The difference in energy for the Chicago Bulls from the first quarter to the fourth on Saturday was as easily identifiable for Fred Hoiberg as it was the United Center crowd who witnessed the Bulls receive their wake-up call in the nick of time in their 98-94 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
He made sure to show the contrast in Sunday’s film session, hoping the message would translate to the starters.
“It was good. We showed some examples of some really good plays, some really good ball movement, some really good pace,” Hoiberg said. “And we also showed when it wasn’t so pretty, especially in that first half and beginning of the third. Hopefully we learn from that. It was a good session.”
Joakim Noah’s ability to push the ball up the floor, set screens and initiate dribble handoffs as well as his overall relentless activity was a huge key to the Bulls’ fourth-quarter intensity.
Hoiberg is resisting the urge of re-inserting Noah back into the starting lineup, although many will remember Noah was slated to start in Philadelphia on Nov. 9 before his knee began acting up, resulting in his only missed game so far this season.
“We always talk about those things. But again, with that second group, he’s really developed a nice chemistry with those guys,” Hoiberg said. “I’ve liked the dynamic of that second group. I’m getting JO in there pretty early. I think it was the 6 or 7 minute mark yesterday. And that picks up our energy.”
What Hoiberg couldn’t explain is the standing around done by the first unit, the group that doesn’t seem to fully believe in Hoiberg’s system. Yes, Derrick Rose gets the ball up the court in three seconds per Hoiberg’s request but everything else is a struggle.
“That’s a good question. The big thing is just continue to put them in those situations,” Hoiberg said. “That’s what we worked on in practice today. You just hope it carries over. That second group is seeing the success they’ve had because of those situations and now they’re doing it more often because they trust it.
“We gotta get everybody out there doing that. And I’ll say this: Joakim has done a great job the last couple games going into dribble handoffs and flashing to the ball at the right time and getting some good action going on out there.”
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Hoiberg was practically giddy at the sight of the second unit putting it altogether, for one of the few times he could see his vision come to fruition. Aaron Brooks scored 15 of his 17 in the fourth, and chalks it up to familiarity.
“We know each other. It’s good to have Niko back, he spaces it out a little bit,” Brooks said. “We just come in and play hard, and guys are hungry and fighting for backup minutes so it brings an extra intensity.
“You wanna come in and be a spark off the bench. Sometimes the starters got it going and the bench doesn’t. I don’t think it’s anything, you just wanna change the rhythm of the game. Just go out there and play your game, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s anything in particular, as far as seeing something different.”