COMMENTARY | Two nights after his Chicago Bulls defeated the Miami Heat in Florida in a revealing display of skill and confidence, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau faced reporters asking for an explanation.
After all, he was asked, the Bulls that beat the defending champion Heat was the same team that lost at home to a Charlotte Bobcats team four days earlier. The Bobcats were on an 18-game losing streak before beating the Bulls.
So how does a team that loses at home to Charlotte travel to Miami and win? Thibodeau was asked to explain. He did not, but he did explain his "one game at a time'' approach to the NBA.
"You learn from each game,'' he said. "You've just got to get ready for the next one. You are not looking backwards, you are looking ahead. You have to concentrate on improvement, understand what it takes to win in each game, and then move forward."
Luckily, that first question, which was not exactly answered, was followed by another question from a different reporter, basically asking the same thing - how does a team lose to Charlotte and beat Miami?
"It's not an end-all, be-all because you win a game on the road. You have to move forward. You have to study and understand why you won, make the necessary corrections, and study and prepare for your next opponent. You don't get anything extra for winning a game against a certain team. They all count the same. You want to be consistent in your approach, you want to analyze after every game why you won or lost, get ready for your next opponent, and hopefully that leads to being a more consistent team, and that is what we strive for."
It became clear Thibodeau was not going to discuss how a team could lose at home to a bad team and win on the road against the best team. But he did say, time and again, that what he strives for is consistency.
So that is clearly the push he has to make for the Bulls this season. For the past two seasons, the Bulls have been dreadfully consistent, going all out to win every possible game and winning enough of them to have the best record in the league two years in a row.
But that was with Derrick Rose. Without him, the Bulls are so inconsistent it's impossible to know what the outcome of any game is going to be. The Bulls are not even consistent from one half to another, as demonstrated by their second half collapse against Milwaukee at home on Jan. 9.
So Thibodeau will continue to strive for consistency while consistently trying to ignore the cry for the return of Rose.
Kent McDill has covered the Bulls for three different companies: for United Press International from 1985-88, for the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., from 1988-99 and currently for NBA.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title "100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die'' published by Triumph Books.