closed down the paint and rebounded."
Indeed, Noah joined Asik in double-figure boards with 10 as they played stretches together for the first time in awhile.
"When you put two 7-footers on the floor, the paint gets shut down," Thibodeau said. "You have shotblocking, altering, strong rebounding. The versatility of our big guys is a huge advantage for us.
"The defense was very good. The rebounding was great. Omer gave us a huge lift. Luol was Luol. You can count on him every night. Derrick made plays in the fourth. And Jo had the big tip-in. He played a hard game for us."
With some help from his friends.
wow who would have thought Rose would be this amazing this early. Glad we kept Noah now
High Fives / Like - 1 High Fives, 0 Dislikes
The Bulls should have traded him for Carmelo. Noah is not bad at all but he's definitely replaceable.
Originally Posted by motownbear
Bulls rally to tie, but can't overtake Pacers in 115-108 overtime setback
INDIANAPOLIS If this eventually proves to be a first-round playoff preview, the Bulls might want to pack some smelling salts for the return engagement.
In easily the most physical game of the season, the Bulls were pushed around early, rallied late and eventually had their eight-game winning streak ended Friday night when the Pacers overcame a fourth-quarter collapse for a 115-108 overtime victory.
The bruises didn't end when the final buzzer sounded. The level of self-flagellation in the postgame locker room proved a season-high as well.
"My turnovers hurt the game, plain and simple," Derrick Rose said. "(Overtime) is the time I'm supposed to take over. And I didn't show up."
About the only good news came when the Celtics lost in Houston, keeping the Bulls 1/2 a game ahead in the race for the Eastern Conference's top playoff seed.
"They hit us in the mouth early and we didn't respond," Taj Gibson said. "We let them set the tone from the jump."
Rose missed 4 of 5 shots and committed one of his four turnovers before fouling out in overtime, where the Pacers scored the first seven points after blowing a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead. Then again, overtime doesn't happen if not for Rose, who scored 19 of the Bulls' final 20 points in regulation as part of his career-high-tying 42 points.
Those included three free throws with 1.2 seconds left when Rose pump-faked Darren Collison and drew a foul on a 3-point attempt, part of his career-high night of 18 free throws on 21 attempts.
"Means nothing at all," Rose said. "We lost."
They can point to a 50-46 rebounding disadvantage, 23 second-chance points for the Pacers and 29 points and 12 rebounds by Tyler Hansbrough as major reasons. Fittingly, Hansbrough began overtime with a jumper after a miss by Luol Deng, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Following three missed shots on one possession and a turnover on the next by Rose, Collison scored. Deng missed a 3-pointer, and Danny Granger, who suffered through a 4-for-11 night, buried his 3-pointer for a 109-102 lead.
"The only quarter we played defense was the fourth," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "In overtime, we did a poor job. You usually get what you deserve. They got 23 second-chance points. That's probably the difference right there. They attacked us and we were back on our heels. In the fourth, we got after them and it changed.
"We have to do a lot better. This is a step backward. We have to come out ready to play. They're a physical team. They killed us on the boards to start the game and we never adjusted. When we don't defend, we're not very good."
Thibodeau also rued the lack of ball movement and quick 3-point shots, where the Bulls went 6-for-27.
"We were searching the 3 out first, not inside-out," he said. "That's fool's gold."
Joakim Noah scored 17 points but grabbed just two defensive rebounds as Thibodeau rode Gibson, who had 16 boards, and Kurt Thomas late. Carlos Boozer missed his fifth straight game with a sprained ankle.
"I can't wait to play them again," Rose said.
Bulls sign Jannero Pargo, John Lucas III; Gibson in walking boot
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- As expected, the Chicago Bulls signed guards John Lucas III and Jannero Pargo on Sunday, and both players practiced.
The pair are expected to provide injury insurance and depth in practices. "We think they're a great fit for us," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Both are high character guys, both are shooters. And it's insurance for us. And it also gives us an opportunity to rest some guys in practice, if we choose to do that." Pargo, a Chicago native who played 63 games for the Bulls last season, had knee surgery and did not stick with the New Orleans Hornets earlier this season. The Bulls waived Lucas on Jan. 4 before his contract was guaranteed for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, Carlos Boozer, who has missed the last five games with a sprained left ankle, practiced Sunday. "I feel good," Boozer said. "I went through practice a little bit. See how it feels [Monday when the Bulls host the Kings]. "The pain's still there. You don't want to be stupid and come back too soon and have a nagging injury. At the same time, if it's ready [Monday], I'd like to go, so we'll just have to wait and see how it goes [Monday]." Neither Taj Gibson nor Luol Deng practiced as both were given a day to rest nagging injuries. Deng has a left thigh bruise while Gibson was in a walking boot Sunday with an injured right big toe. "Knowing me, I should try to play, but we'll see by [Monday] if the swelling goes down," said Gibson, who injured the toe in a collision during Friday's game against the Pacers. "If anything, I'll try to adjust and get as much treatment as possible, hope I can get back on the court early."