Bernstein: Bulls Not Good Enough To Coast

By Dan Bernstein–

During this giddy, accelerating ride to their position as title contenders, the Bulls had learned that it was pretty much OK to lollygag for three quarters before letting Derrick Rose grab the game by the throat.

Consecutive wins over Memphis and Milwaukee had reinforced the idea that they were good enough to turn it up defensively when needed most, then watch their star do his thing.

Time to forget that.

If the reported level of postgame locker-room cursing is any indication, they know what’s coming at the Berto Center this afternoon: some grim video and an honest-to-goodness, big-boy practice.

They had been warned, according to Tom Thibodeau. He had been troubled by the kind of lazy, sloppy workouts that indicated a good team was going through the motions late in the regular season, and mentioned repeatedly to them that such losers’ habits can carry over into games.

Rose, who has already been handed the MVP award and is becoming America’s sports darling, was awful last night, particularly in the first quarter that doomed them. He followed up his 30-point, 17-assist double-double with another, dubious one – 31 points and ten turnovers.

So no Refreshingly-Humble-Hometown-Superstar story today, for the first time in a while. Instead of yet another comparison/contrast to Michael Jordan, or romanticized description of how his rugged game developed amid harsh, south-side environs under the protection of his doting family, we get this, from Rose himself.

“This one is definitely on me. I played like crap. I was just careless. Some of them was me driving, kicking the ball off my f—ing foot. I need to watch video and learn from this.”

The newly-christened “Bench Mob” provided a total of 14 points, while the Sixers’ Thaddeus Young (21 pts.) and Lou Williams (10 pts., 7 reb., 7 ast.) torched their vaunted defense. Ronnie Brewer was fresh off a morning of big talk, describing the Bulls’ aim for the best overall record in the NBA and boasting of the reserves, “We don’t give up. We play hard every possession.”

You were saying?

Sure, even top teams lose games. The home win streak was going to end, just as the loss to the Pacers foiled the unlikely goal of a perfect divisional record.

This Bulls-as-favorites onrush has occurred so fast, though, that a single, mundane clunker resonates more that it would for say, the Lakers or Spurs, or another accomplished, veteran group readying for a deep playoff run. It’s a reminder to everyone – the fans and the players – that this is still an overachieving team, in all that word means.

They are outperforming expectations because of their commitment to defense and attention to detail. Thibodeau’s Coach-of-the-Year candidacy has been built on the cultish adherence to principle, led by the examples of Rose and Luol Deng.

It’s all very exciting stuff when you see yourself unexpectedly on top of the standings, every next word written is some glowing praise, the river of text-messages is unending, and you’re asked to endorse things you don’t use.

Sometimes, the best way to remember how you got there in the first place is seeing what happens when you slip, and spending a dreary afternoon in a dark room, watching it again.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Da Boo need to hustle and work and defend and out-rebound and…..
    They need to play at their best in each of the playoff series.

  • Murphs Upper-Lip

    Phew…. While win or lose, the ‘Hawks would be in the 8 seed this morning regardless, WOW does it make a difference to be 3 points ahead of Calgary with two less games played than a measly 1 point lead; feels a lot more comfortable.

    Last nights game was awesome. What a roller coaster of a month or so it’s been. I was really happy with the “stars” performance last night… a complete team effort from top to bottom. I’ll be back, I’m gonna go listen to “Danny Mac’s Parodies” — The Hossa Song deserves a listen or two this morning. (Another 6:30 start tonight, this one in Boston. Can’t wait.) H – O – S – S – A Hoooosa!)

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Thanks for posting that M U-L.
      2 points are 2 points.
      Great to see the Hawks beat the Dead Wings, especially on Hossa’s OT goal.

  • bronzo

    I chalk this up to ” It was one of thise nights” for the Bulls…No intensity…

    Meanwhile in Detroit Coery Crawford was brilliant last night in what was a HUGE win for the Blackhawks.

  • bronzo

    Make that those nights …and Corey Crawford… can’t spell this morning

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      Good win for the Blackhawks last night, they really needed that one.

