Still under construction, Bulls hold off the Magic and improve to 3-1

SHARE Still under construction, Bulls hold off the Magic and improve to 3-1

The “Hoiball’’ hype has been on full display since Day 1 of training camp.

All the talk about the quick pace, transition basketball, “Showtime’’ setting up camp in the Midwest. Maybe someday, but now? There are definitely hints of that offense taking shape, but at the core of this Bulls team, the DNA still is defense.

“Our biggest thing is defense,’’ Derrick Rose said, after a 92-87 victory against the Orlando Magic on Sunday night at the United Center. “Defense is going to be key for us.’’

It certainly was in big moments against the Magic, specifically suffocating them in a 14-point second quarter. Then after allowing the visitors to cut a 15-point fourth-quarter lead to three, the Bulls locked them down to grab the victory and improve to 3-1.

Like it or not, there’s still a little Tom Thibodeau in all these guys.

“Yeah, obviously they’ve been taught very well in the defensive end these last five years, a lot of them,’’ Hoiberg said. “It’s trying to build habits on that other end, and I thought [Sunday] for a good portion of that game, it was as good as it has been all year. Then it stopped. You got to keep doing the things that make you successful and give you a lead, and then build on that.

“When you get them down 15 in the fourth quarter, you’ve got to build that thing to 20. There’s a couple of times where we’ve had double-digit leads in the fourth and let teams back in. We have to continue to push the pace, continue putting pressure on the defense, and we didn’t do a very good job of that [against Orlando].’’

Then again, while the Bulls are admittedly under construction on that offensive end, they are also not even close to becoming a finished product. There’s still a lot in the lab coat that Hoiberg is yet to unveil.

“We still have a lot of quick-hitter, isolation-type actions that we haven’t put in,’’ Hoiberg said. “[What is] difficult is you don’t have three, four days off before games to add a lot of new actions. You try and throw something in at shoot-around and then you try and run it, they don’t remember it because you’ve got a lot of other things in. So yeah, there’s a lot of things that we have to continue to put into our playbook and when we get it rolling, we can really take advantage of a mismatch.’’

They were able to do that in spurts against the Magic (0-3). Four Bulls players hit double figures, led by Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol with 16 each.

Then there was the game of Derrick Rose. He had a pedestrian shooting night (2-for-8 from the field for six points), but he had his best point-guard game in a while, handing out eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds.

“Everybody is trying to invest in the team,’’ Rose said. “I don’t think we have one selfish person on this team. Everybody is doing everything for the team.’’

Monday’s off-day will be another day of learning, before the team heads off to Charlotte, and as far as Joakim Noah was concerned, that’s one more day to get better.

“We have to get better defensively, no question about that,’’ Noah said. “New coach, new philosophy, but overall we need to keep improving.

“I respect Coach. He’s got his philosophies and I’m riding with him.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.


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