Latest home pitfall looms for Bulls

CHICAGO – Home is supposed to have all the creature comforts, the better cooking and the bed that allows you to get the best sleep.

In the NBA, home is supposed to be where teams can build a little momentum for the path ahead. And then there are the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls have been a grab bag when it comes to home games this season. Head-scratching home defeats to the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat have brought questions about the team’s focus during what has been an unpredictable season.

Now, with a six-game road trip complete, the Bulls have a chance to establish some home dominance before heading into the All-Star break. The Sacramento Kings are up first Tuesday night, followed by Thursday’s challenge of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

How will the Bulls be feeling about themselves when the break arrives this weekend?

“Yeah, I just think for us it’s to concentrate on the improvement,” coach Tom Thibodeau said of his 32-20 team that is a pedestrian 13-11 at home. “We have to do better; it’s not good enough. But it starts with the next game, it starts with the shootaround, and then coming in tonight and getting ready to play. And hopefully we can build moving forward.”

The Kings look like just the team the Bulls need for their return to the United Center for the first time since the Heat defeat on Jan. 25. The Kings fired coach Michael Malone in December and interim coach Tyrone Corbin hasn’t been much better for the team.

Then again, this is just the kind of sneak-attack scenario that has given the Bulls so much trouble in their own arena. There already is enough potential distraction with the break looming after such a long road trip.

“The important thing is to not get locked into thinking about the All-Star break and all that stuff,” Thibodeau said. “That’s why it’s so important to have a routine established, how you get ready to play and how you practice. Are you putting everything you have into each and every practice? Do you study your opponent as well as you should? Then we need to count on guys to go out there and do their job together. That’s important.”

In Thibodeau’s mind, the Kings’ situation isn’t all that different from issues the Bulls have experienced like the defensive problems, questions of effort and the various physical ailments that have continued to surface.

“There is something (to distract) all the time and that’s why it’s important to establish the discipline, and what are your values?” Thibodeau said. “Whether it’s your schedule, there is trade talk, there’s all kind of things. Coaching (situations). So if you want to, you can choose to use an excuse every night or you can choose to get it done no matter what the circumstances are. For us, just get ready. We have to think about ourselves and take care of our issues to be ready to play.”