Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe (10) goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) and forward Taj Gibson (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:44PM
All that swagger in the aftermath of beating the back-to-back champion Miami Heat?
A mere memory.
That warm, fuzzy feeling that the Bulls had finally moved past the hangover of having lost Derrick Rose for the season?
A third quarter in which the Bulls were outscored 24-9 and shot 20 percent (4-for-20) will do that to a team. Down three starters because of injury, coach Tom Thibodeau can say “we have more than enough’’ all he wants, but a 92-75 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night in which his team shot 33.3 percent overall said something different.
“We’ve just got to let this one slide off our backs until we figure out a way to win,’’ forward Taj Gibson said. “We’ve got a lot of guys out, a lot of guys hurt. It’s real frustrating because you’re not really getting a chance to get a rhythm because there’s always one guy banged up from the night before. It’s tough, but we’ve just got to keep pushing.’’
With Rose out, Jimmy Butler [turf toe] working his way back, and Luol Deng (Achilles tendon) day-to-day, injuries caught up with them against the Pistons.
A 30-9 run during the second and third quarters created a hole the Bulls (8-10) couldn’t get out of.
“The first half was very good until the last two minutes,’’ Thibodeau said. “We were up 47-41 and they went 6-0 to close out the second quarter, and then the 24-9 in the third gave them a cushion. They got away from us and we were trying to keep it to within 10, like work our way back into the game. We had a hard time scoring, a hard time covering the line, and those two things got us.’’
The scoring part was obvious. The backbreaker was allowing the Pistons to shoot 12-for-19 on threes, including 5-for-8 by Brandon Jennings (game-high 33 points).
What also made life difficult was the latest injury to Deng.
Rookie Tony Snell has been starting for Butler, Kirk Hinrich for Rose, and now Gibson was thrown into the 3-spot, basically learning his responsibilities Saturday afternoon in the shootaround, according to Thibodeau.
“We want to win every game,’’ Deng said. “ At the same time, mentally we’re tough enough to understand that we have some guys down and it’s a long season. We can’t beat each other up. We’ve got to think positive. We know how good we can be.’’
Therein lies the frustration.
They saw how good they could be against the Heat. They just can’t do it consistently.
“Well that’s the challenge of the league,’’ Thibodeau said. “You have a good win, and then the thing you’re concerned with is how quickly everything can change. We lose a guy, and now we’re starting a different group, then the bench changes. We’ve got to get back into that gym, we’ve got to work. We have enough.’’
Center Joakim Noah had more direct feelings on the latest showing: “We sucked, we’ll be better the next game.’’