DALLAS, TX — After a week in which the Chicago Bulls lost four of five games and had Jimmy Butler, the team’s best player, call out first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg, there’s reason for optimism for the Bulls and their fans.
The Bulls are finally showing the heart and consistent intensity they have lacked most of the year during their tough two-game road stretch against the talented Oklahoma City Thunder and the well-rounded Dallas Mavericks. Combined this with Derrick Rose consistently showing the burst that made him one of the best players in the league and the 2011 NBA MVP, and one can see why things weren’t doom and gloom in the Bulls locker room after their tough 118-111 loss to Dallas Saturday night.
“We talked about getting a foot in the paint a lot,” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “If [Rose] can get a foot in the paint, it’s going to open up things for everybody else. He’s showing that burst right now. He’s got that burst where he can get into the paint, and had some really good finishes tonight all throughout the game.”
Despite making two turnovers down the stretch that played a big role in Saturday’s loss, Rose also played his best all-around game of the season by scoring 25 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists in 37 minutes. By constantly attacking the Mavericks in pick-and-roll situations by pushing to the rim, the Bulls star point guard was able to finish many times throughout the night, going 12-for-20 from the field.
While attempting to take the blame for the loss due to the two costly turnovers, Rose was very reluctant to say he was playing at the level he was playing at before being hit by his well-documented injury bug.
“I think that I was playing my normal way,” Rose said. “Shooting floaters, midrange, they were going under me on mid-range, a shot I can normally hit. I just saw there was a lot of things that were open.”
Another major reason for positivity for the Bulls is the fact they simply competed and gave the effort needed to win while going head-to-head with two of the better teams in the Western Conference on the road. For a team that has been dealing with a string of negatives at an extremely high rate this season, having some positives to talk about and build on is definitely a welcome sight.
“I’m glad the way we competed in both games – tough loss against the Mavs but, at least, we are playing hard and doing things a little better,” Bulls forward Pau Gasol said. “We got to make sure we finish games better.”
With their next 10-game against scrappy Eastern Conference teams, the Bulls will have plenty of opportunities to show if these last two games are the normal or just another mirage of and up-and-down mediocre team.
“I think we are on the right track, but we have been very inconsistent all year long,” Gasol said. “Let’s see if we can find that path that we need to be in to play consistently no matter who we play, where we play or what the weather’s like. We just got to bring the same effort and mindset added with energy every single day, and that is something we have not done.”