CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose spoke for Chicago Bulls fans everywhere after his team's 90-81 win over the New Jersey Nets on Friday at the United Center.
"It was an ugly game, but we got the job done," he said.
Rose just as easily could have been discussing his team's performance over the past week. Without Joakim Noah, the Bulls are winning so ugly, with so much regularity, that they practically have mud on their jerseys.
The offense is struggling at times and the rebounding isn't as good as it has been all year. But one constant over the past few weeks once again came to the forefront on Friday -- the Bulls' defense is playing pretty well.
They came into the game giving up just 94.6 points a game and that number will go down after another lockdown performance against the lowly Nets.
"To me, it shows how good we are," Rose said. "We shot [39.5] percent or something like that? And we still won this game. Usually, in the past, it takes us to shoot like 70 percent, 60 percent and that usually comes out to a win. But we're just grateful for this win and we'll take it."
Rose was joking about the 70 percent part, but his point was clear. The Bulls are a different team than in years past because they aren't relying on numerous factors to get wins. They know that if they play the type of defense that Thibodeau wants them to play on a nightly basis, they will win more often than not.
"That's something that Coach Tibs has been teaching us and preaching to us all season," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. "That he can live with us having missed shots. That's part of the game, you're not going to make every shot you take, but our defense has to be there ... so if we're not scoring, we have to get more stops. Because the other team could be hot. If we do a good job on the defensive side, like we did the last five or six minutes of the game, it won't matter if we're making our shots or not."
Rose knows that his team feeds off of its defense, and they can keep winning without Noah if they continue to bring it on the defensive end every night.
"We're just trying to maintain this winning streak right now," Rose said. "Where we're just trying to play good until Jo comes back. He's a guy we've been missing a lot, but there's no excuses. We still got to go out there and play these games."
As long the Bulls continue to win, Rose doesn't care how ugly they are.
"It still goes down as a win," he said. "You can always fix it. Our energy was low tonight, but once again we got the job done."
Noah, the broadcaster: The Bulls found something for Noah to do while he recovers from thumb surgery. Put him on TV. Noah spent the third quarter sitting with Bulls announcers Neil Funk and Bill Wennington and clearly delighted viewers with his candor. He discussed the Bulls affinity for Thibodeau's new system, named who he considers the best teams in the league and even praised a referee.
After the game, he playfully told Rose that he wouldn't tell him where he was going for New Year's Eve because Rose had to get some sleep. He had a game the next day, after all.
The last word: Boozer, on the quiet United Center atmosphere for most of Friday’s game:
"We love our fans. We got to give them a reason to jump. So for us, we've got to play a little bit better. But every day we're finding new ways to win and we're going to keep grinding it out."