The Chicago Bulls seemed to have hit that metaphorical road block again at this point in the season. They have had a few stretches of inconsistent basketball that have resulted in ugly losses this season, but their most recent two-game losing streak is most troubling due to the recent developments within the last two days.
Yesterday, the news broke early in the afternoon that power forward Carlos Boozer wanted his role expanded to get more playing time in late-game situations. An upset Boozer doesn’t bode well for his future with the organization and also the Bulls’ current state.
In yesterday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, however, we got to see a little bit of budding frustration on the part of center Joakim Noah. During last night’s blowout loss, Noah ended up getting himself ejected from the game. Upon his ejection, he had a few choice words for each of the three referees in the form of some well-placed “F” bombs. Lucky to not have been suspended for a game or two by the league for his demeanor towards league officials, Noah was simply fined $15,000 by the league office.
Tonight turned out to be a great opportunity for coach Tom Thibodeau and his Bulls to right the ship and earn a quality win on the road against the playoff bound Phoenix Suns. The Suns have simply taken the league by storm this season and are being led by the much improved All-Star snub, Goran Dragic. The last time that these two teams met, the Bulls were able to win a hard fought game at home. That was also the first game that the Bulls played without Luol Deng since he was sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Andrew Bynum trade.
By halftime in tonight’s game, the Bulls looked very good. Offensively, the team was able to get a balanced effort from the starters and their role players off the bench. At that point, the team’s top scorer and rebounder was Boozer. Seeing him step up and try to break his snide has to take some of that heat off of him. Defensively, the Bulls were able to hold their opposition to only 33 points in the first half, their lowest output in a first half this season. That’s a major win against a Suns team that is sixth in the league points scored per game at just under 105.
The second half was a much different story as the Suns’ offense came alive to the tune of 59 points with the leadership of Dragic. Conversely, the Bulls’ offense lit it up after halftime with the help of strong performances from Boozer, Noah and point guard D.J. Augustin. The game ended up being too close for comfort in the final minutes, but the Bulls were able to pull out a 101-92 victory against a resilient opponent.
This was an impressive win for the team and as Boozer said in his post-game interview, “if we fight like this every night. we’ll have a chance to win every night. That’s what’s most important to us.”
Perhaps, the Bulls’ distractions are finally in the rearview.