      Every team slips up here and there, not a big concern. I almost feel bad for the 76ers because the next time they see the Bulls Rose is going to beat them to death with his 5th appendage.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        And when that happens, as it will, it will be fun to watch Doug Collins lose his mind.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        Agree, not too worried about one loss to the 76ers, and yes, I do feel bad for Philly if they have to play the Bulls again this season (such a slight chance they get outta the first round, though…)


  • bigtime sucker

    OMG BERNSTEIN i tweeted the EXACT same thing last night (huegtoad is my twitter name) that the bulls learned that they can’t win by simply showing up, they aren’t THAT GOOD yet. Instead of whatever pop culture entreanched song they play during warm ups, maybe they should dig deep into the musical vault and blast public enemies, “don’t believe the hype” as a reminder that hype never won anybody anything

  • farina91

    Come on every team in sports history has had a bad game. Every player has had a bad game. The Bulls are fine their going to be okay. Bernstein you are a idiot for saying thay are a overachieving team . The Bulls are a good team that can win it all. The NBA has no great teams plain and simple.

    • bigtime sucker

      farina, i actually really do agree with bernstein, because their offense isn’t consistent enough to overcome a lapse in defense, they had plenty of good stops in the second half last night that were squandered by short shots, turnovers, offensive fouls things like that. I am REALLY concerned about CBooz. It seems something that the bulls were doing early on was exposed on tape and shared throughout the league because CBooz can’t get it going and they NEED HIM DESPERATLY. if he can get EARLY OFFENSE, it changes the whole defensive strategy of the opposing team and most likely feeds right into the bulls hands, lately it hasn’t been happening and the bulls have had to play catch up, expend a lot of energy and it caught up with them. So it was a cautionary tale last night and a loss that kind of exposed the bulls a bit. they need to find a way to get early offense, which will set up their defense and cause a much more fluid game

  • Gentleman RaRa

    Was that a “Larry Horse wants a title shot” sign I saw on Raw last night?

    • bigtime sucker

      raw was weird last night, saw essentially the same promo three times. did HHH and undertaker really need to drag shawn michaels into all this, is that what the match is all about? to quote the miz, REALLY? John Cena elequently states his POV and all the rock can come back with is, I am going to kick your a $ $ all over chicago? that’s not the rock i knew and loved. CM Punk was on fire, loved that segment, and SNOOKIE?!? really? snookie? that was L.A.M.E. and a waste of Trish Straus’s many talents, but still good intensity and a hot crowd can always mask a lot of things i think could have been better

      • Terry Bolea

        QUIT TALKIN WWE!!!

        TALK MORE TNA!!!

      • bigtime sucker

        do something worth talking about and i will talk about you. quit hanging onto 1987, 1996, and 2002 and come up with something new and fresh

      • Terry Bolea

        Don’t forget about Rocky III…

      • Gentleman RaRa

        I agree, Cena owned Rock in that confrontation. He gave a really strong promo defending himself, and Rocky’s response was a lame “whip your monkey ass” line. But I admit, his “homeless power ranger” line had me laughing hard, though. I’m just not sure where all of this is leading, especially with The Miz involved.

        Everyone knows the match SHOULD be Rock vs. Cena.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        I liked it when Thunder Lips claimed he was the ultimate male, whereas Rocky was simply the ultimate meatball… (Must have had an issue with his allegiance towards sporting teams.)

      • bigtime sucker

        hogan(thunderlips) actually used a double underhook takedown in that segment, one of three actual occasions when he used a legitimate wrestling move

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        WHAT!?! Isn’t cupping your hand around your ear an actual wrestling move!?! How about ripping your shirt off (done as recently as last week on American Idol ;-) .) Or at the very least making it mainstream to call everyone “brotha!”

    • AT3374

      Yes it was

    • Fro Dog

      I have been getting a lot of calls/emails about the Larry Horse sign. That was me who did that. The pictures of my posters are on my site for “proof” (Credit to reader of my site Chucky. It was his idea).

