After tough loss, Bulls eager for Knicks rematch

After tough loss, Bulls eager for Knicks rematch
April 10, 2012, 11:26 pm
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What makes the loss so tough? Joakim Noah asked, repeating the question that was asked of him following Sundays overtime defeat in New York. We beat ourselves tonight, so its upsetting.

It was a lot of mental mistakes. A lot of mental mistakes and just, you play hard and you know you want to win. You do all the right things and if losing didnt hurt, then winning wouldnt be so rewarding, so its definitely a game thats a tough pill to swallow, but weve got to bounce back, he told CSNChicago.com. You definitely dont want to give them confidence, but it is what it is. Were playing this team again on Tuesday and were excited about that.

Indeed, the Bulls have a chance to avenge their Easter loss at Madison Square Garden on their own turf and while they could be without reigning league MVP Derrick Rosethe All-Star point guard suffered a right ankle sprain in the second quarter Sunday, his first game back in the lineup after missing 12 consecutive contests with a strained right grointhey relish the rematch.

You know what? We just want to play them again on Tuesday. Were still in good shape. We still control our own destiny. We dont need to get down about the loss. Theres some stuff weve got to fix and weve got to learn from. We make some free throws, which we normally make, its a totally different game, were getting different questions. Its a whole new world. They made a couple tough shots. We missed some free throws. Theres obviously a couple plays wed love to have back. Were not going to hang our heads, man. We play them again on Tuesday and were going to go get them, said sharpshooter Kyle Korver.

Its not hard. We get to play them again. Its great. We get to play them again at home on Tuesday. Im sure were going to watch a whole lot of film tomorrow, were going to talk about a lot of things. This is a great opportunity, being that its a team that we could play. We get them twice in a row, how itll be in the playoffs. Youre going to play teams in a row. It could be this team. This is a really great thing. You dont want to just blow the team out and come out flat. They have our attention obviously. Theyre a great team. They have a lot of firepower, but well be ready to go on Tuesday. Im not worried about it at all.

Still, Sundays losstheir third already in Aprilis the type of defeat that sticks with a team, especially as they try to work Rose and Hamilton into the lineup after the starting backcourt duo missed extensive time with injuries. Rotation aside, after climbing back out of a huge hole to start the game and watching Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony send the game into overtime, then win it in the extra session as part of his 43-point performance, the Bulls feel like they let one slip out of their grasp.

You just feel like we could have won that game in so many different ways. What if? You always ask yourself what if because you normally close games out the right way, making foul shots. The last couple plays really bother you, when you feel like you gave up a three and you know you could have fouled or you could have got a little closer and its tough. The way we fought back from 20-something points and they took the lead, and had good momentum. Its rough, Taj Gibson told CSNChicago.com.

Its tough because anything can happen. One thing about this league, nothing comes easy. Every game is different and we have to learn from this game, and build on it.

Added All-Star Luol Deng: We felt like we had the game. We felt like we had it.

The fact that the Bulls were so horrific in the early going Sunday, while an extreme case, isnt exactly a surprise. This is a squad that has specialized in the art of comebacks all season, but this deep into the campaign, its not something they want to hang their hat on.

The Bulls have to come out with a sense of urgency. This team is fighting for a playoff spot and even though were already in the playoffs, we just cant come out sluggish, said Rose. Theyve always been a team that plays hard, but now, Melos in a groove, where hes been hitting a lot of tough shots and they do a great job of finding him.

Echoed Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, about his teams habit of slow starts specifically: Its a concern. Its a big concern.

Perhaps even more significantly than the loss alone is the fact that the Knicks, currently seventh in the Eastern Conferencefree-falling Philadelphia, which has the same record, entered Tuesday in eighth placestand a good chance of being the Bulls first-round opponent.

Theres a good chance that were going to play this team in the first round and you dont want to give them confidence. You dont want to give them any kind of an edge or any kind of anything, so with that being said, I wish we could have finished this game out better, but I think there was a lot to learn from it and we understand that weve had guys out, and were kind of getting back in the groove. But at the same time, we needed to win this, said Korver.

Theyre a team thats dangerous, man. Youre going to have to help and youre going to have to rotate, but at the same time, you cant give up those threes.

Chimed in Rose: on the potential opening-round matchup: Its just going to be fun. Theyre a good team, where they fight throughout the whole game and if we do play them, itll be a fun series.

Entertaining, sure. But being that Roses definition of fun is winning, that series would only meet his expectations if the Bulls can rectify what currently ails them.