Derrick Rose was back in the starting lineup tonight for the Bulls, and he led the way with team-highs of 24 points and 7 assists in a 102-91 home victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Derrick got a lot help on the offensive end as Jimmy Butler sank 4/7 from behind the arc on the way to 19 points, while Pau Gasol had an outstanding all-around game with 17 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 4 assists. It was the fifth double-double in eight games for the Spainard who is looking like the free-agent steal of the summer through 10% of the season.
Even the most optimistic of Bulls fans probably didn't figure Gasol would give the team 18.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.38 blocks in just under 35 minutes a night. Of course, the folks who complained the loudest about Gasol did so by proclaiming that "the Bulls need a Shooting Guard!! Jimmy Butler can't play Shooting Guard!!".
Those folks are obviously zero for two through the first eight games, as Jimmy had another outstanding game on the offensive end. He gave the Bulls 19 points on 6/12 shooting, including four of seven on 3-pointers.
Butler is now shooting 38.9% from behind the arc, while shooting an average of three triples per game. With his size making him a mismatch against most shooting guards in the post, he has found himself leading the Bulls in scoring at 19.5 points per game. He scored eight of his points in the fourth quarter, hitting 2/3 field goals and all three of his free throw attempts as he and Rose (8 points) combined to score 16 of the team's 24 points in the final 12 minutes.
Joakim Noah continues to work his way back into shape, putting up season-highs of 13 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists in less than 32 minutes of action. A lot of fans thought Noah's 5.4 assists per game last season were a fluke, predicated on the Bulls not having any options on offense, and that he wouldn't be a factor on offense this season.
Noah has now had back-to-back games of six assists, pushing his season average to 3.8 assists per game. He also found the touch on his jumper tonight, hitting consecutive 18-footers that forced the Pistons to play him honest on defense, opening up the floor and allowing his outstanding passing to be a factor.
Noah and Gasol have only played six games together, they are going to be downright scary as a duo up front once they've been together for 30 or 40 games.
Derrick Rose looked good
It wasn't "the Derrick Rose show" tonight, though it looked like it early as he came out and scored 8 of the Bulls' first 14 points (plus an assist) on a mid-range jumper, a 3, and a layup and one on a nice pass from Noah. He only took three shots in the second quarter, but hit two of them including a three while dishing out four assists.
He then scored his 8 fourth-quarter points in the final seven minutes on a pair of layups, a short jumper in the lane and a pair of free throws. He still isn't the MVP Rose from 2011, but he's slowly getting his feel for the game back, as he made several nice passes tonight and got to the rim almost at will.
Taj Gibson grabbed 4 defensive rebounds
It's pretty sad that I had to make a heading for that, but when a guy who got paid for his defense and rebounding is averaging 3.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, getting four in 24 minutes is pretty good. I guess.
That being said, I still would have liked to see Mirotic on the floor for more than five minutes, as he was active on defense with a steal and a blocked shot in his limited playing time. Obviously, the offense is much better with Niko spreading the floor than with Taj trying to score each and every time he gets the ball in the low post - even when double-teamed - I can't really complain after an 11-point win.