Even a 42-point thumping against a team 20 games below .500 still counts as just 1 loss.
It took one strong performance to get it back, and the Bulls delivered in Golden State late Friday night, pulling away in the second half to defeat the Warriors 113-95.
The score was tied at 44-44 with four minutes left in the first half. The Bulls went on a 12-2 run to pull into a 56-46 lead at halftime, then outscored Golden State 38-17 in the third quarter to build a 31-point advantage.
“That was the best we’ve played in a long time,” Joakim Noah told reporters after the game.
This all happened two days after a dismal defeat in Sacramento, the team’s worst loss under coach Tom Thibodeau.
All five starters scored in double figures against Golden State, led by Luol Deng with 23 points, Carlos Boozer with 21 and Nate Robinson with 20. Noah finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, hitting 7 of 8 shots from the field.
“I think we played with the right mindset,” Noah added, according to bulls.com. “Losing to Sacramento the way we lost to Sacramento the other day was very humbling and it’s a reality check.
“If you don’t come ready to play, we can get our (butts) kicked. We’ve been going through a lot of adversity. It was a big win for us tonight, and we’ve just got to keep fighting.”
Now as the Bulls head home from a three-game California trip, the outlook doesn’t seem nearly as bad as it did after they got crowned by the Kings. Through Friday’s action, the Bulls were tied with Atlanta for fifth place in the East, just 2 games behind Brooklyn.
Of their 17 remaining games, just 6 are against teams with a winning record and only two of those are on the road (Brooklyn and Miami).
And the Bulls are bound to get some injured players back sooner or later. Kirk Hinrich thought he might play against the Warriors, but his sore right foot didn’t respond well after Thursday’s practice. He will try again Monday when the Bulls break out the green uniforms and host Denver.
Taj Gibson is showing improvement, but there’s no word yet on when he will return from a sprained left knee. Richard Hamilton didn’t travel to California and is out indefinitely with a sore lower back.
Then there’s the Derrick Rose dilemma. The Bulls’ superstar is 10 months past surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. Thibodeau talked about how Rose went hard during Thursday’s practice in San Francisco.
There’s bound to be speculation that Rose might play either Monday against Denver or Thursday against Portland, but there still is no definitive word.
If nothing else, the Bulls should feel good about how well they played against the Warriors. They shot 52 percent from the field, controlled the rebounds (43-34) and dished out 28 assists.
“The thing is, this team has a lot of pride,” Thibodeau said after Friday’s game. “So we knew we stunk (at Sacramento). Everybody — players, coaches — we stunk. So we had to correct it. The big thing is putting the work in. The magic is in the work. You put the work in, usually the results are going to be good.”
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