The Chicago Bulls will have many more nights like the one they had against the New Orleans Pelicans Monday. In their first game back at the United Center since coming off their six-game “Circus Trip,” in which they went 1-5, the Bulls lost in triple overtime, 131-128, to the Pelicans who were without their best player in Chicago native Anthony Davis.
The Bulls once again showed their trademark toughness and fighting spirit that has been a staple under the Tom Thibodeau regime. But in the NBA, you need talent to win and without Derrick Rose, it’s hard to offset what he brings collectively with the roster that was assembled around him this season.
"I thought we played plenty hard enough," Thibodeau told the Chicago Tribune after the loss. "It was a tough one to lose. We're showing a lot of fight and don't have much to show for it. We have to keep grinding."
The Bulls got a strong effort from Luol Deng who scored 37 points and played nearly 56 minutes in the contest. Reserve swingman Mike Dunleavy Jr. was big off the bench, scoring 23 points and played the equivalent of an entire NBA game by logging 48 minutes.
Taj Gibson was also solid off the bench with his 26 points and 14 rebounds, doing his best to offset the lack of production by Carlos Boozer who played 27 minutes but scored just four points.
Joakim Noah contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Kirk Hinrich added 13 points to go with his 11 assists.
Chicago didn’t play a bad game, they just didn’t have enough offensively and their defense seems to still be a work in progress. The Pelicans are a very good team, but the Bulls lost a winnable game and now have just one win in their last seven games with the two-time defending champion Miami Heat coming to town on Thursday.