Following an embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, in which the Bulls led by 13 in the first quarter and then choked the game away to a 109-108 OT loss, the Bulls have finally started to pull their pieces together.
The loss to the Timberwolves was the Bulls' fifth consecutive loss in a streak that also included losses to the Knicks (who have given up over 100 combined points to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in back-to-back home games) and the Toronto Raptors (19-32).
Derrick Rose was able to take over these games, and was showing that, when he is able to lead, the Bulls are able to win. He scored 23 against the Clippers and had 11 assists against the Kings.
However, those were two bad teams, their next game against the Phoenix Suns was going to be the test to prove that they can beat a good team, and show that they were over their five-game slide.
The Bulls passed that test with flying colors, with a great game by the combined backcourt efforts of Rose and Ben Gordon, who combined for 52 points while holding Steve Nash and Jason Richardson to a combined 27.
The Bulls had won three straight by an average of 17.3 PPG, a great mark for a team that had just hit 20 wins. They lost their next game to the strong Houston Rockets, but were able to add another win last night over the Chris Paul-less New Orleans Hornets.
Derrick Rose, the star of the past five games, put up another good game, scoring 21.
Although Derrick Rose had been the star, there has been another constant in Tyrus Thomas.
Over the past five games, Thomas has four double-doubles and has been averaging 13.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. The addition of a post game has allowed the Bulls to open up the floor more.
It also gives Derrick Rose another person to pass to and another person who can take some of the pressure off of him. As a result, he has responded.
With three more games against strong opponents (at Dallas, vs. Detroit, vs. Miami) in a row, as well as more tough games later in the month (Denver, Orlando, and Houston) the Bulls will need to continue their strong play of late.
If Tyrus Thomas can continue scoring and rebounding better, Rose will have the weapons to pick apart any team.
Although Rose is the star, the season depends on how well Thomas is able to play inside along with Joakim Noah. If they can play at a high level, the sky is the limit for the Bulls.
But if the pair of first-round busts continue to live up to their mediocrity, the season could be a wash, and this string of five games could be all for not.
I'm Joe W.