Updated: Monday, Jan. 9 at 11:21 p.m.
By Christopher Cason
Beginning their toughest stretch of the abbreviated season, the Chicago Bulls maintained their dominance over the Detroit Pistons with a 92-68 win, their 13th straight over their Central Division rival as they begin their only three-games-in-three-nights stretch of the season.
With little to no practice time to correct areas of concern, the Bulls wanted to establish their defensive edge after a poor showing during Saturday nights 109-94 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Knowing we have three games in three nights, said Derrick Rose. When we came out there, our whole mindset was to try to get the game over early. Theyre a good team, they have good isolation players but we just made sure we tried to crowd them tonight.
If every night was like this where we played defense and get out and run, it would be easy, he continued. But, its been hard. We tried to come back from last game, where it was embarrassing to play in a game like that and just try and keep playing."
Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 23 points, eight rebounds and Rose scored 22 points to go along with eight assists and the starters were able to get a nice rest while the bench held down the fort defensively and put the game away in the fourth.
You put Derrick and Carlos in pick and rolls, theyre tough to stop, said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. They put a lot of pressure on people and I thought they made great decisions. Derrick has seen just about every type of defense there is to see so hes doing a great job of running the team.
The Bulls held the Pistons to 39 percent shooting for the game and only allowed nine points in the fourth quarter as Detroit shot 3 for 14 from the field.
Even with the lopsided margin of victory, the Pistons were only down 68-59 entering the final frame, but the Bulls bench extended an 11-0 run from the third quarter to start the fourth and the defense held serve, not allowing Detroit any breathing room on offense to even achieve a respectable deficit.
"I like the way we started the game on both ends," said Thibodeau. "I thought our ball movement to start the game was really good. It got us into a rhythm and our bench came in and gave us a lift."
As dreaded as the three-game-in-three-night series is -- not to mention the seven-game-in-nine-nights stretch -- the Bulls have found comfort in knowing that every team this season will go through their bout with a brutal stretch of games and some players have embraced the uniqueness in it.
Its kind of like going all the way back to our grassroots with AAU ball, said Boozer. In AAU, when we were in high school, we would go to tournaments in different places and we play two games in one night, three games, we play back to back to back, trying to win the tournament. Its more like AAU but its the NBA so it gives you a chance to flashback and get back to work.
The Bulls will hop on an airplane and punch their time cards again on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-6).