Bulls end 4-game skid with dominant second half in Detroit
After losing former MVP Derrick Rose to season-ending knee surgery, and dropping all four games on the west coast, many people feel the Bulls season is over and the franchise should be focused on next season.
Well, don't tell Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls that. After a lack-luster first half, the Bulls put forth a defensive performance that should remind people what this team is capable of no matter who is on the floor.
The Detroit Pistons scored 53 first half points; scoring at will on many possessions. Rodney Stuckey did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Stuckey punished the Bulls with 15 points. The Pistons shot nearly 59% over the first 24 minutes.
I'd like to be the proverbial fly on the wall at halftime, because whatever Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said in that locker room, the message was received loud and clear.
The Pistons offense had no answers for the lockdown defense the Bulls displayed in the second half, and more so the 4th quarter, which held Detroit to 11 points.
Sometimes it's as easy as making adjustments; other times its simply effort. In the second half, you could count on one hand how many good shots the Pistons took against the Thibodeau coached stingy D of the Bulls.
While its easy to say its just one game, which is true, nobody should dismiss the talent the Bulls have, even without Derrick Rose.
Luol Deng played like a man who is an unrestricted free agent, scoring a season-high 27 points. Deng has elevated his game since Rose went down, averaging 24.3 ppg, while shooting 52%.
While Carlos Boozer had one of his "amnesty games", Taj Gibson provided a much-needed spark off the bench with a career-high 23 points, on 11-13 shooting. Gibson, normally more known for his great defense, found the range Wednesday night.
There's still pieces on this team, along with a great deal of heart and effort, that should keep fans optimistic for at least a playoff run resembling last year's. While most people believed this team was geared towards a championship run pre Rose injury, the Miami Heat were still likely to be standing there once again.
And keep in mind, this is sports and nothing is guaranteed. So when you look at the Pacers or the Heat, just know crazier things have happened over the course of a year. Not to mention the obvious, which is--upsets happen.
The Chicago Bulls will get back to basics--shutting down the opposition on defense. While the offense will unequivocally struggle at times, the one constant will be a hard working defense most teams will want nothing to do with.
In Tom Thibodeau, Gar Forman and John Paxson we trust.