There's something to be said for moral victories.
But until the NBA changes its rules, only real wins count in the standings—and the Chicago Bulls would do well to start picking up more of the latter.
The Bulls suffered their seventh loss of the season Thursday night, bowing to the Phoenix Suns 112-102.
With each game comes a new story. This time, it was coach Scott Skiles replacing Tyrus Thomas with Andres Nocioni in the starting lineup.
The result, unfortunately, was more of the same.
On defense, the Bulls were unable to get back on the fast break, which the Suns exploited at every opportunity.
The Suns had 24 fast break points to the Bulls' 15.
To their credit, though, the Bulls did show some fight, outscoring Phoenix 29-19 in the third quarter to to tie the game.
Luol Deng shot 10-18 from the field and finished with 23 points and nine rebounds. Deng’s leadership has been questioned of late—but he seemed to answer his critics on Thursday.
Ben Gordon finished with 24 point, and Nocioni added 18.
The Bulls' ball movement also looked better, as did their spacing and control of the game.
2. The Paint
The Bulls outscored the Suns in the post 42-40—much of which is a reflection of Chicago's decision to drive to the paint in the third quarter.
That's a welcome change of pace from the team's first six games.
The Bulls looked as though they genuinely wanted to win the game. The third-quarter run was proof of that.
A team that many regard as “scrappy” matched Phoenix basket for basket—the only problem was that the Bulls were hitting two's while Phoenix getting three's.
If the Bulls remain focused, they could see a quick turnaround—possibly before the All-Star break.
If they're serious about contending in '07-'08, the time to come together is now.