At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Chicago Bulls were staring at arguably their worst loss of the season.
After rookie Cade Cunningham’s layup bounced off the back of the rim, Hamidou Diallo came flying in from the baseline for the putback slam. The emphatic bucket vaulted Pistons fans to their feet and pushed the Bulls down 7 points to the NBA’s 3rd-worst team. A final 12 minutes were about to be put on the clock, but the Bulls were trending in the wrong direction in a game where it should have been the opposite.
Then, Tristan Thompson opened his month. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine too.
“Things that I can’t repeat,” DeRozan responded to reporters when asked what was said. “But, you know, it got everybody going where we needed to go, and we got the W.”
Several times cameras caught LaVine and DeRozan talking through the game-plan and ensuring their teammates were on the same page. In arguably the most memorable movement, however, we saw Thompson screaming in the huddle before that 4th quarter tipped-off. It may have provoked a pretty funny reaction from rookie Ayo Dosunmu, but it was a meaningful one.
Check it out:
Tristan Thompson yelling at the Bulls Bench.
"This is what a veteran guy does, try to tell these younger guys you gotta wake up."
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 10, 2022
Considering how great the chemistry has been on this team all season long, I could understand how a clip like that might draw some concern, especially since it involves a mid-season pick-up. But don’t knock it until the final buzzer sounds, right?
After Thompson’s blow-up, the Bulls broke out a 30-17 4th quarter. They forced the Pistons into 5 turnovers, outrebounded them 12-6, shot 50.0 percent from the floor, and forced 13 free-throw attempts. LaVine and DeRozan were the catalysts of this comeback victory, but it took a group effort on the defensive end and in transition to put this team in a position to succeed. And it sure felt like that group effort came thanks to these firey timeouts.
We haven’t seen the Bulls go through this kind of moment yet. And, to be sure, we don’t want to see them go through it many times more. But this is what veteran players and teams do. Head coach Billy Donovan praised the leadership of LaVine, DeRozan, and Thompson during these timeouts for a reason. All three held the team accountable mid-game, and the team responded in the way they should. Again, it can be toxic if anyone goes this route too often, but there is a time and place for a little heated reality check.