After the Houston Rockets scored a come-from-behind victory not long ago and I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the drive and toughness that they displayed on that particular night made it time to start talking about this team as contenders. On Thursday night, the Chicago Bulls proved that I may have jumped the gun.
In a game that featured Bulls wing Mike Dunleavy getting bloodied up by a collision, receiving stitches, and then returning to the floor to score 21 points on the evening, Chicago took Houston to school in the art of toughness in professional basketball.
Especially in regards to how the Bulls have persevered over the past two seasons with Derrick Rose, their MVP, out of the lineup, no team in the Association exemplifies toughness at the level that the Bulls do. The way they talk exudes it. The way they play exudes it. The way they interact with one another exudes. If it walks like a duck, you know what it might be.
While the Rockets may be a team that has grown in terms of their intestinal fortitude in a noticeable way, they received a big lesson in that department as the Bulls dismantled them on Thursday night. Sure, the Bulls put up well over 100 points, but it was the way they systematically just wore down the Rockets and made it nigh impossible for Houston to put their normal array of points on the board that really left everyone in awe.
I may have jumped the gun on Houston, like I said. They’re improved and could still be competitive in the postseason. Moreover, I believe that they have the toughness in them to have solid moments when that type of play and mentality is necessary. However, the Bulls showed against the Rockets that there’s no team in the NBA with the same intensity, mentality, or level of toughness as them.