Playing without three-time All-Star Derrick Rose and four-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol, the Chicago Bulls were expected to experience a rough start to their annual circus road trip. In a way, they did. Down 14 in the first half to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Bulls were struggling mightily to find the right combination on the floor to match the Clippers. Anybody who has watched the Bulls since 2011, however, knows how resilient this team can be. Closing the first half on a 16-4 run, the big Clippers lead shrunk down to 2 points. In the third quarter, the Bulls dominated the Clippers, outscoring the fast-paced Western Conference juggernaut 31-14 and went on to win 105-89, improving to 6-0 on the road and 8-3 overall. Mike Dunleavy spoke after the game, affirming the team's resiliency.
We just proved what we've proven time and again with this team: it's a pretty resilient group. It doesn't matter who's out there for us. We're going to come out and compete and give it everything we've got.
Jimmy Butler once again lead the Bulls, who had six players in double figure, in scoring, notching 22 points (to go along with 8 assists and 6 rebounds) on a rough 6-17 shooting night, though he went 9-10 from the line. Doc Rivers, highly touted coach of the Clippers, had this short line to say about Butler.
Tom Thibodeau gave praise to his players within the confined doors of the locker room. To the media, Thibodeau gave a very Thibodeau-esque line.
In this league, when you start feeling good about yourself, that's usually when you get knocked down. So we've got to keep that edge.
That "edge" was further commented on by All-Star center Joakim Noah.
We played with an edge. When you play with an edge like that, you’re going to have a better chance of winning the ballgame. The last game against Indiana, we played with no edge to us and we got our butt kicked by a team that’s probably not as good as the Clippers. That shows you that the mindset going into a game is everything.
For years now, each and every Bulls player has taken what Thibodeau has said and worn it on their sleeves. They preach what he preaches because they believe in what he preaches. From the moment he signed with Chicago, there was an aura surrounding him. Everyone knew how intense he was going to be, and how he wouldn't settle for anything less that 200%. This is a team of brothers, far beyond mere teammates. Thibodeau-heads like Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, and Noah go into each and every game like a Thibodeau doppelganger, and that's an amazing thing. Come playoff time, these Thibodeau-heads will again prove the resiliency that they always have. Guys like Aaron Brooks, Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol are buying into the system far quicker than Bulls fans even hoped for. Thibodeau strikes a chord with each of his players. In turn, his players go out on the court and pretend it's a battlefield, where Thibodeau is their Commander.