Atlanta Hawks – 15 wins in a row.
Chicago Bulls – 2 wins a row.
But boy, did the Bulls need those wins! And not too shabby, either, with one W against the NBA world champion San Antonio Spurs, and the second, last night versus the Dallas Mavericks.
Neither team is easy to hate. In fact, with my college pal Katie Nelson’s bro Donnie Nelson as the GM for the Mavs, I like them more than most Western Conference teams. (And her Dad is none other than Hall of Famer Don Nelson).
The Bulls were at a turning point after the dismal loss to the Cavs on Monday. The Tuesday noon practice I reported in my last blog was cancelled at the last minute. Instead, Thibs held a team meeting, and every player was supposed to say something – anything.
Whatever was said what to whom – it’s working. Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report wrote in his article, Derrick Rose Has His Edge Back and the Bulls Are Following Suit, Derrick admitted they had never had a meeting like this in his time in Chicago. Now I find that hard to believe, but being a corporate consulting type, I have about 5-10 meetings/day, so it didn’t seem unusual to me.
“Do anything for the team,” Rose said of the meeting’s message. “Give yourself up for the team. The way that we’ve been playing doesn’t have anything to do with Thibs. He’s preparing us right. It’s up to the players to give effort.”
“It was a good meeting,” Pau Gasol reported. “Positive, important, where people just spoke up, shared their thoughts. If we want to get out of this slump, we’ve got to do it together. We can’t really do it individually. We have to do it together as a team, as a group. And that’s how you get through stuff, especially adversity.”
Ah, the adversity theme again. Gasol is channeling his Joakim Noah with the adversity talk. It must be a “Center” thing.
Oh wait, just found a Jo adversity quote. Equilibrium restored.
“I think when you go through adversity like that (six losses in eight games) you either go two ways,” said Joakim Noah. “You either come together or you start to point fingers. And that’s not who we are. At the end of the day, I think everybody wants to win here. It was definitely a humbling couple of weeks. We’re not satisfied; we know we have to get better. I think we’re all more than capable of doing that.”
So coming out of “the meeting,” the Bulls are on their way to giving Atlanta a run for their money with a big two-game win streak! That’s two wins on national TV, where they’ve been able to redeem themselves for games earlier in the month, which we’ll just pretend never happened.
The defense was there. Along with the camaraderie, the intensity, team effort and spirit. Oh, and they made some baskets.
DRose is getting back to his MVP self. He got his own rebound off a miss in last night’s game, threw it to Kirk, and the Bulls pretty much got the W at that point.
Joakim returned after missing four games, and it was reported that he was “amped” for the Mavericks game. These are the Bulls I love. All for one and one for all.
Neil (Funk) and Stacey (King) were back with the hometown call last night, and they reported that there were seemingly more Bulls fans at the game than Mavs fans. Either way, the UC crowd could sure take a lesson from Dallas. It was definitely a playoff atmosphere, at least, from my view on the couch.
And Sunday, it’s the Bulls vs. the Heat at the UC. It’s different now, when the Bulls play the Heat. You really can’t hate them any more, as one of our favorite former Bulls and all-around classiest guys, Luol Deng is with them now.
For a minute, I was thinking about making my way to the UC for the noon CST game. But then I heard it was “Kids Day” and I realized it would not be the game for me.
In other Bulls news, congratulations to Pau Gasol for being chosen by the fans as the starting center for the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Beat the Heat, but not Luol. He can have a good game.