  • Likquid Swordz

    I am not concerned with the Boo having a lackluster game at the tail end of the regular season. I think this kind of game woke up the right person (Rose), who in turn will get the attention of the rest of the team.

  • Denver Deadite

    I’d really like to see somebody take a running, flying elbow at Bertuzzi.

    Once a goon, always a goon.

    • Denver Deadite

      And Chris Kuc just tweeted that it’s being reported that Bertuzzi won’t be suspended for his hit last night.

      If true, GFJ, NHL, in showing once again that you don’t take hits to the head seriously enough.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      100% right Deadite.
      Booyah is reporting that the league will not discipline Bertuzzi for the elbow.
      Bertuzzi is a POS.

  • bigtime sucker

    can the hawks string wins together, that’s the question. a fine preformance against the best team, well these guys are talented enough to pull that off, but are their heads in the right place to build off that?

    not sure

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      If Kane got to bed at a reasonable hour last night, I’ll feel very good about the trip to New England tonight. Considering they had to hop on a plane right after last nights game, I would think he wasn’t out-and-about, but alas, he is KANER!!!

    • Beverly Brewmaster

      You’re absolutely right, BTS. It’s rare enough for the Hawks to string together 60 minutes of maximum effort, let alone 120, but that’s what they’re going to have to do now. Toews and Hossa are doing their best to will this team into the playoffs, and Keith and Seabrook are finally looking like last year’s top pairing in the league. Stalberg was great last night, and if he can keep flying down the wing that’ll be huge for the Hawks in weathering the Sharp injury. I wonder if tonight’s the night Quenville finally gives Crawford a night off. Personally, I don’t think it’ll matter. With Tim Thomas in net for the Bruins, it’s all a matter of whether the Hawks can light the lamp tonight. A goal or two from our bottom lines could be the difference.

      • SPAULDING!

        I’m guessing it’s going to be a. . . .

        barn burner (for the ‘hawks to win tonight).

        I wouldn’t mind if Crawford had the night off. He’s, probably, still seeing red hockey shorts when he closes his eyes.

        Son of Hjalmar needs to have a rebound game, though.

        What was Bertuzzi trying to do, exactly?

  • Chet Coppock

    Not even noon and Larry already has nearly 1/2 the posts on the blog, how would you like THAT GUYS JOB!

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Eff ewe.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        By the way, that was 3 posts out of the first 22 (your post was #22).
        Your math is significantly off, asshat.

  • Greg Olsen's Skill Set

    No doubt da boo gonna need to play better early and often…Carlos Boozer is going through the motions out there and giving them nothing…he and Deng must be better secondary options on offense. Not to mention Boozer actually playing defense, which probably will never happen.

    • bigtime sucker

      i don’t know about going through the motions, i think him missing all those games with the ankle has totally disrupted the offensive rythem of the team because they had to revert back to derrick early in games. they just need to get carlos involved early. i have no probelms with booz scoring 12 points in a game, as long as 8 of them come in the first quarter. but i am pretty sure if he scores 8 early, he will end up with 18-20 points because that’s how big men work, they need early touches to get going. but it also causes defenses to adjust because teams can live with a guy making jump shots but they will always change course if opponents are getting buckets inside. so it’s a crucial element to the bulls success

  • Chet Coppock

    What out for my Keith Mooreland. He’s not Ronny, but will be one helluva tandem in the booth w/ Pat Hughes

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      “What out for my Keith Moreland.”

      Is English your second language Chester?

      • Chet Coppock

        “My guy Keith Mooreland” the devils always in the details

      • Marky Mark

        I’m going to answer a resounding “yes” to Mr. Arse’s question, after this response…

      • Chet Coppock

        Hey Partners;
        Maybe instead of nitpicking over a typo, you could add some positive content to the Blog? Just a thought.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        Come on. Not saying funny or not, but “Chet Coppock” is schtick. Don’t get too angry over someone playing a character, pretty sure that’s just feeding into it.

