NEW YORK -- With the way the Chicago Bulls' season has gone over the past few weeks, Taj Gibson and his teammates have two choices with regard to how they could feel. They could cry because of all the heartbreak and injuries they continue to endure, or they could laugh at all the bad luck they've had and smile with the hope that better days are ahead.
While the Bulls are understandably frustrated with the way they have been playing lately, especially after Wednesday night's 83-78 loss to the lowly New York Knicks -- their ninth in the past 11 games -- Gibson and most of his teammates chose the latter when it came to how they were handling their emotions.
Then Gibson did something that has been rare to see around this team in recent weeks -- he actually cracked a smile.
"You can see I'm guarding 3's," he said. "I'm guarding twos, I'm even playing the three spot at times. It's kind of awkward, but we're just trying to find ways to win."
That's the thing about these Bulls. They are still broken-hearted over the fact Derrick Rose suffered another season-ending knee injury. They are still in an emotional rut because of the recent turn of events. But amid all of the bad things, they remain confident that at some point in the near future things will turn around. They came back from a 23-point deficit in Wednesday's game and almost pulled out a win. Coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't do moral victories, but he knows his team is getting closer to turning things around.
"The fight is good and we're capable of doing better," Thibodeau said. "The important thing is for us to understand that every game is winnable. It always comes back to the three things that you talk about to be in position to win. Your defense, your rebounding and low turnovers. If you do those three things you'll be in position to win."
Somehow the Bulls were still in position to win Wednesday night despite turning the ball over 22 times. The veteran coach and his players are holding on to the fact that things are only going to get better as players like Luol Deng (Achilles) and Butler (turf toe) return.
"I think it's tough," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "Losing sucks. We've been through a lot this year. A lot of adversity. But I think we have a positive group and I think you can't get too down on yourself. We just got to move onto the next game and I think as guys come back, as guys understand what their roles are, I think our team will be a lot better."
The Bulls have lost a lot of talent over the course of the season, but they have yet to lose one of the most important ingredients for any professional sports team over the course of a long season -- hope.
"I think guys in the locker room understand," Deng said. "I think the one thing we have in this locker room is we've all had great seasons, we've all succeeded and we've all been with teams that struggle. And we just remind each other that -- when things are good we're in it together and when things are bad we're in it together. When things go bad you've got to find your way out of it. And when things are good you've got to find a way to keep it that way."