Coach Jim Boylen had one night to breathe easy.
He can thank the slumping Pistons for that.
Despite beating Detroit for the second time, the 5-10 Bulls still fall under the category of “disappointment,’’ but at least Boylen didn’t have to throw out a bunch of pretend positives from another loss.
The Bulls’ 109-89 victory did reinforce one thing, however: As bad as the season has started for an organization that was touting the playoffs as a goal last month, Boylen’s standing within the franchise remains strong.
“I think we’re all frustrated,’’ Boylen said when asked about his relationship with his bosses these days. “We all would like to play better more consistently. Since I’ve been here, I’ve never felt more supported than I am right now. From ownership, management and [vice president of basketball operations] John [Paxson]. We talk every day, and we communicate, and we’re in step. We’re in step in a lot of ways, and we’re also in step in our frustration where we would like to play better more consistently.’’
After the loss to the Bucks on Monday, Boylen talked about staying the course with the offensive and defensive philosophies as well as the roster. That doesn’t appear to be changing.
“What I’ve talked to them about, and as you guys know I’m an open book with this stuff, is we have to play better in closing out games, and we have to play better in limiting teams in runs,’’ Boylen said. “Runs and closing out games have been issues for us. That’s what we talk about, and what we need to do better, what I need to do better and how I can support this group of guys better from my seat. That’s what’s important.’’
Luckily, Detroit had one run in the tank in the first quarter and was basically going through the motions the rest of the game.
Even another hometown return for Derrick Rose couldn’t jump-start the Pistons (4-10), who have lost five straight.
And Boylen’s concerns about closing out games was not even a factor after Tomas Satoransky’s dunk put the Bulls up 99-77 with 5:22 left, leaving Detroit as nothing more than a chalk outline on the United Center court.
Even Lauri Markkanen decided to show up for the first time since he dropped 35 in Charlotte on opening night. He had his second-best game of the season, scoring 24 points, including an efficient 3-for-4 from three-point range.
“You can see that we need that,’’ Satoransky said of Markkanen’s performance. “Whenever he catches on fire or scores some easy points, like the two dunks he had in the beginning, it’s a relief. He had his confidence back, and it puts less pressure on our first unit. He needed that personally, and we needed that, too.’’
This was far from a turnaround in the season, as Boylen was not shy about discussing what he needs to improve on as a coach.
“One thing I can do better is continue to bring energy to the game and continue to be me,’’ Boylen said.
That might not be the answer many Boylen critics wanted to hear, but that’s what he was willing to offer up.
“What I’m excited about, and I think what John and [general manager] Gar [Forman] and Jerry and Michael [Reinsdorf] are excited about is we have a system at both ends now that we can coach to and develop to,’’ Boylen said. “That’s exciting. In these moments that we need to play better, we need to play better. And we think we will, we believe we will, and that’s where it’s at.’’