Bulls looking for answers for defensive woes
CHICAGO (AP) Compared to their high standard, the Chicago Bulls are searching for consistency on defense. Everyone on the team agrees with that part.
When it comes to talk of trust issues, then everything gets a little murky.
Heading into Wednesday night's game against Brooklyn, Chicago was allowing 100.5 points per game, tied for 19th in the league. The Bulls allowed an NBA-low 91.8 points last season and 92.9 points for the 2012-13 season, which ranked third.
Chicago allowed more than 100 points 10 times in its first 20 games. It allowed opponents to reach triple digits 16 times last season.
Since Saturday night's 112-102 loss to Golden State, Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and veteran forward Taj Gibson have talked about trust issues involving some of the new players on the team. But coach Tom Thibodeau dismissed that out of hand before the game against the Nets.
''That's garbage. That's garbage,'' he said. ''Trust, it's work. It's work. That's how you build trust. So you got to know what you're doing. You got to be tied together. You got to work at it. It's a cop-out.''
The Bulls (13-8) got off to another slow start on defense against the Nets, but they turned up the pressure in the second half of a 105-80 victory. Brooklyn had just 29 points on 26.2 percent (11 of 42) shooting in the final two periods.
''The trust was there tonight,'' Gibson said. ''Like I said before, it takes everybody on the team to trust one another. The trust was there tonight. We were talking. Guys were responding. Everybody was there for one another. That's the old Chicago Bull defense.''
The schedule has played in a role in Chicago's unusually high average. The Bulls lost 132-129 to high-scoring Dallas in double overtime on Dec. 2, and the Warriors also are one of the NBA's best offensive teams. But Chicago also surrendered 115 points in a victory at lowly Philadelphia, and lost 99-90 to Indiana on Nov. 15.
''Where you get trust is from the work. The magic is in the work,'' Thibodeau said before the win over Brooklyn. ''It's working together. It's timing. It's being tied together. One guy being off is going to hurt, so you need everyone working together. And it doesn't end. You're not going to have it figured out in three days.''
When told of Thibodeau's pregame comments, Gibson did not back down from the trust talk.
''It's just new guys. That's all it is,'' Gibson said before Chicago's first home win since Nov. 10 against Detroit. ''Most of the guys are coming from teams that are not really like the defensive-minded team first. You know what I'm saying? So of course it's going to happen.
''But that's just my opinion. That's what I see on the court. I've been here for a while. I know what I'm talking about. Joakim knows what he's talking about. He's the Defensive Player of the Year. Of course, he knows what he's talking about.''
Injuries also have played a role in the defensive issues. Noah missed the game with the Nets with a right ankle injury.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap