- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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"He just said it was [bull]," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "And he's right."
Aside from a late fourth-quarter surge, the Bulls played one of their most lifeless games of the Thibodeau era. They were beaten badly on both ends of the floor all night. They turned the ball over 20 times and allowed the Warriors to make an almost laughable 16 steals. Golden State shot 47 percent from the field and seemingly did whatever it wanted on offense. It's no wonder Thibodeau was so angry after the game.
"No defense," the frustrated coach said. "We turned the ball over, put them into the open floor. And gave them a lot of confidence early. You can't do that against a team like this."
His players got the message loud and clear after it was over.
"Our defense was bad," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "They're a very good pick-and-roll team and we kind of struggled all game keeping them out of the paint. From the start of the game, our defense wasn't there. And a team like that, after the first quarter they got confidence and played with the lead the whole game."
Meanwhile, the Bulls created such a huge hole for themselves that, unlike Sunday in Los Angeles against the Lakers, they couldn't crawl out of it.
"When you're on the road, you have to understand how difficult it is to win on the road," Thibodeau said. "You prepare yourself by being ready at the start of the game and you have to play defense. And you can't make it easy on them. You've got to take care of the ball. You've got to eliminate all the ways in which you beat yourself first. And then you have to establish your defensive game first, you've got to know who you are. Defend, rebound, inside-out, share the ball, low turnovers."
Except for that short stretch in the fourth quarter, the Bulls really didn't do any of those things. Derrick Rose, who was just 4-for-17 from the field, had a hard time coming up with an answer for why his team struggled so badly on Monday night, but he knows what the major problem is and he knows what the key for turning things around will be.
"Defense, defense, defense," Rose said. "We always say we could live with missed shots. Of course, I missed a lot of bunnies tonight. Open shots I normally hit along with some of the other people on the team, but defensively I think that communication, that's a big thing, but we can always fix it."
Obviously, it's just the second game of the season and the players were not acting like the sky was falling. But they knew that if they let games like this continue to happen throughout the season, especially on the second night of a back-to-back, in a season full of them, they will be in trouble.
"We're not going to get to where we want to get to playing defense like that," Noah continued. "It's frustrating ... because we have to improve. There's a lot of areas we have to improve, even though we won against the Lakers [on Sunday].”
Rose agreed, also acknowledging that his coach had a right to be infuriated with his team's performance.
"He's mad," Rose said. "We can't be any more mad than him, I'll say that. He's a coach. He knows what we're capable of. He sees how hard we practice. And we disappointed him tonight, so all we can do is go out there the next game, go into practice, practice hard for him and go into the game and show him that we're capable of doing the things that he knows we can do."
The Bulls disappointed their demanding coach with a lackluster effort Monday.