Bulls bringing [big] sexy back or Thomas too sexy for Bucks?

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It was about as dead as the United Center has ever been.   The fans couldn't get up for a game against Milwaukee, whom we widely expected to beat down.   That is, until Kurt 'Big Sexy' Thomas started unloading on Milwaukee.

Right around 12-14 points, the fans started going nuts for Thomas.  Everytime Thomas scored the crowd erupted.   He got a huge round of applause whenever he left or entered the game the rest of the night.

Derrick Rose dominated the game

Rose continues to shoot poorly due to the immense defensive pressure he faces every game, however he moved the ball well creating tons upon tons of open shots for his teammates, and at least Kurt Thomas knocked them down.

He's also found a way to consistently get to the foul line, something he's struggled with earlier in his career.   Rose managed 21 points on only 16 shots while shooting only 5/16 for the game.  

That's the sign of a star player, when he's able to get the free throws when his shot isn't falling and create for others.    Rose played great defense again throughout the game.

One thing the Bulls didn't do with Rose was really try to push him to post up Earl Boykins.   The Bulls went to it a few times, but seemed to decide it wasn't worth the effort.

Kurt Thomas basically won the game for the Bulls

No one else was knocking down the open looks Derrick Rose created, but Kurt Thomas came through.  While his plays were all based off of being left wide open due to coverage on Rose, he converted.  He knocked down 10 of 16 shots and has 5 assists when teams rushed up to defend him and left someone else open.

The Bucks dared Kurt Thomas to beat them, and he annihilated him.  Thomas continues to amaze me with his play.  

Where in the world was Carlos Boozer?

Everything you expected out of Boozer was done by Kurt Thomas.   Boozer padded his stats at times in the game where it wasn't really close, and he seemed to not have a prayer at defending Ilyasova except to just hope that he missed.

It wasn't a great game for Boozer to say the least, but they didn't run that many plays for him or have much success when they did.

Luol Deng missing in action

Luol Deng built an addition on to his house from the three point line last night.  He was left wide open repeatedly, Derrick Rose got him the ball repeatedly, the shot missed repeatedly.  

He was 1 for 5 on the night from behind the arc and passed up numerous open three point looks due to shooting poorly.

On top of that, when tasked to defend Chris Douglas Roberts, he got eaten alive (though same was true of Brewer).

Keith Bogans is back

Nevermind that stretch of good shooting.  He also bricked two three pointers when no one else was in his zip code.  He had enough time to heat up some microwave popcorn and eat it before the defense got out on him and still missed both corner threes.

I'll give Bogans some credit though, he chased down Andrew Bogut on a breakaway and had a clean strip of the ball as he was going up for a dunk.  It was a tremendous defensive play, so he had that going for him.

Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver added to the brick fest

They combined for 4 for 17.   Korver did knock down two threes and Brewer had an open dunk, but these guys also missed a crapload of shots.   The Bulls went back to trying to use Korver like Rip Hamilton again after going away from that for awhile, and he missed every shot he took in that running off a screen role.

C.J. Watson quietly contributed big again

Another 3/7 game with two threes made and eight points.  Watson gave us scoring in a game we struggled to score.  He moved the ball really well, and he was probably the key reason we took the lead in the second quarter where he played excellently.

After Waton's nice second quarter, the game was never in doubt the rest of the way.  It wasn't an explosive box score, but it was another quality performance by Watson who has settled into his role really nicely recently.

Taj Gibson found his grove a bit

He didn't play that many minutes, but he was good in all phases while in the game.  He did a nice job on the glass, was big on help defense, and hit three of his five shots.   One of his misses was a possession where he got the ball in the post late in the shot clock and had to shoot a really terrible look or risk a 24 second violation as well.

Hopefully Gibson can keep the momentum going.

Final thoughts

The team has three days off before facing Orlando, and it looks like they'll need them to get the offense back together.  No one is hitting shots recently, as the Bulls are playing fairly atrocious offense.

