Derrick Rose pulls a rookie Ben Gordon to beat Denver

No, Derrick Rose didn't start draining threes like crazy on anyone, but if my math skills are up to par, Derrick was struggling through a 3/16 game through three quarters which likely would have made for one of the worst games of his career if he kept it up.   In particular, he kept launching jumper after jumper early in the shot clock and bricking them all.

However, in the fourth quarter, Derrick Rose came alive and drove the ball over and over, making the Denver defense look silly.   There's a part of me amazed at his ability to take over the game with the drive and a part of me screaming at him for barely attempting this early in the game, especially given he was 1 for 10 on his first 10 jump shots and was the most athletic player on the floor.

What's important though is that Rose delivered in the end.  

Want to know what kind of defender Joakim Noah is?   Watch this game
Joakim Noah was absolutely abused by Nene in the first quarter as the Nuggets let him score at will in isolation over Noah where we've seen that Noah's still not strong enough to deal with the really powerful centers who have isolation skills.  Why Denver didn't really try to get back to this later is beyond me given that he was 3 of 4 on the night with all three of his baskets coming in the first 6 minutes of the game where he also drew a foul and got to the line.  

However, in the fourth quarter, Noah had three blocks and his weak side defense was the key to shutting down the Nuggets offense.   He rotated out on Anthony, Billups, Harrington, anyone who dared come into the lane.  On top of his three blocks in the fourth quarter, he affected many more shots than that with his presence, and personally, I think the box score has him low in the blocks category.

Noah also struggled through a rough game offensively hitting only 4 of his 11 shots and 5 of 8 of his free throws including splitting a pair that could have all but iced the game if he made both.   Still, his energy and defense in the fourth was one of the main reasons the Bulls won the game.   Noah's played so well when he throws up a game like this one that it no longer feels like a great game, but just the status quo. 

Luol Deng struggled with his threes for time this year
I have to say, I was quite annoyed at the guy behind me complaining all game that Deng can't shoot threes where I wanted to stand up and yell, dude, he was 50% from the three point line on a high volume of attempts this year, let's cut the guy some slack!  

However, this game it wasn't working for Deng, and what's most interesting about this is that he missed multiple corner threes which marks the first time I remember him even setting up in the corner.  Deng slogged through the game getting worked over by Anthony at times and generally struggled with his efficiency most of the game missing most of his shots and not taking advantage when at the charity stripe by only knocking down 4/7 including two misses as the Bulls were trying to climb back into the game.

It wasn't his bet game, but he still managed to throw up 17 points, 7 boards, and 3 assists which really is pretty good for a poor outing. 

Taj Gibson kept this one close early 
Taj Gibson just carried the Bulls early on.   He was creating his own shot, he was knocking down open jumpers, and he was really giving the Bulls a lift while Rose struggled.   However, in the second half, the Bulls rarely went Gibson's way as he only hit two shots, and had numerous turnovers.

Another plus, Gibson's defense came alive this game after struggling on that end (relative to last year) for much of the season.   He had five blocks in the game and was a factor all game long in the paint.

After finding his grove early in the season with some open dunks, Taj has gone on to create in the post, knock down jumpers and look like a young Joe Smith / PJ Brown on the court.  He's playing at a really high level right now and has really helped the Bulls mitigate the loss of Carlos Boozer.

While it's a thought for another article, it'd be interesting to assess Gibson's trade value. 

Keith Bogans says not so fast on that starting job thing
When your big three shoot 17 for 50 on the night someone else has to step up, and along with Taj Gibson, we got quite a bit out of Keith Bogans on offense for the first time this season.    Bogans knocked down 4 of 7 shots including 2 of 4 from the three point line and helped the Bulls find some scoring when they weren't getting it anywhere else.

He also played very solid defense and really seemed to settle the Bulls down at times.  They simply looked like a better team while he was on the court, and they did so largely due to his contributions rather than just happenstance.   I'm not going to get overly excited about Bogans throwing up a good game, but it was great to see him find himself out there a bit more.

Ronnie Brewer continues to improve

Brewer has a terrible +/- on the night largely due to a stretch where Carmel Anthony decided to utterly dominate us.  Fortunately, that wasn't at the end of the game.   However, Brewer still made a positive impact on the game and the Bulls are getting more comfortable with him the offense and where he likes the ball.

One thing which still upsets me is there was a play where Brewer had the open baseline and his man sleeping on defense.  He nods at Watson, who doesn't appear to see him, then he points to the basket to indicate he wants to make the baseline cut for the alley oop.   Watson still doesn't see him.   After about a full three seconds (which is a basketball eternity) the play closes down and he no longer has the chance to make the cut.

