Bulls look far from polished in win

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
11:02
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Derrick Rose, Enes Kanter, Richard JeffersonJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Bulls are struggling to keep the handle on the ball, and Derrick Rose is turning it over at a concerning rate -- 25 times during the course of the first five games.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls pulled off a rare feat in Friday night's 97-73 win over the lowly Utah Jazz. They won a game by 24 points and still didn't play very well.

Don't let the final score fool you. Yes, some of the Bulls' final numbers look nice, but the Jazz are horrible.

The Bulls still appear to be a work in progress that needs a lot more than just a touch-up. They turned the ball over 16 times in the first half and continued to look lost at times offensively.

"Some of them are us trying to be unselfish," Bulls guard Derrick Rose said of all the turnovers. "That's what type of team that we have. Some of them you just have to play through it, man. I think I had like four or five. I could care less; we won the game. You can't dwell on that; as a basketball player, it's onto the next play."

The Bulls don't sound overly concerned about their carelessness with the ball, but it might come back to bite them against good teams. They can't expect to play the way they did in the first half Friday night and beat the upper-echelon teams in the league.

After only five games, it's no time to hit the panic button. But Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau should be concerned if his team doesn't start showing improvement soon. The Bulls are too talented to continue playing the way they have been over the first week and a half of the season.

"That is one of the areas we have to clean up," Thibodeau said. "I thought we did a lot of good things to get a big lead. We got a little careless and that is something that needs to be corrected. Overall, I thought there was a lot of unselfish play. Everyone was making a concerted effort to make the extra pass. We passed up a good shot to get a great shot. We want to get the turnover number down to 13 or less."

The issue for Thibodeau is that he and his team have set such a high standard over the past three seasons that it's strange to see them struggle so much trying to hang on to the ball. The Bulls have always tried to run crisp sets and have made it a point not to make repeated unforced errors in years past. But that has been an ongoing problem for his team this season.

"It's going to be something," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "Right now that's what we got to focus on next. But as long as guys are turning the ball over trying to make aggressive plays, I think I'm OK with it. But it will come; it will all come together.

"Every team has something they got to work on, and right now we got to shift our focus and we want to get our defense right for 48 minutes. The next thing will be our turnovers and how smooth we can run our offense."

In the short term, the next step for Thibodeau will be to continue working with Rose so that he gets back into a rhythm quickly. He had four more turnovers Friday night, which brings his total for the season to 25 over the first five games.

The former MVP isn't too concerned about his numbers, especially on a night the Bulls picked up a much-needed win. But he knows he and his teammates must sharpen their game before they take a trip West next week.

"I'm not worried about it," Rose said. "I can't force anything. The worst thing to do is really try to go out there and force it. That's just not my game. I'm going to let it come to me naturally, do what the team needs me to do, play the way that I normally play and, trust me, it's going to come."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5