AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The beauty of the Chicago Bulls' standards under Tom Thibodeau is that even when they win they aren't happy. They always believe they can do better. Nothing changed in Wednesday night's 99-83 win over the Detroit Pistons, either.
With 3:35 left in the game, and his team leading by 14, Thibodeau kept reminding his team of its simple mantra before they went back out on to the floor.
"48 minutes," his barked through in his perpetually hoarse baritone. "48 minutes, 48 minutes."
Even as the final seconds ticked off the clock, Thibodeau wanted to squeeze every ounce of effort out of his team. That's why even after the win, none of his players thought they had lived up their coach's high standards.
"Not tonight," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said before the question could even be finished. "Not at the end. Too many easy baskets. I think we let off a little bit, but a win is a win."
That was sentiment no matter where you turned in the locker room.
"We still have a lot of work to do to be a 48-minute team," said Bulls center Joakim Noah, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds. "But I think it's good to be critical, and it's good to be not happy when you're not playing at you're best. I feel good that we won today. I feel like we competed hard. It felt good to be out there on the court."
That's what Thibodeau is always demanding from his players. He wants them to compete every second they are out on the floor. While it seemed as if the Bulls did that against a much weaker Pistons' team, Thibodeau won't allow his team to settle.
"We're still not a 48-minute team," Thibodeau said.
But then Thibodeau gave his team public credit they probably aren't used to hearing.
"I like the way we're moving," Thibodeau said. "I think we responded well to our performance [in Tuesday's comeback win over the Atlanta Hawks]. I thought our concentration was really good today. I want us to move in the right direction so this was a good day, but in this league once you start feeling good about yourself, you're going to get knocked on your butt. We got to be ready. We're going to Orlando [on Friday]. They're really good."