CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah, the emotional leader of the Chicago Bulls, delivered a personal challenge of sorts to his teammates after an embarrassing 99-77 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.
"Losing sucks," Noah said as he sat dejectedly in front of his locker. "There's no question about it. But it also shows people's true colors. Who's willing to keep fighting through the adversity or who's just going to say, 'You know what? I don't want no part of this, and I'm just going to take bad shots and just not care at all about making winning plays or playing defense and things like that.' So everybody has to stick together. Everybody has to jell and keep fighting together."
For the first time in a while, it looked like the Bulls had stopped fighting together, especially toward the end of the game. Tom Thibodeau said he didn't want to use the fact that his team was playing its fourth game in five nights as an excuse, but maybe he should have. Battered by injuries and inconsistencies, the Bulls looked lifeless down the stretch and appear to be on the verge of another breaking point in a lost season.
Although Noah didn't call anyone out by name, many fans will look at his comments and guess that he was referring to Carlos Boozer. The veteran power forward was just 4-for-18 from the field and has been playing poor defense over the past few weeks since Rose tore the medial meniscus in his right knee. Boozer has never been a good defender but his effort has been noticeably lackluster in recent games, as was the case in 27 minutes of play on Saturday night.
Whether Noah was referring to Boozer directly or not, though, shouldn't overlook the fact that the Bulls, as a group, have been bad since Rose went down. Boozer isn't the only problem on this flawed team that was built to win around Rose -- not play another season without him.