Derrick Who? Bulls Dominate Suns 118-97

Derrick Who? Bulls Dominate Suns 118-97
Photo by Keith Allison

Box Score

So much for the Bulls' offense being impotent without Derrick Rose on the floor.

Carlos Boozer scored 26 of his 31 points before halftime, and CJ Watson was literally perfect for the first three quarters as the Bulls put up 67 first-half points in a 118-97 rout of Phoenix Tuesday night.

Watson played all but six minutes of the first three quarters and hit all seven of his shots- including a pair of threes- and all four of his free throws for 20 points on a ridiculous 114.2% true shooting percentage. He also had four rebounds, five assists and two steals- with no turnovers.

Watson finished the night with 23 points filling in for Rose, who sat out a second consecutive game to rest up his sprained big toe. Rip Hamilton, who had missed the last eight games with a groin injury, stepped right back into the starting lineup and put up a solid 11 points to go with a team-high six assists (with no turnovers).

Luol Deng only played 27 minutes, but he had a very nice game with 15 points on 4/9 shooting, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Like Rip, Deng didn't commit a turnover either.

Joakim Noah had a nice active double-double with 13 points on 6/10 shooting and 12 rebounds (6 offensive). Let's hope this was a step towards Jo finding his game, the Bulls aren't going to beat the Heat in the playoffs without Noah coming up big in the series.

Even Omer Asik came off the bench to score 11 points on 5/6 shooting, but to be honest there wasn't a lot of defense being played in the fourth quarter of this game. And he had two of the Bulls' season-low six turnovers on the night.

The Suns came into the UC on a four-game losing streak, and they didn't put up much of a fight in this one. They hit four of their first six shots for an 11-10 lead four minutes into the game, but the Bulls promptly went on a 9-0 run over the next two minutes and Phoenix never seriously challenged the Bulls after that.

The Bulls led 39-31 after the first quarter, and Boozer took over in the second. He hit 6/7 shots and both of his free throws to pace the Bulls to a 67-47 halftime lead.

This is the Boozer the Bulls and their fans had yet to see this season- he scored on jumpers, drives and nice passes around the basket. The Suns don't play a lot of defense, but Boozer still looked outstanding- it's hard to say how much of that was bad defense and how much of it was Rip Hamilton coming back.

Hamilton totally changes the Bulls offense when he is in the game, his mid-range game isn't as automatic as it used to be, but he is such a smart player that he just knows where to be on the court. His passing tonight was top-notch, and even though it's still early in the season, the Bulls offense looks twice as good when Hamilton plays.

The Bulls offensive rating was over 113 in the five games Rip had played coming into tonight's game, and this romp certainly had to help that number.

I hope Bulls fans are all excited to see Rip back- again it's still early, but he might just be the tonic the Bulls need to get past Miami in late May.

Steve Nash is still Steve Nash- he had 25 points on 10/13 shooting, including 3/3 from behind the arc. He just doesn't have any help outside of Marcin Gortat (14 points on 5/7 FG and 15 rebounds)- Grant Hill is old, Channing Frye has been garbage so far this season, and Jared Dudley just isn't that good.

Their bench is horrible, and with the Bulls not playing in Phoenix this season because of the abbreviated schedule, tonight was probably the last time the Bulls will see Nash in a Suns uniform. Phoenix's front office just has to hope right now that some team will have a PG get injured or play horribly and really need a replacement, if not they can't even get much in return if they decide to trade Nash.

The Bulls are now 13-3 with two badly needed days off coming up next. They will be back in action Friday at Cleveland- I am hoping to have a special Cavs' guest on Bullsville Radio that day, but I don't want to jinx it by saying who it is just yet.


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  • The Bulls offense looks great when Rip is in. He could possibly be a better facilitator than Rose. This has to make Booz and Noah jobs easier. Its still early, but i think what will get us thru Miami is improved team offense as opposed to us needing a second superstar. More balanced scoring will make Rose that much more deadly. If this team stays healthy we will have to be considered favorites for the title. We're just that good.

  • The Bulls offense certainly looks better with Rip playing- but to be fair, outside of the Lakers and their 5th-ranked defense, Hamilton's five games have come against defenses who rank 23rd or worse in the league.

