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Bulls regain spark in thumping Warriors to cap trip

Festus Ezeli (left) Klay ThompsWarriors challenge shot by Joakim Noah Friday. | Ben Margot~AP

Festus Ezeli (left) and Klay Thompson of the Warriors challenge a shot by Joakim Noah on Friday. | Ben Margot~AP

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Updated: April 17, 2013 6:17AM



OAKLAND, Calif. ­— They were listening.

It didn’t seem like it in Los Angeles last Sunday, when the Bulls were beaten by the Lakers. It definitely didn’t seem to be the case in Sacramento on Wednesday, when the lowly Kings rolled the Bulls by 42.

That’s what prompted coach Tom Thibodeau to turn his demands into threats.

“My job is to have them ready,” Thibodeau said after the debacle in Sacramento. “We can’t come out like that. That’s on me. I didn’t like our intensity in the Laker game, and I didn’t like it [against the Kings]. I got to drive harder, and I will.”

Thibodeau did, and he got his response as the Bulls salvaged the last game of the road trip, beating the Golden State Warriors 113-95 at Oracle Arena.

Even more impressive is the way they did it.

Hustle, defense, rebounding, toughness — basically everything that Thibodeau preaches on a daily basis.

“It was a good bounce back,” Thibodeau said. “We knew we stunk [against the Kings] … everybody. Players, coaches, we stunk, so we had to correct it. The big thing is putting the work in. The magic is in the work. You put the work in, usually the results are going to be good.”

Throw in the fact that the team got together before practice Thursday to talk out the issues.

“It was just a must,” guard Nate Robinson said. “Our practice [Thursday], we talked about a lot of things that needed to be addressed, and we addressed them. We moved forward.”

In moving forward, that meant moving over a Golden State team that looked unprepared for four quarters of intensity.

With just over four minutes left in the first half, the game was tied, the play was sloppy and the Warriors seemed to be gaining confidence.

Then the Bulls went on a 12-2 run to end the half and take a 10-point lead into the locker room.

But it didn’t stop there. The Bulls (36-29) came out in the third quarter and engulfed the Warriors, who had been 22-9 at home.

Marco Belinelli started the third with a three-pointer, followed by a Robinson layup. After Belinelli’s second three-pointer of the quarter at the 7:50 mark, the lead was 72-49, and there wasn’t much looking back.

The Bulls scored 38 points and shot 62 percent from the field in the third. The Warriors were held to 17 points and shot 25 percent.

“We ironed some things out, but the big thing was the action on the floor,” Thibodeau said. “There was the right intent to get after it and improve. When you concentrate and put maximum effort into it, it leads to great intensity, and I thought we did that.”

It was good timing because the road doesn’t get any easier over the next five games, starting Monday with a visit by the Denver Nuggets. Then come the Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Miami Heat.

The good news is that help might be on the way, specifically from a onetime league MVP.

On Thursday, Derrick Rose had one of his hardest practices since coming back from surgery in May to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He felt good Friday.

“Fine, he’s the same,” Thibodeau said. “He keeps getting better, just got to be patient.”

With four of the next five games at home, the speculation of his return in the next week is growing.



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