Closer to Homecourt: Bulls 101, Pistons 96

Going in, I felt like this game was the worst sort of trap.

First, with one more loss, the Pistons would be officially eliminated from the playoffs. Sure, we all knew that was a foregone conclusion, and they did, too. Still, teams tend to bring it in elimination games.

Second, Dennis Rodman had his jersey retired in one of those “turn back the clock and remember the good times” ceremonies. Rodman and several other member of those “Bad Boys” Pistons teams were on hand, including ringleader Isiah Thomas. These kinds of ceremonies can really inspire the home team.

Sure enough, after falling behind by as many as 15 points, the Pistons came to life in the second half and made a game of it. The game wasn’t secure until Derrick Rose knocked down a couple free throws with five seconds left to seal the win. A win that put them three games ahead of the Boston Celtics and 2.5 games up on the Miami Heat in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Still…struggling to a win against a bad team leaves a bad taste.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau — who was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for March — said: “I take a win any day. Any way we can get it, I’m taking the win. It’s fool’s gold, too. We got to make the corrections. If we don’t defend … the three things we always look at, particularly on the road, is the defense, the rebounding and the turnovers. We didn’t rebound well, we didn’t defend well and we turned the ball over.”

Thibs has a point. Three of them, actually. The Bulls allowed the Pistons to shoot 52 percent, got outrebounded 37-32 and gave up 19 points off 16 turnovers while once again playing without Joakim Noah, who was out with an ankle sprain.

Carlos Boozer had his second straight strong game with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. He looked particularly animated while posting up and going for rebounds, like maybe he had a little extra zip in his step. Maybe he really does enjoy the extra spacing he has when Jo’s not on the court. Or maybe he’s just finally over that sprained ankle.

Derrick Rose — who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for March — had a Derrick Rose-y type of game with 27 points, 7 assists, 4 steals and a rebound. He came out of the gates really strong, exploding for 13 points, 3 assists and 3 steals in the first quarter. He also made a great assist to Ronnie Brewer (and Brewer made an equally fantastic finish for the layup) with 34 seconds left to put the Bulls up 97-91. Rose was credited with a turnover with 12 seconds left while the Pistons were trying to foul him. It sure looked like there was uncalled contact, but whatever.

By the way, there’s no need to worry about that apparent ankle sprain Rose suffered in the third quarter. Said Rose: “It’s fine. I don’t feel it right now. Usually when guards do it, you bounce right back. With big men, that’s a bad injury for them. At first it was [scary]. But my will to play got me back in that game.”

The Bulls got another strong effort from the Bench Mob, who combined for 25 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. And even though he went 1-for-7, Kyle Korver made a key play down the stretch.

With the Bulls clinging to a four-point led with just over a minute to go, Korver bricked a three but Kurt Thomas grabbed the offensive rebound. The ball ended up back in Korver’s hands. He drove, drew the defense and hit Big Sexy for a 19-footer that was nothing but net. It was a really sweet play and went a long way to represent the kind of unselfish play that has characterized this season.

A season in which the Bulls could end up with the number one seed in their conference. Heck, with the way the Spurs are struggling, maybe even the best record in the league. Not that the Bulls are focusing on that.

Said Boozer: “We’re not thinking about nobody else but ourselves, to be honest. It sounds selfish, but it’s true. We’ve got to focus on us, getting healthy and getting Joakim [Noah] back. Be playing our best basketball and tighten up our screws on offense and defense and get ready for the playoffs. Each day we’re trying to get better. We’re not worried about other teams in our conference. Or teams in other conferences. We want to have as many wins as we can this season and we want to get as sharp as we can for the playoffs.”

Added Rose: “It might sound crazy, but I’m just worried about over here. Our destiny’s in our hand and we’re just trying to finish the season strong and win every game.”

I hope the winning continues tonight against the Raptors.

Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

7 Responses to Closer to Homecourt: Bulls 101, Pistons 96

  1. Inception April 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    well, Brewer said they’re looking to overtake the Spurs as the #1 team.

    anyway, i think the magic # of wins for CHI is 58 to outdo the heat…most likely the same for BOS, since the conference records are almost even now.

    inkybreath April 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    It is amazing that we can reasonably expect to go 5 and 2 to finish the season and end up with 60 wins.


    Tony C. April 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    What’s more remarkable, inkybreath, is that they will do it while being less than fully healthy and/or clicking on all cylinders for most of the season.

  4. Tae April 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    I think the Bulls are bored. They haven’t faced a real playoff contender in such a long time that they’re stuck playing down to competition in this stretch of weak games.

    That’s why I feel the Knicks will somehow kick our butts again. Somehow.

    inkybreath April 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    True, it hasn’t felt like a 60 win team through the duration and I think that is why we get defensive when it comes to people trying to diminish what Rose has done.

    This team has over-achieved and it is due to Rose and Thibs. People can talk about the Bench Mob all they want, but that group is nothing without the coaches scheme.

    Even outside of the Bogans debate (which the coach has won at this point). There were some scary indications early on the offensive side. Brewer was BROKE and Korver was not hitting shots like we had expected.

    You could even say that it was the words of the coach and the play of D-Rose in the first half that gave this team the confidence and purpose to do their jobs and finish in a superlative fashion.

    It has been great theater.

    chitown4life April 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Thus once again great quotes from all, The only thing I can add to this is bring on the playoffs Go bulls our team and MVP are both ready to go..Peace

    BULL4EVER April 10, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    The Bulls are going all the way for a 7th title and endlessly counting. GO BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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