Brewer's out there ready to do his thing, but the Bulls aren't familiar enough with him to find those plays.   There's been multiple opportunities for us to see an incredible alley oop throw down to Brewer that the Bulls just haven't seen, and they need to figure out how to take advantage of those chances.

Stop bitching about Watson, you're not getting an upgrade

I know I just ragged on him in the last paragraph, but I just don't expect the greatest court vision out of Watson.   If he had Deron Williams court vision then we wouldn't have signed him for $3 million. 

However, Watson has played much better recently.  His ball handling has gotten much tighter as he hasn't turned the ball over in the past two games.  He's making better decisions with the basketball, frequently looking for Korver on the perimeter, but taking his shot when he's open, and his shot is starting to come around.

He'll always be a marked man with fans because the Bulls will always struggle when he's on the court due to the drop off between him and Derrick Rose.  It doesn't help that he typically also plays with vastly inferior talent around him as well.  However, he's making solid decisions and is playing well.  This is what a backup guard in the NBA looks like people, you can't always have the luxury of having your backup be a starting caliber player.

Kyle Korver struggled all game, but knocked down clutch free throws
Korver had numerous open looks in this game that I thought he'd have knocked down for sure, but he just didn't have it going on tonight.  

That said, Matt over at blogabull.com said it best on twitter, what a luxury it is to have Korver at the end of the game to knock down those foul shots.  

I do have to say I was screaming half the game to get the ball to Korver as the Bulls had him wide open on the three point line several times and failed to get him the pass.

Omer Asik struggled to make an impact this game
His numbers were probably similar to what they've been all year, but frequently his front court defense seems to help the Bulls more than the statistical numbers he puts up there.  That really wasn't the case in this game as he looked out of sorts playing against Denver's small lineup. 

James Johnson, Brian Scalabrine, and Kurt Thomas get acting jobs as 'Sir-not-appearing-in-this-film'
I noted last game wrap up that it was likely time to figure out a way to get these guys off the court, and Tom Thibodeau made that happen this game.  The Bulls really struggled with the deep bench guys playing as a unit contributing in a large way to the past two losses.

In this game, Thibodeau didn't go as deep to his bench and did a better job staggering his starters playing time, and the Bulls never found themselves in that huge hole.  The new rotation worked out well, and I'd imagine that the Bulls stick with it. 

Final Thoughts
I complain about the refs a lot, and I was at this game, so I didn't have the benefit of replay, but it sure felt like we had a lot of home cooking in this one.  Especially at the end of the game where we were mauling guys who went into the paint.  Maybe all those blocks were clean, it's hard to say without replay, but it sure didn't feel like that.

The Bulls did get hosed on a couple calls that they threw up on the jumbotron, but they aren't putting up replays where the Bulls got away with one, and if they were, I have a feeling there would have been a lot of replays up there.

All in all, this was the anti-Celtics game.  I thought the Bulls played pretty poorly for most of the game.  Derrick Rose was absolutely scary bad through three quarters and Noah wasn't much of a factor in the first half.  Deng played pretty lousy and Korver couldn't shoot.  Yet, the Bulls managed to scrape by and get a win against a pretty good Denver team.

At 3-3, the Bulls are about where I expected them to be at this point in the season.  They've got a couple weaker opponents coming up at home this week, but then they're going to have to head off on the brutal trip and hope for the best.

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  • Great win considering how poorly Rose and Deng shot. Rose turned it up when it counted. The play at 5:12 in the fourth where Brewer made the backcut out of the double team and Rose found him for the dunk has been there for at least 3 games, nice that Rose finally recognized it. I have a feeling Watson will figure it out eventually, too. But great to see the bulls win against a tough team when they didn't bring their A game.

  • I've got no problem with Rose settling for jumpers early for several reasons
    1) If they're giving him open looks, he needs to take it, & he's proven he can make them. He just needs to make them more consistently. You can paractice shooting all day long, but shooting in a game is different when the lights come on.
    2) The last couple of games he has mainly taken the ball to the hole. While this is his most effective weapon, he needs to shoot as well.
    3) He is smart enough to know when to shoot & when to drive, as evidenced by his 4th quarter take over. If the Bulls would have fallen behind earlier, I'm sure he would have been attacking the basket earlier.

    However, I would like to see Derrick open the game aggressively attacking the front of the rim. It sets the tone & opens up the rest of the floor for his teammates. Similar to football when a team opens up the game throwing deep. It puts pressure on the D early, takes the top off, & opens up the field for everyone else.