        “the devils always in the details”

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Thanks M U-L.
        I realize it is schtick because our friend began posting as CC several weeks ago by spelling the last name as ending in -ick rather than -ock.
        So I realize it is a goof on Coppock…but Coppock to me is almost like the “Niagra Falls” bit on the Three Stooges, I loathe him so much.

      • Chet Coppock


        Do you prefer the “ock” winks ?

      • Denver Deadite

        “Hey Partners;
        Maybe instead of nitpicking over how many times somebody else is commenting, you could add some positive content to the Blog? Just a thought.”

        Fixed that for you.

      • mike murphy

        Any Latin speaking bloggers that speak English as a second language out there?

      • Larry Horse's Arse


  • AT3374

    It’s no secret the Bulls will only go as far as Derrick will take them but he needs more from Carlos , Loul and Joakim as well . Those three must continue to play well and the defense will take care of the rest . Tibbs also needs to give Derrick a break every now and then , I know he’s young but everyone gets tired . The Bench Mob needs to step up also .

    Ditka….sauasages ….Ditka

  • Jon, Montgomery

    is any team ever good enough to “coast”? I think not. you can’t let your guard down no matter what, and the bulls can’t afford to lose games to these kinds of teams at this point if they want that number 1 seed.

    • bigtime sucker

      the 96 and 97 bulls were, i would even say the 90-91 bulls coasted in the first 5 games of the playoffs with easy wins over the knicks and the first 2 against philly were pretty much coasts. they lost game 3 then pretty much turned up the jets in preparation for detroit in which they were without mercy and much the same vs the lakers save a nervous bunch in game one. the lakers and celtics teams of the 80’s coasted numerous times throughout the reg. season, they were that good.

  • pulseczar

    I can see Boozer being an albatross. He’s already a liability in so many ways. Not really a “Tibs guy” at all. Disappointing.

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      I recently referred to Carlos Silva as an albatross, so I set that bar rather high, unfortunately… but I’ve gotta agree, I really thought he’d be “getting it together” in a much better fashion by now; haven’t given up all hope yet, but pretty damn close.

    • pulseczar

      I want it to work out, but if he’s this bleh in the first year of his contract, I can’t see the rest of his deal going well.

      I was never high on Boozer to begin with. I’d rather see Taj out there and have Boozer’s rather sizable money spread elsewhere. I know they’re already spread thin when Derrick needs help aside from Deng but Booz isn’t giving much on O and at least Taj tries on D.

      He’s not going to change. Apparently. Not to be Chicken Little, but I can see Boozer’s shortcomings bringing things to a head eventually.

      • bigtime sucker

        derricks swearing barrage might be self pointed but his growing frustration might be swelling due to lack of help and more specifically c-booz


    “Wake up!” That’s what Bulls’ Radio Network analyst Bill Wennington told Chuck Swirsky up the dial at the end of the first half as the Bulls came out clearly flat, lethargic and lacked energy on both ends of the floor in the Bulls’ 97-85 loss to the 76ers at United Center to snap the Bulls’ 14-game home win streak. The Bulls missed 12 more free throws, got only 14 points from their “Bench Mob”, shot only 41% from the field for the game and committed 17 turnovers in the loss. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, the Celtics also lost 107-100 to a Pacers’ team that could very well be the first round opponent for whoever ends up claiming the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Also, when the Bulls face the Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis, there’s a good chance that Kevin Love and his double-double machine, points and rebounds, might be out with the groin injury. Needless to say, I hope last night’s loss to the Sixers woke these Bulls up and that they come out a lot more aggressive if they want the #1 seed in the East. Victories over the T-Wolves tomorrow and Friday vs. a really bad Pistons’ team in Auburn Hills, MI would certainly be more than welcome.

  • West Town Tom

    Excellent article, Terry. Nice to see you can still write well. Oh, and think clearly and stuff.

  • West Town Tom

    So, realistically, when can we trade Boozer? Next year? The year after that? Can we bundle him and another 1 or 2 guys to get someone worth good money?

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