Joakim Noah: Bulls need to ‘keep grinding’

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Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) drives to the basket past Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose (1) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 26, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. Warriors defeated the Bulls 99-91. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As important as anything Derrick Rose does on offense is the Bulls re-establishing themselves as one of the league’s premier defensive teams.

Coordination, communication, everything was lacking in Monday night’s loss to the Warriors.

“This team has a lot of firepower,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before Thursday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings. “They have added some weapons and they can really shoot the ball so you have to establish your defense early in the game.”

When Thibodeau’s team failed to do that against the Warriors, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry gained confidence and helped build a lead the Bulls could not overcome.

“We just need to keep grinding, keep a positive attitude and understand teams are very good in the NBA,” center Joakim Noah said. “It’s not because we’re the Chicago Bulls that we’re going to win games. We have to go out there and get better. Losing the way we did to Golden State, the effort we put out there wasn’t very good. It’s on us to bounce back. We’ll do that.”

The hunted

The Bulls aren’t going to sneak up on anybody after last year’s run to the Eastern Conference finals. Luol Deng has noticed a difference.

“It’s totally a different mind-set,” he said. “I can’t think of a game this year or last year where we went into the game thinking we were the underdog. Teams come after us. It’s totally a different mind-set from a couple years ago. We used to chase teams. Now there are still teams we chase but teams are chasing us.”

Noah said it’s about playing hard regardless of who you’re playing.

“Underdog or not, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We just have to go out there and compete. We can compete harder.”

Ice man

Deng soaks his feet in ice and has more ice wrapped around his knees. He was even icing his shoulder after the Warriors game. After ranking among the league leaders in minutes last season, the veteran has learned how to take care of his body, which is especially important during this lockout-shortened season.

“I learned a lot last year,” Deng said. “I played in a lot of games and played a lot of minutes and did a good job of taking care of my body and making sure I’m getting my rest. It’s going to be the same thing this year. All the guys are aware of it. The coaches, trainers are making sure we’re staying on top of it.”

Run to daylight

How far rookie Jimmer Fredette will go in the NBA has been a long-running debate. After two games, the former NCAA scoring champ from BYU was averaging 24.8 minutes and eight points for the Kings.

“You can’t give him any daylight,” Thibodeau said.

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