This game was a tale of two quarters really. The first quarter where the Bulls offense was absolutely atrocious, and the 3rd quarter where the Bulls took a huge chunk of Milwaukee's lead away from them.
All in all, this game was an excellent representation about my fears with the Bulls. The offense is just going to be rough while the defense can be excellent. From the end of the 1st quarter through the 3/4ths of the way through the fourth quarter the Bulls defense was absolutely dominant not allowing anything and contesting everything. However, over that time, the Bulls still struggled considerably for a large portion because the offense was so bad.
The Bulls held the Bucks to sub 40% shooting, and the Bucks only hit four three point shots and five free throws. If you have that kind of defensive performance you should win by 20+ points fairly easily. That's a team that got it's offense smeared.
First, give some props to Luol Deng. For a guy who's basically been burned at the stake by Bulls fans all summer long, Luol has managed to be the best player for the Bulls this season. He's been the best player in three of their four games, and the one he wasn't was a 28 point loss.
Any questions left about Luol's health? Looked pretty strong when he grabbed that offensive board and then threw Bogut it out of the way to score. Deng definitely looks explosive out there, and is playing at a high level.
Derrick Rose had an up and down night. He struggled early, but when the game was close, Derrick came in and hit three shots in close proximity to give the Bulls a comfortable lead. He had a terrible turnover and consecutive plays of bad defense when the Bucks threatened at the end, but Derrick got the big block on Jennings on what should have clinched the game until Noah missed two free throws.
If you aren't giving the game ball to Luol Deng, throw some credit Jannero Pargo's way. I made the comment right before Pargo checked in that it was the perfect time to throw Pargo in the game. It was a game that he could turn around for the Bulls or shoot them out of. The team seemed energized when Pargo entered and hit a three. He missed a three, but go this own board and hit a two a few plays later.
All in all, Pargo had 10 points in 15 minutes on four of five shooting from the field, and he gave the Bulls some offense at a point where they were really struggling to find it. The whole team seemed to come around and feed off his energy when he came in. Pargo might be crap in the next two or three games, but you can add one win to the Bulls season where Pargo was absolutely instrumental in making it happen. When a game looks hopeless, bring in Pargo, and he can shoot you out or shoot you in. Today, he shot the Bulls back in.
Joakim Noah didn't play particularly well early and never got it going offensively, but closing out the game he had a big dunk on a pick and roll, a couple of blocks, and a bunch of boards. If it weren't for the two missed free throws at the end, it would have been a great clutch performance.
John Salmons continued to struggle. He's the anti-Deng this season where he's only had one decent game on the year and struggled in three games. He's now passing up wide open three point looks to dribble into pull up contested shots instead. Salmons looks like his confidence is lacking and needs to shoot his way through it.
Brad Miller had a solid game. He used his slo-mo pump fake to great effect all game long. He was a bit cold from the free throw line, but the team played excellently with him the floor. He used some nice veteran acting to draw some fouls, played solid defense, and had some quality passes as well.
Kirk Hinrich shot the ball horribly, and forced up a number of shots. In all fairness, he most of his forces were at a time when the whole team was playing like crap on offense, and someone had to force the issue. Still his defense helped control the game considerably.
Taj Gibson was more or less a train wreck on the night. He had multiple offensive fouls (though at least one was awfully dicey), and was terrible boxing out and defensively. He contributed little on offense as well, and let's just hope that Tyrus isn't out for a few weeks with swine flu or else there's trouble.
Overall, the Bulls are 2-2 on the season. Out of three tough games to open the season and one "easy" game that didn't end up being too easy, the Bulls are probably a game ahead of where we realistically expected them to be at this point. The defense looks outstanding, the offense looks like it's going to need a whole lot of help.