- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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After turning the ball over 27 times Thursday in a bad loss to the Miami Heat, the Bulls responded by turning the ball over just six times and dishing out 37 assists against a terrible Bobcats team. What gave Thibodeau the most pleasure, aside from the ball control and ball movement, was that his team controlled the pace from start to finish.
"We were disappointed in the way we played and we felt we beat ourselves (Thursday)," Thibodeau said. "So we wanted to correct that. "I thought we responded well to that."
A hallmark of Thibodeau's tenure in Chicago has been the way his team bounces back after losses and the Bulls proved that again on Friday night. They responded to the challenge that Thibodeau laid in front of them and picked themselves up after a poor showing against the Heat -- a team they hope they'll see again in the playoffs.
"Everyone played well tonight," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "I thought we played a great team game. We needed this game after (Thursday) night. I thought we didn't play well at all (Thursday) night and it's good just to get a win and keep it moving."
Deng spoke the truth. The Bulls did everything they were supposed to do and overpowered the Bobcats. Aside from the lack of turnovers, the most impressive part of the night for the Bulls was the fact the ball moved constantly. Too often in the Heat loss the offense went stagnant and there was no motion. Thibodeau had his players watch some tape and fixed the problem.
"I liked some of the play calls that Thibs was calling tonight," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "The ball was moving, the ball was hopping a lot more. When (Carlos Boozer) is catching it in the post, everyone's cutting, everybody's getting an opportunity to score and it's contagious."
The contagiousness extended beyond the passing game. The Bulls showed a level of focus that they have struggled to play with in recent weeks. They hit their spots on the floor and did exactly what Thibodeau wanted them to do. They remembered their loss to the same Bobcats team on New Year's Eve and wanted to make amends for it.
"I thought we had the right mindset," Thibodeau said. "I thought the ball movement was very good. I thought the screening was good, the cutting was good, eight guys in double figures, 37 assists, six turnovers, so that part was good."
No, that part was great. Obviously, the Bulls understand that the Bobcats aren't very good, but the key for them is that they didn't take them lightly this time around. They knew what they had to do and they went out and did it. In the process, Taj Gibson believes his team got back to its roots.
"It reminded me of how we were last year," Gibson said. "Whenever we got a loss we would just bounce back. We always made sure we weren't trying to get two losses in a row. That's the kind of mindset we're trying to take into the second half of the season and we try to keep pushing. Guys got to know what they got to do on defense, guys got to step up on offense, it's going to take a whole collective team (effort) til Derrick (Rose) gets back and (until) whenever that happens we have to keep holding down the fort."
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