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Bulls not taking the Jazz lightly
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Nov 8
The Chicago Bulls know there is always room for improvement.
After a 1-3 start, that’s become even more evident, but Joakim Noah and the Bulls are hopeful that Friday’s game against the winless Utah Jazz at the United Center will help get them moving in the right direction.
“We’re a work in progress,” said Noah following the team’s Friday morning shootaround. “We’ve just to keep grinding. It’s gonna come, it’s gonna come. We’ve worked too hard.
“We’re playing against a very good team even though they’re 0-5,” added Noah of Utah. “They have a lot of talented players and they’re very capable, so we have to come with the right mindset tonight.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is also working to ensure his team doesn’t overlook the Jazz.
“We’re not fooled by the record; they’ve played people tough,” said Thibodeau. “They had a tough loss to Oklahoma City, a game they easily could have won. [They] played very well at Phoenix and very well against Houston. They started the Boston game off very well. They’re huge and they’re tough, so we know we have to be ready.”
Indeed, the aforementioned losses to Oklahoma City and Phoenix were by three points apiece, and against Houston, the Jazz led by 16 at halftime. It’s those kind unfinished attempts which have also hurt the Bulls.
Thibodeau sees the need for a complete effort to help get Chicago back in the win column, something he didn’t get out of his team over the last two games when halftime leads against Philadelphia and Indiana disappeared.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on our improvement and to be more consistent for 48 minutes,” stated Thibodeau. “There are some things we’ve done well; obviously there are a lot of things we have to improve upon. But [we need] to be locked in to knowing our opponent well and to put all the necessary work into winning.”
Part of that could very well mean restoring the team’s trademark defense. The Bulls have allowed 98.0 points through four contests this season. In comparison, since Thibodeau’s arrival in 2011, Chicago has ranked second (91.3 ppg) in 2010-11, first (a franchise-record 88.1 ppg) in 2011-12 and third (92.9 ppg) in 2012-13.
“It’s definitely a slow process,” said Noah. “Everybody has something to say right now. Everybody has their opinions. It’s all good. The truth is in the work. We’ve just got to keep grinding and keep working. When it starts clicking for us, when our stride comes, it’s going to be good.”
Noah: “It’s about us and we’ve got to get better”
Wednesday marked the first of four meetings between the Bulls and Pacers this season. Last year, Indiana came up one game short in the Eastern Conference Finals, falling in Game 7 to the eventual champion Miami Heat.
The Pacers improved to 5-0 after pulling away in the second half against the Bulls, and after the game, All-Star forward Paul George made it clear he believes now is Indiana’s time.
“We want to step away from that shadow as the ‘little brothers’ of this division,” George told NBA.com. “[Chicago’s] success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is a new team. It’s ours till they take it.”
When asked about George’s comments, Noah acknowledged he was aware of them but didn’t fuel the fire.
“It’s all good,” said Noah. “It’s game five of the season and it’s a long journey. We’ll see those guys again.”
While Derrick Rose has said he does not see a rivalry with the Pacers, Noah doesn’t want to concern himself with anyone but himself and his own team.
“To me it doesn’t matter,” said Noah. “They want the same things that we want. Anybody who wants what we want I don’t really like at this point. So right now it’s not about them or anybody. It’s about us and we’ve got to get better. That’s our mindset and it starts with tonight.”