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Boozer, Rose lead Bulls' blowout of Pistons

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Boozer, Rose lead Bulls' blowout of Pistons

Updated: Monday, Jan. 9 at 11:21 p.m.

By Christopher Cason
CSNChicago.com contributor

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).

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.