After coming up with few stops in a lackluster performance over the weekend, the Chicago Bulls bounced back with one of their stronger defensive efforts.
The Bulls now try to make things tough for a Minnesota Timberwolves team coming off an embarrassing offensive showing and playing its third game in as many days Tuesday night at the Target Center.
Chicago (8-2) takes great pride in its defense, but couldn't be too proud of its performance in Saturday's 109-94 loss to Atlanta. The Bulls yielded 63 first-half points and fell behind by as many as 29, en route to allowing opponent season highs in scoring and field-goal percentage (56.6).
The Bulls quickly put that horrible showing behind them Monday, limiting Detroit to 39.4 percent shooting and forcing a season-high 19 turnovers in a 92-68 home victory.
"It's just defense," said Derrick Rose, who finished with 22 points and eight assists in 33 minutes. "If every night can be like this where we played defense and get out and run, it would be easy. But it's been hard. We tried to come back from the last game, where it was embarrassing to play in a game like that, and just try to keep playing. That's what we did."
The Bulls, whose lone back-to-back-to-back stretch of the season will conclude at home Wednesday versus winless Washington, hope to replicate Monday's performance against the Timberwolves (3-6), who shot a season-worst 33.8 percent in Monday's 97-87 loss to Toronto.
Minnesota's starting five combined for a season-low 37 points with Kevin Love experiencing the most trouble.
The All-Star forward went 3 of 16 from the field and finished with a season-low 13 points -- 11 below his team-leading average -- and also missed half of his 10 foul shots. He had made 24 of 30 free throws in his previous five games.
"It felt like there was a cap on the rim at some point," said Love, who did grab 14 rebounds for his ninth consecutive double-double. "I remember (missing) a reverse layup and looking at it like 'You've got to be kidding me."
The Timberwolves would seemingly be at a disadvantage against Chicago playing in Toronto on Monday and Washington on Sunday, but teams playing for a third consecutive day have enjoyed surprising success. All six NBA teams that have completed back-to-back-to-back stretches have won the finale.
Minnesota's performance Monday, however, gave little reason to believe it can find a way to beat a Chicago team that has swept the last two season series. The Bulls have won the last four meetings with the Timberwolves by an average of 17.0 points.
Carlos Boozer averaged 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds against the Timberwolves in 2010-11, and is averaging 18.5 points, 8.3 boards and shooting 56.9 percent in his last four games overall. He finished with a season-high 23 points and shot 9 of 13 in 26 minutes Monday, as the Bulls improved to 4-1 during their first stretch of nine games in 12 days in 30 years.
"It's more like AAU except it's in the NBA," Boozer said of the intense travel schedule. "So give you a chance to flash back then get back to work. Honestly, we would rather play the games than the alternative."