Boozer, Rose lead Bulls' blowout of Pistons

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Boozer, Rose lead Bulls' blowout of Pistons

Updated: Monday, Jan. 9 at 11:21 p.m.

By Christopher Cason
CSNChicago.com contributor

Beginning their toughest stretch of the abbreviated season, the Chicago Bulls maintained their dominance over the Detroit Pistons with a 92-68 win, their 13th straight over their Central Division rival as they begin their only three-games-in-three-nights stretch of the season.

With little to no practice time to correct areas of concern, the Bulls wanted to establish their defensive edge after a poor showing during Saturday nights 109-94 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Knowing we have three games in three nights, said Derrick Rose. When we came out there, our whole mindset was to try to get the game over early. Theyre a good team, they have good isolation players but we just made sure we tried to crowd them tonight.

If every night was like this where we played defense and get out and run, it would be easy, he continued. But, its been hard. We tried to come back from last game, where it was embarrassing to play in a game like that and just try and keep playing."

Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 23 points, eight rebounds and Rose scored 22 points to go along with eight assists and the starters were able to get a nice rest while the bench held down the fort defensively and put the game away in the fourth.

You put Derrick and Carlos in pick and rolls, theyre tough to stop, said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. They put a lot of pressure on people and I thought they made great decisions. Derrick has seen just about every type of defense there is to see so hes doing a great job of running the team.

The Bulls held the Pistons to 39 percent shooting for the game and only allowed nine points in the fourth quarter as Detroit shot 3 for 14 from the field.

Even with the lopsided margin of victory, the Pistons were only down 68-59 entering the final frame, but the Bulls bench extended an 11-0 run from the third quarter to start the fourth and the defense held serve, not allowing Detroit any breathing room on offense to even achieve a respectable deficit.

"I like the way we started the game on both ends," said Thibodeau. "I thought our ball movement to start the game was really good. It got us into a rhythm and our bench came in and gave us a lift."

As dreaded as the three-game-in-three-night series is -- not to mention the seven-game-in-nine-nights stretch -- the Bulls have found comfort in knowing that every team this season will go through their bout with a brutal stretch of games and some players have embraced the uniqueness in it.

Its kind of like going all the way back to our grassroots with AAU ball, said Boozer. In AAU, when we were in high school, we would go to tournaments in different places and we play two games in one night, three games, we play back to back to back, trying to win the tournament. Its more like AAU but its the NBA so it gives you a chance to flashback and get back to work.

The Bulls will hop on an airplane and punch their time cards again on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-6).

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

For the opening three quarters in Atlanta, the Bulls were off. 

So off, in fact, that Dwyane Wade tweeted an apology to Chicago fans after the game. 

Thanks to a furious run by the Bulls' bench, the final score ended at a respectable 102-93. In reality, though, the Hawks dominated. 

Wade and company trailed by 29 points at half and 30 at the end of three. The 35-year-old shooting guard finished with a minus-18 and just four points while All-Star starter Jimmy Butler posted a team-low minus-22.

The Bulls will look to shake off their lopsided loss against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. 

 

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23 in a game they trailed by as many as 34 points.

The practices have apparently been the sterling jewel of effort and competitiveness for the Bulls but it hasn't carried over through the season as the inconsistency continues to be maddening — one that seems to go beyond the "growing pains" mantra that's been fed by all involved so far this year.

"It could be things but I don't want to share it with the media," a sunglasses-clad Dwyane Wade said outside the locker room, in a rare mood of not being elaborative following a loss.

It appears even the professional's professional has gotten a bit more frustrated than usual — understandable considering the way the starters came out with a lack of energy, with more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) in the first quarter.

"Continue to try to lead behind the scenes," Wade said. "Can't stop when it's bad, when it's good. You gotta be the same."

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scoring 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

[MORE BULLS: Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation]

Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

"I have been, we have been, tired of this. I gotta come out better," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 19 points in 29 minutes. "I gotta play better from the jump, 48 minutes. That's not the way we're supposed to play. 

"The way we practice is not the way we play in the game. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Starting with me and going down the line, we gotta be better as a whole. Otherwise we'll keep getting our asses beat and it's bad."

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

"We're gonna look at everything and we'll see how we go out and start tomorrow and a couple days after that, hopefully we figure some things out," Hoiberg said. "They shot over 70 percent in the first quarter and you dig yourselves a hole and it's impossible to get out."

Hoiberg said he would evaluate everything leading into Saturday's game at home against the Sacramento Kings, but Friday didn't seem to present any realistic lineup changes based on performance.

Bobby Portis scored 10 with seven rebounds off the bench, with Jerian Grant scoring 12 and Paul Zipser 10. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined to shoot two for nine, so one wonders where Hoiberg can go.

"I don't know. Practice is good. Practice is great," Butler said. "Practice is not gonna win you games. We gotta take what we do in practice and take it over to the game."

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

"I don't know, I can't put a word on it. Because it's just talk," Butler said. "Doesn't matter what you say, if we don't go out there and do it, what the hell is talking gonna do? We've been up and down all year. If we don't guard and turn the ball over, games get out of hand very quickly."

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against Sacramento and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can't simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.