BOSTON -- Derrick Roses Monday appointment with a back specialist aside, on paper, all seems well with the Bulls these days. Sure, they didnt close out their nine-game road trip the way they would have liked after losing Sunday to the Celtics, but a 6-3 record is nothing to complain about.
Right? Wrong, if you ask them.
Those three losses that we had, its not something we like. We wish we could go back, play them again and win them all, but the challenge for us now is to go back home and take care of our home court, said Carlos Boozer. We wish we didnt lose one of them, man. We feel like we could be undefeated and to have the six, seven losses that we have, its tough because we feel like we should have won every one of them.
Concurred Rose: I think we did badly, man. We were 6-3. For us, thats not good. We did kind of badly on this trip. Hopefully the next trip that we have, we play well and our record is better than this one.
Joakim Noah agreed: 6-3, its OK, but its not great. For what were trying to do, were not happy with 6-3.
Left unsaid was the fact that the three opponents the Bulls lost to -- Miami, Philadelphia and Boston -- were the three toughest of the trip. While beating Central Division rival Milwaukee, a pre-Linsanity Knicks team and the murderers row of Washington, New Orleans, Charlotte and New Jersey could be considered taking care of business and avoiding letdowns, it isnt exactly a resume booster.
Youve got to play well on the road. You cant judge anything now. You judge it at the end. When you go in and you play a quality opponent on the road, every team is capable of beating you. Youve got to do the same things to win, argued Tom Thibodeau. You could lose to anybody in this league. I dont look at it the way you guys do. I look at it totally different.
I thought we hung tough, I thought we got good bench play out of a number of guys. The starters played well, but we still could have done a lot better, continued the coach in evaluating the trip. Some things we did well, some things we need to improve upon, so theres good and bad, but wed like to have the opportunity to have some practice time, where we can work on improving in all areas and were looking forward to that.
Luol Deng put a positive spin on it: It was a great road trip. We want to win every game. At the same time, we got to spend a lot of time together off the court. It kind of helped us. But a lot of games, we came out and played great. We wanted to end it better. Even though we didnt play great tonight, we still gave ourselves a chance to win the game and it came down to right at the end.
After more than two weeks of living out of suitcases, the Bulls return to the Windy City and begin a slate of home games that lasts until the All-Star break.
Were looking forward to it. We wish we went back off of a win, but itll be good to be back in Chicago, said Boozer. I dont think were far from where we want to be. I think were right there, but it would be good to get healthy a little bit and get some of the guys that were missing back. It would be great, but itll be good to be back in Chicago, get some home-cooked meals, sleep in our own beds and play some home games at the UC.
Rose chimed in: I cant wait, just to be in the UC again. I know our fans are going to come out and support us. Its going to be fun, exciting and its going to be some good games.
Deng, who played Sunday with a heavy bandage on his left wrist, has personal reasons to be happy to play at the United Center again after more than two weeks away from the West Side.
The injury and being out, then getting on the road and playing on the road, Im not going to lie to you: Im looking forward to going home and playing at home, said Deng. Honestly, its always good to be home. Its always good to play in front of your fans, but its the NBA. Whatever your schedule is like, it doesnt really matter. You have a tough schedule early or tough schedule late, it really doesnt matter. Youve just got to focus on your next game. I think its a lot of things going on -- All-Star, all that, game, youre playing this, youre playing that -- all that, youve got to put all that aside and just focus on the next game.
Above all, Thibodeau expects his squad to keep its foot on the gas, no matter the quality of opponents (not that he thinks any foe is weak, of course) for not only the home stand, but for the remainder of the Bulls schedule, which is regarded as significantly easier, in terms of travel, opposition and off days.
Weve got to be ready when we go home, thats the big thing. We cant look back. Everybodys going to say, Your schedule changes, its going to be easy, and its not going to be easy, he said. You cant look ahead, you cant look behind. Youve just got to stare at that next one. The next ones Sacramento. Weve got to be ready for it.