By Brad Thompson–
The Bulls winning ways continued on Tuesday with a victory over the Bobcats. Chicago is now just two games back of the Heat and Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference. What’s better is how they are winning. The Bulls are getting it done with teamwork, defense and by protecting their home court.
Guess who has the best home record in the Eastern Conference? If you said Chicago (24-4), you’d be right – second best home record in the NBA. Only the Spurs, who visit the United Center on Thursday, are better at home.
We all know Derrick Rose’s play has been stellar all season and he’s the unquestionable leader of the team, but in a night when he got off to a slow start, just five points in the first half, it’s comforting to see the Bulls have contributions from almost everyone. Kyle Korver made all five of his field goal attempts and sank both of his free throws for 15 points in 15 minutes. Omer Asik snagged seven boards in his 15 minutes of action. Taj Gibson had 11 points, three rebounds, three steals, two blocks and went to the charity stripe 10 times. All of this, from guys off the bench.
Basketball is a team game, yet in the NBA it’s a superstar league. After all the hoopla this summer over The Decision and now with the ongoing Carmelo Anthony saga, how refreshing is it to watch a team like Chicago play team basketball? The Bulls have their superstar in Rose, but playing together, particularly on defense, has catapulted this team into first place in the Central Division, 13 games up on Indiana.
This team is unselfish and their human highlight reel leads the way. Last night Rose had 13 dimes and, as a team, they assisted on 25 of their 38 made field goals. After the game Carlos Boozer emphasized the importance of playing as a unit.
“We’re a team — not just one guy, two guys, three guys; we’re a group of guys,” Boozer said. “Everybody on this team, whether you’re starting or off the bench, can play in the NBA and play well.”
This togetherness is just one bright spot for the Bulls. Although the athletic Bobcats have given the Bulls trouble this season, Charlotte beat the Bulls twice last month, Rose and company came up big in the fourth last night.
Maybe you’re thinking the Bulls did what they were supposed to do against a lesser team at home. And you’d be right, but playing together, protecting the United Center and executing down the stretch are all characteristics that will serve them well as the race in the East tightens and the Bulls head into the playoffs.
It’s been awhile since the Bulls were in this position heading into the All-Star break, even while playing without one starter for almost the entire season. It should be exciting when Noah returns and the Bulls are at full strength. The way they’re winning tells me they’re prime for a deep playoff run.
Do you agree with Brad? Post your comments below.
Brad M. Thompson, a former college football player and coach, made his return to the Midwest in 2009 after fighting wildfires out West. He earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and covers the Big Ten Conference and Chicago sports. Follow him on Twitter at @Brad_M_Thompson. Find more of Brad’s blogs here.