Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010
By Aggrey Sam
With their successful 4-3 record over the course of the dreaded circus trip, the franchise's first winning record on the annual road swing since the 1997-98 campaign, the final year of the championship dynasty, one would imagine the Bulls are riding high, content with their success and experiencing burgeoning confidence with the imminent return of power forward Carlos Boozer on the horizon. Think again.
"You're looking at everything, so there's some things we're doing well, some things that we're below average in that we have to clean up, but we also want to keep adding to the foundation that we're building. So, there's a lot of work to be done," said Tom Thibodeau.
"Overall, I thought we played fairly well on the circus trip. We still have a lot of work to do and quite frankly, we don't want to look backwards; we want to look ahead and get ready for Orlando."
"I think we play hard, we're playing unselfishly. Our readiness to play, I'm still concerned about that. We're getting in holes to start games," the never-satisfied rookie head coach added. "In the NBA, you can find something every night, if you're looking for something what you'd like is to have the mental toughness and the belief that you can win under any circumstances. If you're doing the right things, you should have a chance to win."
Thibodeau's philosophy clearly has rubbed off on the team, which has displayed outstanding determination despite a disturbing tendency to have to make uphill climbs after allowing huge deficits even in the face of extreme fatigue, such as on the aforementioned West Coast trip.
"We feel like we let some games get away, truthfully. We felt like at San Antonio, we had a great opportunity to get a win. Denver, unfortunately, they knocked down a last-second shot," reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer told CSNChicago.com. "I wouldn't say we're satisfied, but we came into practice Monday working hard, trying to get better and we're getting back at it."
"I definitely could tell the Bulls were tired, but we're the type of team that's going to keep fighting throughout the whole game play defense toward the end of the Sacramento game but we can't dig ourselves a hole like that in the beginning because it takes too much energy out of us. Against a good team, they're not going to let us come back. Not to take anything away from them, but a veteran team, they wouldn't let us come back in the game," added Derrick Rose after Saturday's win to conclude the trip.
When told that this season's squad had accomplished something that hasn't been done since the days of Michael Jordan, Rose had a practical response.
"That's good, but it's still early in the season. If anything, I want you to say we were close to that team at the end of our season. Making it past the first round of the playoffs we're not looking ahead that far," added Rose. "We're just balling right now. We know that we've got a decent team and the coaching staff is doing great preparing for the games, Thibs is doing great in practice making sure we play hard every single time and we're holding ourselves accountable on the court, so I think that's a good thing."
Even though they're being tough self-critics, the Bulls are proud of their performance, setting the stage for them to enter December with a winning record and one of their key players in Boozer expected to make his debut soon.
"I'm excited. We've got a very good group of guys. We go on a road trip like that and take on some very good teams championship-level teams lost a couple of close games to those teams that we thought we had a chance to win in our opinion," observed Boozer, who had a courtside view for the entire trip and is arguably the team's biggest sideline cheerleader. "When we get back full force, we should be something to reckon with."
"I think a lot of people in the NBA overlook just your team getting along together off the court. I think a lot of the times, you put a bunch of individuals together just because of what they're capable of doing on the court. I just think our chemistry on and off the court has been unbelievable and this trip has been great for that," said Luol Deng. "Every team has things that they've got to correct. I'm not saying that's our only issue there's a lot of stuff we've got to correct but I really believe we're going to keep trying to make it better. We're going to keep working on it, keep working in practice and try to avoid that."
"Honestly, I think Coach did a good job of getting our mind off that the circus trip as a whole. In the past, it was just what everybody talked about and I think Coach did a good job this year. We took it one game at a time. It didn't feel like the circus trip; that wasn't our mindset. That's just the right way to attack it," continued the team's longest-tenured player. "Obviously everyone knows he's a great coach, but he really knows how to manage us. A great group of guys, but he knows when to make us work hard and when to step it up. It's just been a great trip, but now, we get back home and refocus."
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.