  • Noah needs about 7-10 extra pounds of muscle in each of his legs, & another couple in his butt. He seems to be lifting weights pretty hard, but I still don't see the mass he needs in the lower body. If he could only hold his gropund in iso a little better...

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    It's really tough to add noticeable weight in the legs and butt area without basically getting fat. Doing squats and deadlifts help immensely with lower body strength, but you just wont see tangible mass added. I've seen guys with chicken legs go from squatting 200 pounds to 400 pounds and while their legs became immensely stronger, they didn't add much mass, still the same chicken legs. I have no doubt that Noah's legs have gotten much stronger, you just don't see the results size wise.

  • I think once his teammates find the alley-oop with Brewer, there will be no looking back, and we will see it virtually every game. They just need to look for it, b/c its there. They just need to get comfortable with one another.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Agreed, aspects of the game like alley-oops and quick multiple pass ball movement are tough to execute when you don't have much experience as a unit. Look for the Bulls to improve immensely in these as the year goes on with further experience.

  • I agree about Watson, he is starting to come around, & last night I found myself actually cheering for him to shoot.
    He may never have the vision of a starting caliber point, but he too will grow more comfortable with his teammates & system.

  • You know, upcoming to this game there was a lot of Hatfields and McCoys in reagrds to the assertion that Derrick has not been the player he needs to be.

    Sometimes this, "Hey you can't say anything bad about my Derrick/brother" thing just gets ridiculous. It was like when he was playing passively in FIBA play, and anyone who dared comment about it was lambasted.

    This is not eighth grade. If someone respectuflly has a crtique of a guy you like it doesn't mean you have to reply/rebuke every single post.

    It's a fan Blog. Not just for some fans who are intolerant of others. I agree that if someone is just taking personal shots/attacks or pretending to be a poster here, but really a hater from another team then they should get roundly booed/slammed.

    But for fans who root for the Bulls, I mean if we have some problems with Derrick's game, but stated in a moderate, civil, mature manner then some people need to just get a life and just let people have their frickin' say soemtimes jesus.

    Sometimes I write a longer piece sort of columnesque, but it's because I have something to say. If a bunch of people latch onto/respond to that general topic/entre with other criticisms then those are their thoughts not mine.

    Repeating, I don't compare Derrick to Deron Williams or anyone else. I had no criticism of any late game turnovers against Boston or anyone else. Derrick has had mostly wonderful games this season up until recently.

    I suppose we are going to now bag on anyone else who sees Derrick's capitualtion on doubling defenses like Sam Smith. He said the exact same thing(in his post Denver win write up) about Rose submitting too much/not attacking extended doubling with bigs.

    Now Sam Smith I don't agree with everything he says by any means. But the point is some of the views I stated are not irrational, disloyal attacks. There simply negative elements of Derrick's game that people are observing/are out there.

    Do I have a right to say, "Hey, that was a big/marquee game against boston, and Derrick was far too passive against the double. Elite players just don't become so passive especially against a marquee opponent."

    Does a fan not have a right to feel this way? And this is his thrid season which often does set the tone on who you will be and what you can be in this league. If Derrick is still not drawing fouls, and just putting up crazy contortionist shots in the lane which clank am I not allowed to have a problem with that?

    Some of you guys really, I mean come one just take things with a grain of salt if you think someone is less knowlergable or capable then you fo analyzing things then fine, but then if they are so inferior or'misguided' then why be so bothered about a less competent poster's views/what they have to say anyway?

    The Boston game(whether you agree or not) for some fans was huge, and Derrick just had a dissapointing game which also happened to mirror some overall concerns some fans have with his role as the leader of this ballclub. For god's sake just let people have their opinons.

    Personally, I've always supported Derrick, and some of the comments previously about his limitations(or preceived) bothered me. Yet I at least try to let others differ, and not over reply on people as the, "Right the World's Wrongs Comittee."

    It just gets ridiculous with some of you guys sometimes really. maybe if you are posting constantly all day you need to step back, and let someone else have a turn.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Man, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

    This is a blog, and people are going to argue, debate, and have clashing views. I don't think anyone tried to proclaim you don't have the right to say what you said, but for someone to feel strongly and oppose your opinion is neither rude or out of place.

    And as for people's replys referring to other's arguments as if they are yours, such as the D Williams case, I wasn't the one doing so but I believe they were simply trying to answer to both of your opinions in one post.

