They may not have moved up in the standings, but the important thing is that they didn't move down. Miami was playing New Jersey while Toronto took on Minnesota. The Bulls played a Rockets team that was still clinging to hope for the playoffs. Of the three, the Bulls were the only ones who had a real game though it didn't stop Toronto from making it interesting.
Long ago, I said Ariza was a three million dollar player who got the MLE solely because he played on the Lakers and had a nice playoff run. That his niche talents fit well there because he was the 5th-8th most important guy on the team, and the top four were incredibly more important than anyone else.
I then admitted that I was wrong early in the season when Ariza was lighting things up. After seeing this game, it made me go back and take a look at Ariza's season numbers. His 3 point percentage fell to the expected 32%, his PER is down to a career low, and his TS% is sub 50. I officially take back my take back.
We now return you to your regularly blogged Bulls action.
Derrick Rose's three point shooting fell back to Earth with a two for seven performance, but he dominated the game in more or less every other fashion. He even looked impressive defensively which is a great sign for the future as well. Rose looks ready to lead this team back to the playoffs, and the team itself is carrying itself like it believes it will make it. When you hear the interviews it just feels like everyone oozes confidence, that they know they're going to make it.
It was interesting to see the Bulls bring Joakim Noah back into a game they looked like they had put away. It makes me figure management had an exact time in mind of when it woudl play him both times, because I thought for sure they'd leave him out. If there's any relapse from Joakim, Del Negro will escape blame given that he tossed already.
Joakim looked a lot more solid in the first half of his minutes than the second. He looked like the MIP candidate in the first stint while the Rockets forged their comeback attempt while he played in the second in part due to several poor plays by Noah.
Kirk had a nice shooting game, and his 17 points on 9 shots was probably the one straw that really broke Houston. Without his ultra efficient performance on the night, including a huge three at the end, this game is very close or possibly a loss. Not that we should expect Kirk to go 4/4 from behind the three point line again tomorrow, but it's nice to savor it when it happens.
Flip Murray had a rare quality game, but I'll take it.
Jannero Pargo played 15 minutes of shoot me in the head basketball while Acie Law road the pine again. I suppose it's not that big a deal, Acie Law probably isn't that good anyway, and he probably just had a couple lucky games that he couldn't repeat with more opportunities. However, I know Pargo's terrible, and he proves it everytime he touches a basketball. Why can't we play Law and just find out if his good play was a fluke? Could he really do worse than Pargo? Really?
Taj was impressive on the glass and on defense. He's playing with great defensive effort and energy, and the ferocity with which he attacks the glass impresses me after starting the season as such a timid rebounder. Everytime I question whether or not VDN knows what he's doing in terms of personnel decisions, I'll at least have to first grant that I wouldn't have played Gibson nearly so much early after his start, and he wouldn't be nearly so far along today as he is right now.
The Bulls need to continue their roll for their next three games with home games against the Heat and Nets and a road game against Detroit. Given the Bulls position, they really need all three of these wins to make a run at the 8th seed.