The Bulls finished their pre-All-Star-break home stand undefeated as they defeated the Brooklyn Nets 92-76 to close out the first half of the season on a three-game winning streak.
The Nets entered the game having won four out of their last five, but on the second night of a back-to-back, the Bulls (27-25) held them to 38.8 percent shooting and outrebounded them 45-27. The Bulls also finished with 26 assists on 35 made field goals.
“I thought our ball movement throughout the night was very good and the rebounding was probably the difference,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Taj Gibson led five Bulls, who finished in double figures in scoring with 16 off the bench. Carlos Boozer returned from a three-game absence and finished with his 16th double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Joakim Noah added 14 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks before making his way down to New Orleans as the team’s lone representative.
“It’s going to be fun,” Noah said about his weekend in New Orleans. “It’s going to be weird, awkward and fun all at the same time.”
“I’m really happy we won. I’m going to enjoy my night, tonight. I’m going to enjoy my night tomorrow night and I’m going to enjoy my night the night after that; and then I’ll worry about the second half of the season.”
The first half of the season for the Bulls has been one to forget after losing Derrick Rose again for the season, just 10 games into what everyone was hoping could be a title run. Then, came the team trading Luol Deng last month, which signaled that management had its eye towards the future rather than trying to accomplish anything much this season.
“When you lose one of your brothers like that to an injury like that for the second time, it’s tough,” Noah said. “I think that all these situations, all this adversity we’ve gone through is just going to make us better and it’s going to make it that much better when we get it.”
That “it” remains what the Bulls are continuing to play for. What that “it” actually is? No one knows, (probably not even them). But through the work that’s put in, guys committing and buying in along with holding teams to the second lowest point total in the league, they’re right in the mix for home court advantage for the postseason, which is an accomplishment in itself when you consider all they’ve been through thus far.
“I’m loving the way we’re playing right now,” Jimmy Butler said. “We are coming together as a team, guarding, a lot of energy out there and a lot of smiles. If you’re having fun when you’re out doing it, there’s no better way to do it.”