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Full-ensemble effort by Bulls
Officially, Ben Wallace didn't record an assist during the Bulls' 100-82 thrashing of Boston on Monday night at the United Center.
But what he passed around the locker room after the game carried impact beyond any box score.
It was his 2003-04 NBA championship ring.
Wallace, who had seven points, four rebounds and three blocks while battling foul trouble, made sure the young, impressionable Bulls saw his hardware from his Detroit days.
"That's what the game is all about, man," Wallace said. "At the end of the day, no matter what you do, you're always going to be judged by wins and losses.
"This is the ultimate goal. That's what I'm in it for. That's what everybody else should be in it for. We shouldn't care about personal accomplishments."
The Bulls used their preferred formula of getting contributions from many and turning defense into offense as all 12 players scored and five reached double figures.
They've won five in a row and are now 5-1 at the United Center. Six games of the franchise-record eight-game homestand remain. Can the Bulls run the table?
"Yeah, we can play with anybody," Luol Deng said. "We're stepping it up, especially defensively."
Andres Nocioni hit his first five shots and led the Bulls with 20 points. Deng, who has scored in double figures all 17 games, added 14.
For Boston, which played without Wally Szczerbiak, who's nursing a sprained left ankle, Paul Pierce managed just eight points on 4-for-13 shooting. That's the first time Pierce, who entered ranked eighth in the league at 26.9 points, failed to hit double figures this season.
"I thought that's as well as [Deng] has played him since he's been in the league," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "He did a good job of limiting his touches. He tried to crowd him and make him take difficult shots."
Nocioni rallied from rolling his left ankle early in the first quarter to help spark an 11-0 run that closed the period.
"The team is playing well, and everybody is playing with confidence," Nocioni said. "If I'm making my shot, it's much better for the team because everybody has to take care of me and this opens it up for others."
Kirk Hinrich scored six in the spurt, including three on a six-point possession. Hinrich got fouled while making a three-pointer and missed the free throw, which P.J. Brown rebounded. Nocioni then scored and converted the three-point play.
The run grew to 20-4 early in the second after Nocioni drained a three-pointer. The Bulls led the league in three-point shooting entering Monday's action but went just 4-for-18 from that distance.
"I'm not a fan of the three-point shot being in the game," Skiles said. "But as long as they keep taking open ones, I don't have any problem with it."
The Bulls have built 30-point leads in successive games, so they must be an offensive juggernaut, right?
Not so fast, said Wallace, who played just 18 minutes because of his foul trouble and the blowout.
Big Ben theorizes bad offense was hurting the defense.
"Before, we were putting so much pressure on our defense by taking quick shots and not giving ourselves a chance to set our defense up," Wallace said.
"Our execution on the offensive end is a lot better. We're taking good shots, which allows to get back and set up our defense.
"Your offense can definitely help your defense. If you take bad shots, everybody is out of position and you can't get back."
Asked about Wallace's theory in a question referencing "Ben," Skiles cracked wise.
"I'll assume since you were talking about defense, you were talking about Ben Wallace and not Ben Gordon," he said.
That's what happens during win streaks. Smiles abound.