Trans. Dec 9 8:26 ET (Dec 9 8:26 ET ) At this point, in the midst of what’s turning into another injury-riddled Bulls season, the lone constant the team can count on nightly has become the consistently stellar play of one Taj Gibson. Not that he’s an unknown quantity around the league, but the Bulls’ top reserve has clearly taken his game to another level this campaign, complementing his already upper-echelon defense, high energy, above-the-rim play and work on the glass with a polished offensive game, featuring dynamic post moves and an accurate mid-range jumper, two things he showed glimpses of in the past. It’s still early in the regular season, but assuming Gibson can keep up his current pace — he’s averaging a career-high 12.4 points each contest, to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game — there’s reason to believe that he could be in the running for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award at season’s end. If they’re looking forward to giving me that or even recommend me, it would be great, but I’m just trying to step up and help my team win games,” said the easygoing fifth-year big man, when asked if he thought his play warranted inclusion in that discussion, though the honor typically goes to high-scoring, instant-offense reserve perimeter players.
Joakim Noah may have summed it up best, if a tad inappropriately: “We sucked tonight and we’ll do better next game,” the All-Star center repeated, following the Bulls’ 92-75 loss to the Pistons at the United Center. But without three starters—All-Star small forward Luol Deng, suffering from a sore left Achilles’, joined sidelined shooting guard Jimmy Butler, still recovering from a turf-toe injury, and of course, Derrick Rose—Detroit won in Chicago for the first time since 2006, courtesy of the Bulls’ 33.3 percent shooting from the field, a nine-point third quarter, losing the battle of the boards and allowing 12-for-19 three-point shooting, a major reason Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings scored 33 points on the evening. You have a good win and the thing you’re concerned with is how quickly everything can change, so you lose a guy and you’re starting a different group, then your bench changes,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. Taj Gibson, filling in for Deng at a new position and perhaps the Bulls’ lone bright spot, scoring 21 points and 10 rebounds to notch another stellar outing in what’s been a career individual season thus far, was similarly defiant.
Just when it seemed like the doldrums brought on in the aftermath of the disastrous “Circus Trip” were a thing of the past, another lackluster performance came to the surface Saturday night at the United Center, as the undermanned Bulls (8-10), lacking their two primary scoring threats, lost to the Pistons (10-10), 92-75, in Detroit’s first win in Chicago since 2006. The forward tandem of Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson (21 points, 10 rebounds)—the latter, usually the former’s understudy, started at small forward in place of injured All-Star Luol Deng, who missed the contest due to a lingering sore left Achilles’—were the Bulls’ protagonists in the early going, sparking a slim lead in the opening minutes of the game. The Pistons’ own duo of point guard Brandon Jennings (33 points) and power forward Greg Monroe (eight points, 12 rebounds) kept the visitors close, however, and eventually enabled Detroit to seize the lead, as reserve swingman Kyle Singler provided a spark off the bench.