Bulls look lifeless in giving Bobcats a victory
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org December 31, 2012 11:24PM
Bobcats guard Kemba Walker passes to Hakim Warrick as Bulls guard Nate Robinson defends in the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls 91-81 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats Monday December 31, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: February 2, 2013 6:29AM
Heads down, no smiling, church-like quiet.
In the words of Taj Gibson, this is what a “swagger-less” locker room looks like.
Then again, allowing a team to end an 18-game losing streak, and doing it on your own home court? That’s about time swagger quickly turns to embarrassment.
“Right now you can look around in this locker room and see it in everyone’s face,” Gibson insisted after the Bulls lost to Charlotte 91-81 on Monday afternoon. “There’s that look of letdown, and you can see the heads are hanging.
“Even though our record is still above .500 (at 16-13), our record should be way better than what it is now. We’ve given away a lot of games that we’ve should have won. It comes down to our will. It’s time to push ourselves and get back to winning. Get that swag back.”
Not this way.
Not by being out-rebounded for a fourth-straight game. Not by being a few men down, as Kirk Hinrich sat out with multiple injuries and Joakim Noah was battling flu-like symptoms. And not playing without energy and emotion.
As a matter of fact, the Bulls have been emotionless ever since that dramatic win in New York against the Knicks 11 days ago. Since then, it looks like a team going through the motions.
“We’re not a 48-minute team,” head coach Tom Thibodeau again pointed out. “For some reason, and I’ve got to figure this out, I have to have us ready at the start of the game, we have to have an edge at the start of the game. We can’t ease our way into the game and say, ‘We’re good, we’ll get it corrected.’ It doesn’t work like that.”
Falling behind 28-18 to a Charlotte team that had last won a game on Nov. 24, definitely wasn’t what Thibodeau envisioned, but then again, neither was getting blown out by Atlanta and Houston, before winning an ugly game against Washington over the last week.
The Bulls looked like they gained control of the game in the second and third quarters, out-scoring the Bobcats 47-37 in that time, but Charlotte (8-23) leaned on the speed of their guards to push the intensity of the game up a notch in the fourth, and the Bulls had no answer.
Led by Kemba Walker’s 18 points, Gerald Henderson, as well as reserve guards Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon, kept the Bulls on their heels throughout the fourth, simply attacking the rim off the break. Henderson finished with 16 points, while Sessions and Gordon each had 15.
“Their speed and quickness, to me that’s one of their strengths,” Thibodeau said of the Charlotte attack. “If you don’t have floor balance you’re going to have problems.”
The Bulls were led by 20 points from Luol Deng, while Carlos Boozer chipped in 19 points and 14 rebounds, but that meant very little for a team that has now lost three of their last four games.
“You got to always keep that inner-child, man,” guard Nate Robinson said. “To me that’s the biggest gift you can have. Playing basketball, always having that feeling like you played with when you was a kid, playing with no worries.
“As long as we play hard it will all take care of itself. Tough times never last, tough people do, and I think we’re a tough group.
“We’ll get it back.”