Noah on the defensive after an embarrassing performance against the Magic

SHARE Noah on the defensive after an embarrassing performance against the Magic

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) shoots over Atlanta Hawks forward Pero Antic during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

Joakim Noah was subjected to seven-plus minutes of rapid-fire questions from the media Tuesday.

In return, he did a lot of smirking and head-shaking. His go-to response was, “What do you want me to say?’’

Basically, the best defense by a Bull in about a week.

And that was the main topic after the afternoon practice at the Advocate Center, 14 hours after the Bulls allowed the Orlando Magic to score a season-high 121 points in their third loss in four games.

Defense, defense and more defense.

“We’ve got to get better,’’ Noah said. “We’re not there yet, but it’s fine. We’ve got time. We’ve just got to keep working, get better as a team, figure out what works and what doesn’t.’’

The Bulls’ on-the-ball defense has been shaky, their pick-and-roll defense has been loose and the intensity has been nonexistent.

That’s why coach Tom Thibodeau was irate after the loss Monday night at the United Center, calling out his team and resurrecting “the circle’’ concept.

“Either you’re in the circle or you’re out of the circle,’’ Thibodeau said. “You want to be in? Let’s go. You don’t want to be in? That’s fine, too. Let’s go.’’

Thibodeau was a bit calmer Tuesday, but he had a lot of film to show his players and wants to see how they react Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.

“There are two things you always look at first,’’ Thibodeau said. “The intensity, then the execution. Was it done properly? There were a lot of things that we could’ve done better. So we’ve gotta get back to that, make the corrections. We obviously can’t work on everything, so you try to prioritize the things that you feel need the most work. There are times that we’ve played great defense and great offense. Right now, for whatever reason, we’re low-energy, and we gotta get that corrected.’’

Thibodeau rarely singles out his players, but he didn’t have to after the latest loss. The Magic pushed the ball quickly all evening, and a lot of that pushing came at Derrick Rose’s expense.

Rose’s ball pressure has diminished since his lights-out defensive summer with Team USA, and his pick-and-roll defense has been below standard.

“When we say the ball pressure is important, it’s not only with our point guards; it’s with everybody,’’ Thibodeau said. “Oftentimes a lot of teams run offense through the elbows, too, and our bigs are in that position. So our bigs have to pressure the ball. We have to have great ball pressure. Our whole defense is based on it.

“I know it can look [like Rose is being picked on] because the league is a heavy pick-and-roll league. So it’s usually multi-pick-and-rolls now. .   It’s a work in progress. We’ve got to work on it, as all teams do.’’

Thibodeau said he has no plans to change personnel or switch the rotation around, and he thinks the defensive issues are correctable.

“There have been times where they’ve played great defense, so it’s in them,’’ Thibodeau said. “We know it’s in them. We just have to continue to work at it.’’

As far as ‘‘the circle’’ and who’s in or out of it, Noah wasn’t going there.

“It was a lot easier when we [won 13 of 15 games in December and early January], I’ll tell you that,’’ Noah said. “I don’t know what to say. Ask [Thibodeau]. I didn’t say that; he said that.’’


Twitter: @suntimes_hoops

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