First, let's not get overly excited about this win. The Detroit Pistons are terrible, and they were beating us by 19 at the half and had a 21 point lead early in the third. Ben Gordon did most of the first half damage with 21 at the half, but finished on the same number and couldn't capture the magic back in the second half.
So ignoring the putrid start, there's nothing quite like coming from behind in a huge deficit to bring out all the emotions of a sports fan, so this game was incredibly fun. Was this the first Derrick Rose MVP chant? It's the first I recall, but he'll get plenty more if he keeps playing this way.
Rose showed off his three point shot, draining 3 of 7 from the field. He made it to the free throw line with 13 attempts on the night as well. He came up big time after time as the Bulls mounted their comeback. He hit a series of crazy layups and drives to the basket, and was simply relentless in his attack on the Pistons. Excusing a little sloppiness with the ball at times, and Rose was playing at an MVP level tonight.
The tipping point of the game, was when James Johnson entered. I was discussing Johnson earlier today with Fred Pfeiffer, of the Chicago Bullseye, and I said Johnson had the best preseason on the team of the bench players, and if Korver, Brewer, and Watson didn't step up that he needed to play.
That's exactly what happened tonight, and Luol Deng, who shot only 2-10 from the field (though was 5-7 from the foul line), was the primary guy who road the pine. Johnson came and immediately earned a trip to the foul line and knocked down two free throws. He made a steal on the next play, ran the floor and made the right decision to pass to Gibson for an assist and dunk.
Johnson took a few really poorly timed shots, and had a couple near turnovers, but he rebounded strongly and harassed the heck out of the Pistons defensively with three blocks, two steals, and played great defense.
Johnson still has a lot of work to do on offense, but his defense is going to earn him minutes, and with time, his offensive skillset will come around.
Joakim Noah was the Bulls other major contributor for the Bulls getting numerous tip ins, and was relentless on the offensive glass. At times where the Bulls struggled, Joakim Noah even scored a couple baskets in a row in the low post for the team. Joakim's now put up games of 18/19 and 17/15 on the season. A nice start to the season for him, and he continues to look like he's worth every penny.
Omer Asik chipped in with some quality minutes. He didn't dominate anyone, but he played decent defense, hit a few gimmie shots when the Pistons tried to leave him alone, and collected a fair amount of rebounds while he was in the game. He also picked up four fouls in just 15 minutes.
C.J. Watson struggled in the first half, but did a nice job running the team in his second half stint.
I'm not sure when Brian Scalabrine picked up the Luol Deng disease, but he did. He takes so many shots with a foot on the three point line. I don't get how a veteran shooter makes that mistake. Scalabrine's stat line wasn't atrocious, but his play was considerably worse than the stat line IMO.
Kyle Korver hit a big three, but was only 1-5 from the field. His presence and motion in the offense still helps when he's out on the floor, but he needs to pick up his shooting to help the team.
Ronnie Brewer still struggles to contribute in a meaningful way.
Overall, this game highlighted that Derrick Rose is awesome. Joakim Noah is darn good, and that the Bulls have a lot of problems still. Through two games, when Rose isn't dominating the offense, the Bulls are struggling to do much of anything.
Thibodeau is running his bench almost like a second line at a hockey game frequently playing five reserves at one time, and the Bulls are getting blown out in those stretches. I think through time, he'll become smoother with his rotation management, and the team needs to figure out what works and doesn't work. In the end, Rose/Noah played 38/39 minutes, but it felt like an eternity when either one was on the bench because things went south so fast.
The problem may not be the rotation as much as there are just not enough options on this team to create offense without Boozer. In the end, the Bulls found a way to win a must win game, even when down by 21. If you ignore the fact that they got down by 21, then there's plenty of positive to take from that.