    That being said, it's obvious to anyone who watches the games how much more efficient the Bulls offense with Rip on the floor.

    Rip played for what was without a doubt the best "team" the NBA has seen since MJ retired- that was a group of castoffs who wound up meshing together and going to six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals.

    This Bulls team is built to be very similar to those Pistons teams- balanced offense and 48 minutes of hell on defense.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Rip Hamilton's return will definitely help Boozer and Noah. It showed even dating back to preseason, but as you correctly noted they haven't played against good defense much so far.

    If Derrick misses extended time, I'll be interested in seeing what happens with the Boozer/Noah chemistry now that Hamilton and Watson are back to provide some perimeter scoring punch in Derrick's absence. Boozer and Noah haven't player particuarly well individually or together, but I think Derrick actually complicates this some of the time, instead of making the game easier. When Derrick starts to dance with the ball instead of giving the ball up early he creates uncertainty in the defense, but he also creates uncertainity in his teammates. Now a lot of time Derrick still generates good things by keeping the ball, but there is a middle ground in between being passive the way he started the season and pounding the ball.

    I think it is possible that Boozer and Noah find some chemistry with Derrick out of the lineup provided that Hamilton and Watson stay healthy enough to play and give Boozer and Noah some room to operate on offense.

  • In reply to scotter:

    That's a good point about the offense with Derrick out- it used to be said during the dynasty years that the Bulls ran the Triangle so the other players would have something to fall back on when MJ wasn't in the game.

    Just like Derrick, he could get his own whenever he wanted- but by dominating the ball (like Rose does) he caused his teammates to stand around and watch a lot of times. If you run a good, efficient offense the superstar can still get his whenever he wants, but the other guys stay involved as well.

  • very good points about Rip, so far it seems like Rip will almost never have a game that you can be upset with him, because he's so solid and shows it all the time...Yea, Nash looks awesome still, and I've heard from some Bulls writers about the possibility of Nash playing elsewhere, like the Knicks, before the season ends, I just hope there is no way he ends up with NY cause it could be what they need to keep the other 2 from playing with little teamwork. I haven't checked out the salary and all that, but it would be hard for me to imagine that this is possible, I hope he stays in Phoenix and doesn't help any other team...
    I liked how the Bulls ran last night by whoever was open on the wing they gave it to right away (Deng, Hamilton, Lucas, Watson, even Brewer) instead of waiting for the point guard. Sometimes, when Rose is in, they only look for him and this slows it up at times. Not anyone's fault in particular, I just hope when Rose is playing, they get it out to whoever's open right away and not always wait for Rose when he isn't open right away..
    Nice to see Booz and Noah like that of course, just need the consistency now...sit Rose for the weekend, go Bulls!

  • The Knicks literally cannot trade for Nash- Carmelo, Amare and Tyson combine to make $50 million this year, and the entire roster outside of those three comine to make $11 million. Nash make $11.69 million in the final year of his contract, but the Knicks cannot trade their entire roster away for Nash.

    The Knicks don't have a trade exception, and I can't see why the Knicks would trade Tyson for Nash, and I surely don't see why Phoenix would want Tyson.

  • ok, yea that sounds like what I thought, not gonna happen.

  • In reply to Keep:

    I was with you 100%, Nash would be a perfect fit with the Knicks, and might even make them a very good team.

    But then I looked at the salaries, and they just can't do it.

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    Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. The same year (1980), as a student assistant at Seeger Memorial High School in West Lebanon, IN, he was one of the first in the world to use, study and implement analytics in basketball. He attended Daytona State College and Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (NBA Runaround: The NBA According to Ellis) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters), where he was fortunate enough to work with many rising stars, including NFL Network's Dan Hellie, Redskins coach Jay Gruden, Magic radio and TV personality Dante Marchitelli, and WSB-TV (Atlanta) Sports Director Zach Klein. In addition to running the Bullsville blog and officiating basketball, baseball and football for the KHSAA, he is also a bass player and vocalist who writes and produces music in his spare time (you may remember his internet hit "I Hate Eddy Curry"). He's a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, a Bulls fan since the days of Van Lier and Sloan, and a life-long New England Patriots fan. He's seen Primus 9 times and thinks Les Claypool walks on water. By far his greatest accomplishment is being a father of three and grandfather of one.

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