CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 14: Mike Dunleavy #34 of the Chicago Bulls takes the ball to the basket against the Orlando Magic on April 14, 2014 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Updated: May 16, 2014 6:37AM
Disappointment shouldn’t linger at this point in the season. And when your coach is Tom Thibodeau, it’s just about forbidden.
After the Bulls fell short Sunday in New York in what center Joakim Noah called “the biggest game of the season,’’ you figured it was going to be a long night for the Magic.
Thanks to 22 points from Mike Dunleavy, the Bulls (48-33) beat Orlando 108-95 at the United Center on Monday in the last home game of the regular season.
Was there really any doubt there would be a bounce-back? With Thibodeau coaching every game like it’s a Game 7, the Bulls are basically steeled for the playoffs.
“That preparation has definitely helped us,’’ guard Kirk Hinrich said. “It’s made us who we are. That’s just kind of the makeup of this group and the beliefs that [Thibodeau] goes by. Us as players, there’s something to be said about just coming in, preparing. You feel prepared, you’re confident, and that goes a long way.’’
That confidence was on display in the third quarter against the Magic (23-58).
The Bulls had a 13-point lead at the half, but the Magic made things interesting to start the second half, cutting the deficit to three with 4:24 left in the third quarter. A Dunleavy three-pointer, a Carlos Boozer jumper, a Jimmy Butler layup and foul and two more free throws, then a little Jimmer Fredette — four of his 17 points — and the Bulls were up 81-70 to start the fourth quarter.
“Playing with high intensity like we do all year helps,’’ Dunleavy said. “I certainly am going to keep the same approach in the playoffs. It’s just another game because I think we prepare for every regular-season game like it’s a playoff game. That’s the way we’ve been doing it, and hopefully we roll right through in terms of smoothness and transition into the postseason because we play like that every night.’’
First things first, and that means rolling through their last regular-season game Wednesday night in Charlotte and hoping for some help if they want the No. 3 seed.
They are still tied with Toronto, but the Raptors hold the tiebreaker. The good news is Toronto has to travel to New York to face a Knicks team that has played well lately.
“We’re not changing our approach,’’ Thibodeau said after the latest victory.
“We’re playing pretty good basketball. As you head down the stretch here, you have a lot of head-to-head games, and no matter what your circumstances are, you want to make the most out of those circumstances. I like how our team has responded.’’
NOTES: D.J. Augustin was not with the team. His wife had a baby boy earlier in the day.
◆ The Bulls continued to tweak the bench Monday, announcing they signed forward Greg Smith for the rest of the season and waived Tornike Shengelia. Shengelia was acquired from the Nets in late January, when the Bulls sent Marquis Teague to Brooklyn.
In the 6-10 Smith, the Bulls added a more experienced player.
Smith appeared in 89 regular-season games over two-plus seasons with the Rockets, averaging 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds.
◆ Asked if he deserved to be coach of the year, Tom Thibodeau said, “Shoot, I don’t look at that stuff. That’s for you guys.’’