    I don't have a lack of respect for you RW, and I'm sorry if you've ever felt that I've disrespected you. But when you go on an 8 paragraph tangent, while you may think of it as "columnesque", it's not a column it's a fan's post, it will be subjected to criticism that you won't always find intelligent or well founded. Doug is heavily criticized by posters both fairly and unfairly, and his posts are much more synonymous with the word, column, yet he simply replys, simply rebuttles. He doesn't go on a rant as to why he shouldn't be replied to in such a manner.

    As I said I'm sorry if you've been offended, and next time I'll choose my words more carefully as I respect you as a fan, but lets not get carried away, we are fans so engulfed by the Chicago Bulls that we spend hours peeking over our desktop at the Boss as we give our opinions, which fairly or unfairly, are subject to wide criticism.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I don't know why you felt this was directed at you because it wasn't. But you make some good points. I don't feel my post was an ongoing "tangent," but I appreciate the overall respectful way you replied.

    I just really wish sometimes if people had contrary views they would just state their own post and not always reply/rebutt someone. And I do think when someone chooses to post on here at such a constant rate(I'm not referring to you), and yet always in replys/rebuttals it's just kind of immature period.

    But for the most part the person I was mainly referring to has been one of the best posters we have here. So why they behaved this way without finding any commong ground/so much griping is just a little baffling.

    But anyhow most of the time I enjoy that person's posts and in general most of the posts of the regular contributors. I just didn't see the tolerance/maturity in that discussion as I usually do from certain peoople.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Understood

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    We beat a pretty complete Denver team that has 2 Olympians in Billups and Melo & Nene who plays/ed for Brazil.
    Rose and Deng didn't do great at times, but we put it all together and won at the end and Gibson/Noah had monsterous defensive games with the amount of blocks & shutting down Melo and the Nuggets in the 4th quarter to preserve the win! Very nice to watch!
    Brewer should now start but Bogans had a great games to I could see TT using Brewer for that spark off the bench with his X Utah teamate Korver.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    And please, no more comparisons or allusions to Gordon. If Rose becomes a player that the bulls have to wait around for 3 quarters to show up, they are in a lot of trouble.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    In a way it is good if he is super good in the 4th quarter and the others keep it close in the other 3 quarters. It is kind of a perfect game plan for Rose to be the distributor for the first 3 quarters and be the closer/more of a shooting PG in the 4th quarter when things tighten and get offensively tougher for guys like Deng, Gibson etc..

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Good Win for the Bulls! Hopefully we can win these winnable games [GSW, WAS] this week before the road trip. Glad Brewer is finally getting back to form, hopefully he'll be in the starting lineup when Boozer comes back cause Im sure Boozer will find him on those cuts.

    Non-Bulls related but one guy who im kinda intrigued by is Spurs Pg. Gary Neal. Ive been watching him lately and he's pretty good, I was thinking about maybe the Bulls could snag him around the deadline sorta like how OKC got Eric Maynor last year for a pick.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    1. I really wonder how much of somebody's game is a showcase. Don't FO have tape, stats of any player to analyze to really value a player.
    If Deng had dominated Melo, it wouldn't have meant Deng is a better player than Melo.

    2. The Bulls desperately need a SG who can shoot consistently. It is tough to watch just Rose struggling to get some offense going sometimes.

    3. Rose is still struggling to put together a complete perfect game. I think even if his shot is not going, he needs to be going to the line more often. He needs to also improve a lot on passing skills like the one he had for Brewer.

    4. Noah needs to stop his no-look hook shots. It is a low percentage shot.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Bulls Send Message to Carmelo

    A shorthanded Bulls team defeated a Nuggets team at full strength.

    Everyone was respectful of Carmelo's talents (Bulls players and media), and Carmelo seemed respectful also.

    I wonder if Carmelo found himself wondering what the Bulls would be like with Boozer and himself added to the roster (minus a few players).

    So the Bulls sent a message. Hopefully Carmelo received the message, if ever he wants to win a championship.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Hard to really say that the Nuggets were at full strength, they were missing K-Mart, Birdman, and had Nene constrained by limited minutes. But hey that same Nuggets team was 4-2 as they stood last night, and against solid opponents. So amen it was a great win, sweetened by the whole showcasing factor.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Good point Guru about adding lower body weight! I don't see Noah ever holding his own against Howard, Nene, Bogut, especially Shaq!
    I see Asik having a better chance of filling out and bulking up but Noah has bulked up and he runs the court well and adding bulk while it will help, will hurt his explosiveness because you have to eat big, train big, to get big and fat will be coming with the muscle.
    I powerlift and have seen this over and over again...fat follows muscle and you will lose muscle and strength when you lean out.
    It's usually not easy for 7 footers to bulk up and still play good.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    +2

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    TAJ GIBSON!!!! Great game last night, he really showed up. Hopefully he caught some eyes in the Denver front office.He had a great post game last night and even hit some jumpers. And Dung was solid too. Those are the main 2 players we needed to play well an they did. Throw in a couple draft picks....Bobcats are 1-5 right now i believe and the Bulls....maybe just maybe....could pull off a Melo deal. Keep it up Bulls!

