DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose may not believe the Indiana Pacers are a true rival for the Chicago Bulls but he knows his team needs a strong performance against the Pacers Wednesday to get back on track.
"If we don't come out with the same aggression like we do in practice and what we've been talking about we're going to get our butts whopped up there," Rose said. "Because they've been playing great basketball. We've got to come together and we're on the road. Usually on the road that's when we focus."
That is what coach Tom Thibodeau is hoping for as well. After two practices in which the Bulls had full participation, a rarity this season given the injury ups and downs, Thibodeau sounded confident that his 1-2 Bulls will be able to right itself soon.
"It's significant because it's the next game," Thibodeau said of playing the Pacers. "You have to prepare yourself for everybody. You have to be locked into what's in front of you. You have to understand what goes into winning. And when you start taking shortcuts you get in trouble."
Thibodeau has to see a lot of the Bulls' traits in the Pacers, especially on the defensive end.
"Size, toughness," Thibodeau said. "They play together, they make great effort. That's the biggest thing."
"I think both teams recognize each other as serious contenders," Bulls guard Mike Dunleavy, Jr. said. "Every time we step on the court, whether it's preseason or regular season we know we're going to get the other team's best shot. It's no different (Wednesday) night. It's an important game for both teams and hopefully we can go in there and take care of business."