Joakim Noah may have summed it up best, if a tad inappropriately: “We sucked tonight and we’ll do better next game,” the All-Star center repeated, following the Bulls’ 92-75 loss to the Pistons at the United Center.
Saturday night’s defeat was particularly sobering because it came on the heels of perhaps the team’s most impressive start-to-finish performance of the season, a victory over the rival, two-time defending champion Heat, no less. But without three starters—All-Star small forward Luol Deng, suffering from a sore left Achilles’, joined sidelined shooting guard Jimmy Butler, still recovering from a turf-toe injury, and of course, Derrick Rose—Detroit won in Chicago for the first time since 2006, courtesy of the Bulls’ 33.3 percent shooting from the field, a nine-point third quarter, losing the battle of the boards and allowing 12-for-19 three-point shooting, a major reason Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings scored 33 points on the evening.
“It’s the challenge of the league. You have a good win and the thing you’re concerned with is how quickly everything can change, so you lose a guy and you’re starting a different group, then your bench changes,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. “But that being said, I liked the way we started the game. I liked all the way up to the last two minutes of the second quarter, so for us, we’ve got to get back in that gym, we’ve got to work. We have enough.”
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Taj Gibson, filling in for Deng at a new position and perhaps the Bulls’ lone bright spot, scoring 21 points and 10 rebounds to notch another stellar outing in what’s been a career individual season thus far, was similarly defiant.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to just pushing. Everybody in the NBA is capable of stepping up. Everybody is in the NBA for a reason,” he said. “We’ve just got to let this one slide off our back until we figure out a way to win. We’ve got a lot of guys out, a lot of guys hurt. It’s real frustrating because you never really get a chance to get a rhythm, because there’s always one guy banged up from the night before.”
Teague has solid night
Embattled second-year point guard Marquis Teague had arguably his best game of the campaign, going for a season-high 10 points and three apiece of assists and rebounds in 17 minutes of playing time behind veteran Kirk Hinrich, who struggled.
Thibodeau was complimentary of the youngster, who was assigned to the D-League and recalled on the same day earlier in the week.
“I thought he did a good job. I thought he was comfortable out there. Offensively, he was very good,” the coach said. “Defensively, I still think he can be really good defensively and so, that’s an area I still want him to continue to work and concentrate on, but I thought he did a very good job for us.”
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Teague, as his is manner, took the contest in stride.
“I was just trying to be more aggressive. We had less guys, so we all had to do a little more,” he told CSNChicago.com. “I’m trying to get into it [defensively], just figure out all the calls for screens with the bigs. Just trying to get more comfortable with that.”
As far as all the speculation about his future, the Indianapolis native said: “I don’t really pay attention to it. It’s something I’ve been dealing with forever. I just try to keep playing the game.”
Noah praises counterpart
Maybe if he had known what type of night it would turn out to be, Noah wouldn’t have been so effusive in his praise of Pistons center Andre Drummond. The second-year center, 20, has been a monster rebounder this season, pulling down 12.8 boards a night, and he lived up to his reputation against the Bulls, snatching 14 rebounds against Noah, an acclaimed rebounder himself.
At the Bulls’ morning shootaround, Noah, who struggled with two points and nine boards—he shot 1-for-7 from the field, but did block four shots—talked about Drummond’s game.
“He’s playing really well. You got to give credit when credit is due. He’s running the floor hard, rebounding at a high level and he’s a freak physically. So we have to do our best to take away his lobs, but he’s putting up big-boy numbers,” he said. “The more you play on the court, the more the game slows down. You know what you have to do, and it’s pretty impressive with what he’s done so far at that young of an age.”