Without the services of Derrick Rose, the Bulls have had to rely on a gritty, grind-it-out, find-ways-to-win style the past two seasons, which has made for some less than attractive basketball.Thursday’s 94-82 win over the Boston was especially gritty.
There were a total of 45 fouls called, 51 free throws taken and 33 turnovers between the two clubs. Surprisingly, the Bulls (13-18) played pretty sound basketball, distributing 26 assists of their 35 field goals and holding onto and building they established in the third, which was what was their undoing in Tuesday night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Despite being outrebounded 48-41 and the turnovers (13, which led to 21 points for Boston), another negative was the team desperately to try and help Joakim Noah achieve what would have been his fourth career triple-double. Noah finished just one assists shy, adding 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“I was trying to get it. Didn’t happen,” Noah said. “It’s all good, we won. It’s not a good look to play like that, but we tried to do it anyway.”
Noah was one of seven Bulls that finished in double-figures in scoring. It was a balanced effort as no starter played more than 33 minutes.
“I thought quick decisions, the ball moving; I thought the defense was solid throughout,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The rebounding wasn’t great, but I liked the way we moved the ball.
“The end of the game, we obviously got to do better. And we were trying to run through (Noah) because of the ball pressure. That’s something that we have to work on and clean up. But I thought there were a lot of good things that we did to build the lead.”
The first half was a whistle-spree with 26 fouls called and technical assessed to both Thibodeau and Carlos Boozer.
Mike Dunleavy even got in on the technical fun, picking up his first of the season, with 4:01 remaining in the third after arguing a no-call, and the Bulls ahead by six. The normally even keel small forward then proceeded spark a run, ending the quarter with a helpside block and a tip-in on the other end to close the quarter. He would start the fourth with an assist, rebound, layup, another rebound and a three-pointer to put the team up 77-62.
“Sometimes you got to people know when they’re messing up, whether it’s, teammates, coaches or officials,” Dunleavy joked on picking up the tech. “With me, it doesn’t happen very often. I think it got us going a little bit. Sometimes when you get your blood boiling like that, it’s good to get things off your chest and then you settle back in and play well.”
The Bulls stretched their lead to as many as 19, but had some lapses as the Celtics begin pressing and the focus became on getting Noah a milestone.
After a disappointing 2013 that was filled with not enough Rose and more losses than they’ve been accustomed to the past three seasons, getting 2014 off on a good note will hopefully go a long way for the Bulls.
“We have to turn it around,” Noah said. “To do that, everyone has to give everything they have every night. We can’t any nights off. You can’t play at 70 percent, 80 percent; you have to give everything you have every night.”