Chicago Bulls

Rajon Rondo’s assist total strong barometer for Bulls’ success

Here’s a passing thought: The Bulls are 5-0 when Rajon Rondo posts 10 or more assists.

Rondo’s season-high 14 assists in Monday night’s blowout of the Pistons helped set a tone of ball movement and unselfishness that pervaded the offense. The Bulls tied a season-high with 34 assists on 49 field goals.

Often when Rondo is engaged defensively, as he looked Monday, he plays well offensively.

“That’s a team-wide thing,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “If we come out with a defensive focus and mindset, it’s so much easier to play offense when you’re not taking the ball out of the net. We were forcing Detroit into misses, getting the ball out and playing with pace. Give Rondo a lot of credit for that.”

Rondo rarely seeks out any of that.

“Just playing basketball,” Rondo said. “Making the right play.”

But chew on this: The Bulls are just 2-6 when he has five assists or fewer.

At 7.2 assists per game, Rondo has sneaked into the top-10 in the league despite averaging just 30.8 minutes. He’s currently ninth and only the Pelicans’ Tim Frazier, who is sixth, has averaged fewer minutes per game among those in the top-10.

Talk is cheap: Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and Jimmy Butler agree on at least one thing — team meetings are overrated.

In the wake of Monday’s embarrassing blowout loss to the Bulls, which followed the Pistons’ player-only meeting Saturday, Van Gundy went on one of his classic rants.

“Team meeting my ass,”Van Gundy said. “That stuff means nothing. It’s what you do on the court. Talking’s easy.”

Last Friday, after the Bulls’ third straight embarrassing defeat, Butler downplayed the need for a team meeting.

“That’s all hype man,” Butler said. “We know what we’re capable of. We have to execute. We don’t need to sit in a circle and hold each other’s hands and talk about all that.”

Layups: Taj Gibson became the first Bull since Jamal Crawford in March 2002 not to miss a shot with at least eight field-goal attempts. Gibson made all eight shots versus the Pistons. … Hoiberg said Michael Carter-Williams is to take contact in 2-on-2 half-court sessions this weekend.

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