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Derrick Rose is back, but Bulls still need to put the work in

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JAZZ AT BULLS

The facts: 7 p.m., CSN, 1000-AM.

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Updated: December 9, 2013 11:05AM



Joakim Noah was doing his best to try to explain the Bulls’ 1-3 start.

He sat in front of his locker, towel draped over his head, almost talking through it with the media like it was a therapy session.

All that was missing was a leather couch.

“You know, I don’t know,’’ Noah said when asked if it could be as simple as a core group taking its past regular-season success for granted.

After all, Noah, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Derrick Rose have been quick to point out that the Bulls entered the 2013-14 season having won 86 percent of their games when all four are on the court.

That number couldn’t be ignored about two weeks ago. But the number is dwindling after the Pacers ran the Bulls out of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the fourth quarter Wednesday night.

“I think we just have to play with a better edge, and we’ve just got to do better,’’ Noah said. “It’s all about winning and losing; right now, we’re losing. We’ve got to find a way to turn it around.’’

A film session Thursday might help them find their way.

The Bulls realize their defense has not been up to coach Tom Thibodeau’s standards since the season opened in Miami, but a lack of effort in their latest loss just might be the slap in the face they needed.

“Yeah, we haven’t played well defensively in these four games,’’ Deng said. “We’re a good defensive team. It will come. Maybe 30 games from now and we still have 52 more and we’re still struggling, then we’ll start to worry a little bit.

“Honestly, I want to be 4-0, but at the same time, I want to be positive, and you just have to know that it’s a really long season. Things turn around really quick in this league.’’

Not when a team is consistently allowing 30-point quarters, especially a team that prides itself on smothering offenses for a living.

There was a 37-point second quarter by the Heat, a 33-point third quarter by the 76ers and a 34-point fourth quarter by the Pacers.

All because of a lack of intensity?

“Hell, yeah, super surprised, but we can’t be down on ourselves,’’ Rose said. “Defense, you can easily change that with effort. Offensively, knocking down shots, it’s no biggie. We work too hard to get frustrated like that, and I think we’re going to be fine. We just have to catch a rhythm on both sides of the ball.’’

Maybe more important, the Bulls need to realize that even though Rose is back on the court, they still have to put the work in. The rest of the league is not bowing to the Bulls because Rose is back.

“We want to step away from that shadow as the ‘little brothers’ of this division,” Pacers forward Paul George told NBA.com. “[The Bulls’] success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is a new team. It’s ours till they take it.”

Maybe that’s the motivation the Bulls need. Maybe that will jump-start a pulse.

“Defensively, it’s playing a lot harder and finishing games,’’ Deng said. “That’s what our concern is.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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