The reality check came Wednesday.
It was ugly, it was embarrassing and it was somewhat shocking, as the 13-win Utah Jazz waltzed into the United Center and ran the red-hot Bulls right out of their own gym in their 97-77 victory.
But the warning came a day earlier.
Doing his best to downplay all the hype surrounding his new team, Pau Gasol was honest in assessing just what the 25-11 Bulls have really accomplished this season.
“We have a really good team, no question about it,’’ Gasol said, sounding very Tom Thibodeau-like. “But we still have a lot of work to do, a lot of paths to walk and a lot of work ahead of us. The potential is great, but we really haven’t accomplished anything yet. We’re a team that strives for greatness, but we really have to prove a lot to ourselves and to the rest of the league.’’
Then Gasol was asked to compare the back-to-back championship Lakers teams he played on with his current squad.
“Again, a championship team is a championship team,’’ Gasol said. “It proves it, and it wins it. We had a run in 2008, we lost the Finals, and that was a tough hit. But it fueled us to win the next two. We’ll see what happens here. Still have a lot to come, a lot to go from here to the next one. It will be interesting to see and find out what we’re capable of doing and being.’’
Hopefully, this game was not an indication because little went right for the Bulls. And again, it started with Derrick Rose, who continued feeding one of the worst shooting slumps of his NBA career.
He missed his first 10 shots from the field and finished 3-for-15 for seven points. Over the last six games, Rose is 28-for-110 (25.5 percent).
And he remained adamant that he has to keep shooting.
“It’s basketball,’’ Rose said after the loss. “Shots aren’t going to fall. It’s just part of the game. I’m going to keep shooting my shots.’’
Thibodeau called Rose’s failures a lull the other day, but it’s looking more like a trend.
“Knowing that the fourth quarter is basically mine, the first three quarters I’m trying to get everybody touches, read the game a little bit better,’’ Rose said.
That would be fine, but the fourth quarter wasn’t his, and it wasn’t even close. Rose was 0-for-1 in the fourth before he was pulled early when the game was out of hand.
“Well, the biggest thing with everybody on our team is to be mentally tough when you’re going through adversity,’’ Thibodeau said of Rose’s latest performance. “In terms of where he is, I think he’s making steady progress. He hasn’t shot the ball well, but he’s running the team well. You have to understand that he’s been out 2½ years. He’ll figure it out. I have a lot of confidence in that. I don’t want him to be afraid to make mistakes. He’s finding his way. I expected that to a certain degree.’’