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updated: 3/14/2014 7:05 PM

Bulls' ability to mininmize losing streaks crucial

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  • Chicago Bulls guard Mike Dunleavy, left, and Houston Rockets guard James Harden watch the ball after Dunleavy passed it during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

      Chicago Bulls guard Mike Dunleavy, left, and Houston Rockets guard James Harden watch the ball after Dunleavy passed it during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

 
 

This type of sequence has become fairly routine for the Bulls, even though it hit some extremes this week.

On Tuesday, they were smashed by San Antonio, never in the game after falling behind 23-6. Two days later, against a Houston team that had won 15 of 18 games, the Bulls were the bullies, opening the second half with a 16-0 run and winning with ease, 111-87.

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Losing streaks have been rare. The Bulls have won 12 of their last 13 games following a loss. Strong bounce-back games have been a trademark of the Tom Thibodeau coaching era, but after Thursday's win, no one had a great explanation for why this keeps happening.

"I don't know. I think we're playing some confident basketball," Joakim Noah said. "I think it shows when we have that edge, collectively, we're a tough team."

Added Kirk Hinrich, "When we don't perform near our ability, our potential, I think it bothers us. There's a lot of pride in here."

Even Mike Dunleavy, who has a chance to play for a winning team for the first time in his 12 NBA seasons, couldn't come up with an interesting answer. Surely there must be something the Bulls are doing that didn't happen when he played for losing teams in Golden State, Indiana and Milwaukee.

"It's a competitive, prideful group of guys," Dunleavy said. "You lose a game and people aren't happy. You want to get back there and do better next time. I think that sense of urgency sinks in to realize in this league, you don't want to drop two in a row. Because you drop two, then three and you don't know what's going to happen from there."

Taj posterizes Asik:

One late-game highlight from Thursday's blowout was Taj Gibson's big dunk over former teammate Omer Asik. It got the Stacey King poster treatment on the Comcast SportsNet broadcast.

Gibson threw a dunk off the back rim against San Antonio on Tuesday, so he was happy this one went through the hoop. Asik remains popular among the Bulls, though, so no one was gloating too much.

"I respect him for even jumping, because a lot of big men late in the game wouldn't do that," Gibson said. "That just showed that he was really in for the team. I would do the same thing if I was him. I just ran down the court, but Joakim (Noah) and Carlos (Boozer) was telling him, 'Hold that.' He already knows what that meant."

A few seconds after Noah declined to comment on the dunk, Asik walked quickly through the Bulls locker room and into the training area, smiling at a shout out from Noah.

"Omer's my guy," Noah said about the dunk. "I'm going to let him go."

"That got me so hyped, and I love Big O," Boozer added. "Taj gets somebody every game."

Bulls play hardened defense:

The Bulls pestered Houston center Dwight Howard into 7 turnovers on Thursday. He finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks.

The perimeter defense was even more impressive, as Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler helped limit James Harden to 8 points and 5 turnovers, while Chandler Parsons hit 1 of 11 shots and finished with a season-low 2 points.

Harden averaged 29.2 points in his previous 10 games.

"Everything was lacking tonight," Harden said after the contest. "We didn't stop them or do what we wanted to on defense. We couldn't make a shot. We didn't push the tempo like we needed to to have a chance in the game. The score showed it."

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