They weren't dwelling on it. Instead, they were dealing with it.
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"That's the big thing about a team game," Lopez said. "Everybody came together and everybody stepped it up."
Luol Deng had 19 points and eight rebounds for Chicago. Nate Robinson scored 15, and Marco Belinelli added 13 against his former team, but the Bulls shot 33 percent in this one after hitting just under 64 percent of their shots the previous night in an easy win over Cleveland. It was a particularly rough night for Richard Hamilton and Carlos Boozer, who shot a combined 3 for 18 and each finished with four points after scoring 19 apiece against the Cavaliers.
The Hornets trailed by seven in the second quarter and led by 10 in the third but had to hang on down the stretch, with Robinson making it as tough as he could on them.
He scored all but four of his points in the fourth to help keep the Bulls in it, but they ultimately came up short.
His jumper with 1:16 left made it 81-77, and Chicago had a chance to make it a one-possession game after Taj Gibson blocked Smith. Instead, Belinelli missed a 3.
Smith hit two free throws with 53.5 seconds left. Roger Mason Jr. added two more to make it 85-77, and the Hornets prevailed because they didn't back down without their prized rookie.
"We don't get a lot of credit or notoriety for being a physical team, but that's something we've prided ourselves on since I've been here, was to play a physical style of basketball, legally," coach Monty Williams said. "I don't think we out-worked them, I just think the ball came our way a few times and it was just a major battle in that paint. Anytime you play against Chicago, a team that [Tom Thibodeau] is gonna coach, you know you're gonna play a team that is gonna hit you right in the mouth."
He had to be feeling better after this one. Before the game, though, he made it clear he wasn't thrilled with the NBA.
While Davis was back in New Orleans being examined after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head from teammate Austin Rivers in the first half of Friday's win over Utah, Williams was unloading.
He blasted the NBA's protocols for determining when a player can return from a concussion before this game, saying, "Now, they treat everybody like they have white gloves and pink drawers and it's getting old. It's just the way the league is now."
He had to like the way his team stepped up even though Davis was out.
"You see how guys came in with high motors, understood that this is their time to get their minutes," Chicago's Taj Gibson said. "This league is all about guys stepping up. You saw Robin Lopez and Ryan Anderson, guys coming in with a high motor, gaining confidence early and playing well."
The Bulls also saw some missed opportunities, particularly near the rim. When they drove, Thibodeau said he saw "a lot of flipping instead of attacking," but it wasn't just that. He saw players not hustling back on defense after a miss, and that really bothered him.
"The thing that bothered me was our approach to defensive transition," he said. "When you're not shooting well, you can't allow that to sap your energy in terms of getting back, setting your defense."
|Without injured No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, Robin Lopez contributes 16 points to help the Hornets get past the Bulls. (US Presswire)|
|New Orleans (2-1) «||21||25||20||23||89|
|NO:G. Vasquez 18 Pts
NO:R. Anderson 13 Reb
NO:G. Vasquez 6 Ast
|CHI:L. Deng 19 Pts
CHI:J. Noah 11 Reb
CHI:K. Hinrich 4 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|R. Anderson, PF||42||5-13||1-1||13||1||4||12|
|G. Vasquez, PG||36||6-18||4-4||4||6||2||18|
|A. Rivers, SG||34||4-12||1-2||3||2||3||9|
|R. Lopez, C||33||7-10||2-4||7||0||0||16|
|A. Aminu, SF||27||4-6||0-0||6||1||4||8|
|R. Mason Jr., SG||21||2-3||2-2||2||1||1||8|
|D. Miller, SF||18||0-1||0-0||3||1||2||0|
|J. Smith, PF||15||4-5||8-8||2||0||4||16|
|B. Roberts, PG||6||0-5||2-2||3||1||0||2|
|L. Thomas, SF||5||0-2||0-0||1||0||1||0|
|X. Henry, SG||3||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|H. Warrick, PF||Did Not Play|
|E. Gordon, SG||Did Not Play|
|A. Davis, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|L. Deng, SF||43||6-15||7-10||8||4||0||19|
|J. Noah, C||43||4-12||3-4||11||3||6||11|
|C. Boozer, PF||26||1-8||2-2||7||2||2||4|
|K. Hinrich, PG||24||1-8||0-0||2||4||2||2|
|R. Hamilton, SG||19||2-10||0-0||2||2||2||4|
|M. Belinelli, SG||29||4-10||3-3||0||2||3||13|
|N. Robinson, PG||24||6-16||2-2||5||2||3||15|
|T. Gibson, PF||21||4-7||4-4||5||1||2||12|
|J. Butler, SF||6||1-1||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|N. Mohammed, C||4||0-0||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|V. Radmanovic, SF||1||0-1||0-0||0||1||0||0|
|D. Rose, PG||Did Not Play|
|M. Teague, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|