After a two point loss to the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday, the Bulls are off to Atlanta to get the season back on track. Forward Luol Deng and guard Derrick Rose had good offensive outings for the Bulls, and pushed the tempo several times against the Nets. Both finished with 27 points, and Rose added a respectable seven rebounds and 10 assists. His best overall effort this season.
Bulls center Joakim Noah struggled on the glass, collecting just nine in over 41 minutes of play. He did add seven points, four assists, two steals and five blocks. The Bulls also made a starting change, inserting Brad Miller at the power forward position over rookie Taj Gibson. Coming off the pine, Gibson responded with 20 points and six rebounds.
Tonight, the Atlanta Hawks awaits. The Hawks share the ball well, and have eight players getting over a quarter of playing time every game. They have also not been injury riddled, as nine of their players have appeared in all twenty games. Guard Joe Johnson leads the Hawks squad with 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists a night. Atlanta acquired former Bull Jamal Crawford over the summer, and Crawford has been a valuable asset so far this season. Crawford is second on the team in scoring (16.1) and is an early candidate to win the 6th man award.
Forward Josh Smith has changed his game this season. The athletic forward has stopped shooting three-pointers, attempting just three in his 20 games so far, compared to his 87 last year. Smith is staying close to the basket which has seen his rebounding and shooting percentages increase, despite playing over three minutes less a game. Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas is often compared to Smith from an athletic perspective.
Joakim Noah will match up against former Florida teammate Al Horford. Both players have found similar roles in the NBA, as defensive-minded centers who can rebound the basketball. Horford has the physical edge on Noah, whereas the Bulls center is more athletic and energetic.
Guard/forward John Salmons, who has taken exactly twelve shots in his last four games, connected on just four against the Nets, and collected 12 points. Salmons has had a rollercoaster of a season so far, having been the most inconsistent Bull on the roster. The 29-year old (who'll be 30 on December 12th) will have to face Johnson and Crawford tonight, which will proove difficult, seing as he's struggled against quicker guards.