Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau used Monday mornings practice to go over each of the teams 10 home losses on the season.
The message was to discard any excuses for their poor play and get the mindset of his players back on the readiness to play, no matter the opponent or circumstance.
Thibs was screaming at us early in the morning, Joakim Noah said. Its not fun to be screamed at at nine in the morning. Were 10-10 at home. There were a lot of F-bombs. A lot of F-bombs.
Thibodeau always talks about how the mood of the team is set at shoot-around and it would seem that his choice of words struck a chord and helped yield some record-setting results.
The Bulls went ahead to beat the Hawks, 97-58.
The win set franchise records for fewest points by an opponent (58), fewest points at the half (20), fewest points in a quarter (5 in the second), lowest field goal percentage in a half (.205 in the first half) and the 20 points Atlanta scored in the first half was the second-fewest points in a first half since 1975.
I think we have a pretty serious-minded team, Thibodeau said. For us, we had 10 home losses and we spent some time analyzing why, but not to focus in on the past. Be ready for tonights game and I thought our team did that. We want to be consistent with our approach. You dont want to change your approach, whether youre home or on the road. You dont want to change your style of play. I think the important thing is to come out with the right mindset from the start of the game, to understand the type of intensity and togetherness thats necessary to win. When you do that, youre going to put yourself in position to win and thats what we have to do.
There was a sense of added motivation as the Hawks handed the Bulls an embarrassing 92-75 road loss last month. Even with wanting to extract some revenge, the edge that most had grown accustomed to seeing over the years in the United Center was on full display Monday night.
Weve had some great moments, but tonight was special, Carlos Boozer told CSNChicago.com. Theyre a very good basketball team. Theyre a playoff team every year, they took it to us just a few weeks ago down in Atlanta. The roles were almost reversed tonight. We played a great game. Our intensity was there, concentration was there and the effort was amazing.
The Bulls will depart for two road games - Toronto and Boston - before returning to face the Grizzlies Saturday night. The win was the topic of conversation, but the teams focus as always under Thibodeau was on building off of this performance and the continuous strides for improvement.
You want to build, Thibodeau said. I think for us, we have to look at this game, understand the things we did well to get a lead like we did and then also have the ability to look at the things that maybe we got away with not doing so well. But we won, so human nature is to overlook those things. I think the good teams make the necessary corrections when they win; to be able to look at it objectively.
Added Noah: Its going to be interesting the rest of the way to see how we deal with playing at home when things arent going our way. When things arent going our way, how do we react to not hitting shots? We have to play together. When we play together, I feel were very tough to beat.