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Rose is primarily an inside-out player. His main strength is getting to the rim and once that is working he supplements with floaters and jumpers. But he is not a jump shooter and does not have a shooter's touch. You can see that touch lacking in his misses, they never sit on the rim with a chance to go in, rather his misses clank and look rather ugly - even with his free throws.

    So when defenses double team and pack the paint (which every team will now do) Rose doesn't have the touch to make defenses pay by draining 20 footers all game. That's not Rose, that's not his game. His jumper is effective when delivered in attack mode (like that 12-14 footer in the 4th quarter - or the elbow jumper), not spot up mode where he takes hasty 20 footers or 3-pointers where he's shooting the same as last year (27%) but with many more attempts.

    Sorry if some people don't want to hear it, but Rose ain't no jump shooter, nor 3pt threat. Not that he should stop working on it, Bulls need him to improve, but Rose needs to be more selective.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Your opinion isn't supported by facts. The stats say Rose is among the leagues best at the long jump shot, he hit for 44% from 16-23 feet, the league leader was at 50%, Rose's 44% is better than players like Deron Williams, and Stephan Curry. Five PGs shot better from this area than Rose last year, but only two of them were starters.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    The stats I referred to are from the 2009-2010 season, forgot to note that.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    By 12-14

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    BIGS and BENCH:

    I said they were the keys to victory and that was PROVEN true.

    The Bulls' BIGS out-played Denver's BIGS and the Bulls' bench balanced out the effort.

    Nice win!!!

    SIDE NOTE: Melo scoring 10 points in the final 1min. and 35secs. of the 3rd was impressive. The array of shots he made in that brief time span really showcased his talents as a DIFFERENCE-MAKER. A DIFFERENCE-MAKER the Bulls just don't have.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I was really disappointed in Rose's play, it's not that he missed the shots, it's that you just can't have your point guard deciding he's the option on the play if that means taking a long two. 10 long twos is just way too many in a game, if Rose is going to get to the efficiency he needs to for him to be a true star he needs to more than halve that number.

    Rose has looked great in stretches this season creating shots for other players but against the Nuggets it was an awful display of exactly what he shouldn't be doing.

    Props to the Bulls for pulling it out though despite Rose's stinker and Deng's shot being pretty badly off (he even clanked some free throws pretty badly, just wasn't his night). Noah is a one man board domination right now, not often a guy pulls down 19 rebounds and you think the box score underestimates his impact in that area, but Noah is just right there on every board even if he's not the guy that grabs it. We've won the boards all 6 games so far with our second best rebounder on the injury list. Once Boozer is back other teams better get their shot right the first time because there aren't going to be many second chances against the Bulls.

  • Good point about the refereeing, this seemed like the first game all year where we were actually even or getting the benefit of the calls.. It feels like the officials have been picking on us, which is so frustrating because it doesn't seem like the Bulls can make any plays sometimes without getting calls. Maybe the Bulls had a talk with the league officiating.

  • Mithcell whether you want to reply to me or not is up to you. You're accusing me of "lashing out" and "thinly veiled attacks"?

    Man, I don't know exactly what you are referring to. I said some people were bombarding me with rebuttals to the point where it was "Simpletonville" i.e intolerant.

    I'm not trying to lash out at anybody. I just see all of the compulsory rebuttals on anything negative about Derrick as a little insecure and over the top.

    I'm sorry if you felt I personally wa slashing out or attacking you or anyone else OK?

    I like replies sometimes/conversations sure it just sometimes I feel people get too polarized and yes overboard with taking sides like children one gang against another. Anyway I think you know what I think of you as a poster. So feel free to reply or not. But Derrick to me is someone who can be an elite scorer winner, and I will continue to point to times when I feel he really falls down not/growing into that role. And I can do this, and still be a Bulls fan, and not have people incessantly telling me I'm overreacting. You just don't see elite guys fall down as far as Derrick does soemtimes, and if he is going to be that guy then there is going to have to come a point where some of these things just dont happen anymore. Like being extremely passive against that punk Garnett's doubles which was just sad to watch.

    It's just funny that people who see Derrick as an elite scorer, and then you would never see a Wade etc. fall that flat abe that submissive to being doubled. It's a legitimate view whether you guys like it or not.

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