The Bulls must have been pretty embarrassed by their lame showing against the Clippers on Saturday night, where a Derrick Rose missed free throw which would have sent the game into overtime resulted in a one-point loss to one of the worst teams in the league.
The Bulls roared out to an early lead, thanks to the intense and tough play of Kurt Thomas, who wasn’t afraid to foul Sixers players; as he told the Tribune:
I was always taught not to give up layups and dunks,” Thomas said. “If it helps us, send a guy to the line. I just did my job.”
The Bulls have a deeper bench than they’ve had in years; even without Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, they won by 45 points for only the third time in the last 25 years. The others: 111-66 over the Grizzlies on January 13, 2007 and 133-88 over the Heat on December 30, 1994.
The Bulls are 17-9, currently the third-best record in the Eastern Conference and eighth-best in the NBA. They seem just short of what they need to join the top echelon of teams; the loss to the Clippers Saturday, and the failure to put away the Nuggets in Denver, two winnable games, separate them from the elite.
Still, they weathered a tough early schedule with some serious injuries. If they can make it until Noah comes back, they should be in fine shape for the playoffs.
The Bulls take on the Wizards in Washington tonight.