CHICAGO -- The Bulls actually held onto a 35-point lead Thursday night.
This may not seem like much of a feat, but considering that the team couldn't do the same last December against Sacramento, the Bulls may be starting to make the type of progress that first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau has been hoping to see. Granted, both situations are completely different, but the symbolism of Derrick Rose and company keeping their foot to the floor and running all over the Warriors has to make the team and its fans feel good about what's to come.
"You've been in situations like that before and you just learn from it," Rose said. "Tibs and the rest of the team will never let that happen again."
So why exactly were the Bulls able to have so much success on Thursday night, in what was undoubtedly their best performance of the young season?
Let's count the ways ...
The Warriors were exhausted: Playing in their fourth game in five nights, and without All Star forward David Lee, Golden State looked tired from the outset and the Bulls took advantage. They had 37 fast break points and pushed the pace whenever they got the chance. They tried to break the Warriors' will early and did just that.
"We talked about playing on the road how you're going to run into the wolf, the bear and the lion," Golden State head coach Keith Smart said. "We escaped the wolf [Wednesday night in New York], but the bear got us tonight."
The Bulls didn't commit dumb fouls: Check that, they barely committed any fouls. After spending the early part of the year racking up stupid fouls, the Bulls set a franchise record for fewest fouls in a game with just seven. It was a mark the players were definitely surprised by.
"We've been talking about it," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "We've been committing a lot of silly fouls out there. Part of it is learning the system, guys are trying to be aggressive defensively. We're making bad fouls, but it will come with time. Guys will know what to do."
Thibodeau has been constantly stopping practices when his teams makes bad fouls, so that improvement will certainly make him happy, although his players know he won't show it Friday at practice.
"What can we improve upon?" Bulls center Joakim Noah responded, when asked the same question. "Well, we'll look at the tape [Friday] and I'm sure Tibs will come up with more than a few things."
Rose continues to distribute: Rose had 13 assists on Thursday night, the third time he's had double-digit assists this season. To put that into perspective, he only did that six times during the regular season last season. Sure, he had 22 points, but when Rose opens up the floor for the rest of his teammates, they know that they can be that much more dangerous.
"Derrick did a great job in sharing the ball," Noah said. "Once again, they were blitzing him off the pick and roll and he was making the right play all night. He was making the right play all night, we got great shots out of it, and we're just getting better everyday. We just got to keep it up."
Bogans makes his mark: Keith Bogans was instrumental on both ends of the floor Thursday night, scoring 14 points and grabbing five rebounds. Maybe most importantly, he had six steals and played solid defense on Golden State sharpshooter Monta Ellis.
"Keith Bogans had an excellent, excellent, excellent game for us," Noah said. "Throughout the day, Kurt Thomas and everybody was kind of putting Keith Bogans on edge because Monta Ellis is a tough cover. They were on him all day and he came out on edge today and did a good job."
Bogans knows that if his team continues to play this way, it will be in good shape heading into the circus trip next week.
"I think this is a game we can build on," he said. "I think we can still get a lot better, not just going off of this game, we all know we got a lot of work to do and we're just going to go back in the gym [Friday] and start again."
It's that kind of attitude that makes you wonder if Rose might just be right.