PHILADELPHIA – Finally, some life.
Maybe not for the 48 minutes that Fred Hoiberg has been pleading to see from his players, but the first-year Bulls coach wasn’t about to complain.
After a no-show in Charlotte last week, and then a complete overtime meltdown against Minnesota at home over the weekend, Hoiberg’s disgust meter was on full alert heading into the game with winless Philadelphia. And while the 111-88 win over the 76ers on Monday night was exactly how the Bulls (5-3) should be handling lottery-bound NBA teams, that hasn’t been the case.
Lack of energy, lack of urgency, lack of leadership. Pick an excuse.
Bulls players have used them all.
It’s been the leadership talk, however, that’s seemed to be the hot button as of late. Specifically, Derrick Rose admitting earlier in the day that his lack of stepping up in that department was because, “I’m dealing with my own problems too.’’
Rose was asked if being considered the most accomplished guy on the roster should put the responsibility of having the loudest voice on his shoulders, and replied, “I mean I would, yeah, but at the same time I’m dealing with my own problems too, so it’s all about finding that balance, and like I said getting everybody on the same page.’’
The “own problems’’ comment was vague, so the logical follow up was for him to clarify if he meant the injury problems. It then became classic Rose.
“No, it’s about catching up,’’ Rose said. “These guys have been playing for a long time. When I was out I tend to just watch and see what’s going, and when you’re not playing you can’t voice your opinion like that. I don’t care who you are.
“With me being on the court, me getting back into a rhythm and just playing, I think that I should be able to voice my opinion a little bit more, and it’s slowly coming.’’
Hopefully, along with some consistency in his game.
Not that Rose needed to do much against now 0-7 Philadelphia, but his night was efficient, scoring 12 points on 6-for-14 shooting, while handing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds.
While confidence hasn’t been a problem for Rose, the same couldn’t be said for teammates Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. Nothing like a trip to Philadelphia to help restore that, as McDermott finished with 18 points and Mirotic put in 20, as well as grabbing 10 rebounds.
“It was tough for me the last couple games, last three games, playing without confidence the last game [against Minnesota], getting in trouble with fouls, but I knew that I would be back soon with my offense,’’ Mirotic said. “The last couple days, I was staying after practice to get my shots in, trying to get my confidence back, and [Monday] was the perfect day to get it back.’’
It didn’t hurt Mirotic that Joakim Noah’s surgically-repaired left knee acted up during warm-ups, either. Noah was scheduled to get the starting nod over Mirotic for the first time this season, but Hoiberg said the team wanted to be cautious with the knee and give it some rest.
After a slow first half in which Mirotic was just 1-for-3 and the Bulls were letting the Sixers hang around, 16 second-half points from the stretch-four was a huge boost.
“It was great for him to see that ball go into the basket in the second half, and it’s what shooters need – to see that thing go in and take the lid off,’’ Hoiberg said of Mirotic. “Hopefully, he can take off from here.’’