The Chicago Bulls knew their offense would struggle at times with Derrick Rose out of the lineup, but under coach Tom Thibodeau, the team always figured they could hang their hat on defense. However, the Bulls' defense has faltered the past week, giving up more than 100 points in four straight games. Three of those four games have resulted in losses.
The Bulls' recent defensive woes have Thibodeau and the rest of the team looking for answers. Starting small forward Luol Deng emphasized the need to put stops together, and cited last year's bench as a good example of doing that (via ESPN Chicago):
"We got to learn to put stops together," Deng said. "I don't like comparing teams but that's what we did well last year. The second unit just came in and got stops in a row. Everyone talks about offense, but it's the defense and the stops we got. That's how we win games, that's what we got to get back to."
One of the reasons this year's team has struggled defensively is because the new bench has not played at nearly as high a level as the old bench that Deng references. The Bulls' "Bench Mob" was one of the best in the NBA last year, mostly because of how they could come into games and shut other teams down. But with defensive stalwarts Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer gone, the Bulls have not been able to replicate that dominance.
Reserve power forward Taj Gibson echoed Deng's statements and said the team, especially the second unit that he leads, needs to play harder. If the Bulls are to get back on the winning track, the team needs to regain that defensive spark that they have become known for over the past couple of seasons.