Bulls notes: Frustration leads to technicals in loss

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Bulls notes: Frustration leads to technicals in loss

Known for their composure in past seasons, the Bulls have become an increasingly testy bunch.

Saturday was an example of that, as they accrued four technical fouls Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson, Luol Deng and head coach Tom Thibodeau were the offenders seemingly due to perceived non-calls by the officiating crew.

Probably so, from the standpoint of frustration, Thibodeau said. If you think youre getting fouled and they miss it, it takes your concentration away from what youre supposed to be doing, so we have to handle that part better and I think just understanding how quickly things can change. You go from winning a game on the road to coming home the next night and youve got to get ready all over again, and youve got to bring that intensity to the game from the start.

Deng joked: People have been thinking Im a superhero, so I had to show them Im human and I get frustrated, too. Seriously, Im disappointed that I let my frustration get the best of me. It happens. Some calls go your way, some dont go your wayIve definitely got to keep my composure. Ive got to do a better job of that. I thought I got fouled a few times, refs didnt see it and Ive got to do a better job of handling it. Just emotion.

Joakim Noah, the teams leader in technicals on the season, added: We lost our composure tonight, but its not just one person. Its all of us as a team. We have to do a better job of that, no question.

Suns' defense shines bright

Thibodeau credited the Suns, specifically hard-nosed forward P.J. Tucker the former NBA draft bust, who played overseas before returning to the league on a non-guaranteed deal this season, helped forced Deng, coming off a season-high 33-point outing in New York, into 5-for-16 shooting night for Phoenixs rugged defense. However, he also criticized his team for a lack of toughness, a rarity with the Bulls.

Tucker was tough. I want to give them credit because I thought they played really hard. They were into us, they were into the ball, so Ill leave it at that and I think the challenge in this league is you have to own your space, and you cant allow somebody to get you back on your heels, the coach explained. When we attack, not only on offense everyone thinks when we say, weve got to attack, its only on offense; its on defense, too when we have that mindset, were tough and when we allow people to get into us, were not as effective and sometimes, if youre looking for the officials to bail you out, thats not going to work. Youve got to take care of that yourself. Its a competition; its not a show. The teams that understand that get ahead and youve got to go after people, and thats the mindset that you have to have.

If you have a good win, you cant think you have it all figured out. Youve got to come back the next day, ask yourself what you can do better, how you can improve and thats got to be our mindset.

'Discount Double-Check'

Nate Robinson started a mild controversy when he celebrated a pair of baskets with the discount double check gesture, first popularized by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, during the Bulls win Friday.

Knicks sharpshooter Steve Novak, a Wisconsin native and Packers fan, also uses the move after draining three-pointers, and when asked about Robinsons on-court antics, he wasnt too pleased in his postgame remarks to the local media.

Robinson apparently responded to Novak via Twitter, but he also spoke about the drama after the Bulls loss.

Weve got to do our research on that and see who came up with that, he quipped. I just did it jokingly just because he does it, so why not?

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.”