Their defense has been tremendous though.  They hold basically every team to considerably worse offensive efficiency than their average.  They protect the hoop, do a good job of avoiding too many fouls, and have improved on closing out on three point shooters.

The Bulls needed this one due to the schedule getting really tough soon, so it's nice that they picked up the W.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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  • Very tough watching this game!
    My friend is a Bucks fans and he said he wasn't watching it because he expected the Bulls to kill the Bucks which they didn't, the Bulls just don't jump on any team and play to the poor teams level and make it a close game...very uncharacteristic of a good team to do...you beat the bad teams early and by a lot.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Yeah this type of win has become the Bulls trade mark in a lot of games this year. They can't win decisively and having Noah back will not help the teams poor scoring. Teams are keying in on Rose which will not make things any easier. The Bulls kinda remind me of the Bears, all defense and no offense but a win is a win i guess.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Actually, though it defies logic, the numbers indicate that the Bulls have been better on defense on much worse on offense without Noah.

    Doesn't make sense, but that is what the numbers say, maybe all those offensive rebounds and put backs make a lot of difference.

    By the way, according to Hollingers rankings the Bulls are now #1 in defensive efficiency, but nearly 2 points per 100 posessions.

  • In reply to smiley:

    with bulls being the best defensive team right now in the nba. Thibs must focalize more in Offense, he should start watson or korver to improve bulls FG%.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Focalize? Really?

  • In reply to smiley:

    Rose tweaked his back. You could see him wince when he landed on early fast break layup Saturday night. The minutes are catching up. I assume Deng is similarly dinged up.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I wouldn't say its the minutes, more like his style

  • I remember Korver did hit one shot off a screen. It was I think the first play after CJ subbed for Derrick, and off a pass from CJ from the very top.

  • Remember the December 18th Clippers game when with 0.8 sec remaining Rose missed his second FT and Bulls lost 100-99?

    At that time I wondered if Rose would use that failure as motivation to become an 80+% FT shooter which he seemed capable of.

    Since Dec 18th Rose is 129-149 = 86.5%. An excellent improvement for a career mid-70s FT shooter! With last night's 10-10 he's now at 82% for the year.

    I'd like to see Rose's new found focus on FT's rub off on Boozer, Deng, and the rest of the Bulls. I wonder if the others are committed to improving their FT's.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Wow, great observation. It certainly has seemed like he's been nearly automatic from the line lately

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I think what is so impressive is Rose's ability to improve the weak areas of his game. Such as 3pt shooting, defense, and now his FT shooting. It is truly rare for players to develop their games and improve their weaknesses - certainly to the extent Rose has.

  • In reply to Edward:

    and how quickly he has done it. Also, usually you don't see players making such great strides during the season as much, usually done over the summer. Rose has shown he can improve during both times.

  • This was a good win and Thomas performance was excellent for the team spirit. It was the kind of effort that puts everyone in a good mood and teambuilds the players.
    Now 3 days for a rest - Rose has time to heal the back pain, and to go fresh for another D-Howard "oh i did not want to hurt him" dirty move...

  • May be true, but they were also without Salmons,Gooden, Jennings... They are better than their record, but we should have won this game much easier...

  • Rose on Kurt Thomas, Gracious Remark

    ""I'm mad that he's not a little bit younger," Rose said. "I could play with him a little bit more. But I'm just going to cherish these times I'm playing with him."

    This is was an incredibly gracious quotation from Rose. Very classy indeed.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Thomas could almost be his father.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    Pretty much. I know he is the 2nd oldest player in the NBA, who is first? Shaq I would guess.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Great teammate that Rose is. I'm sure he likes having someone hit those wide open looks he creates too.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    in other words I thought the article was great merely b/c of the subject matter

  • Their team defense also is also indicative of good chemistry.
    A lot of teams have been hurt this year; including Boston and Miami.
    I think what distinguishes the Bulls is that they have improved despite the injuries.
    One has to believe that the Bulls will be acquiring another 2 guard in the next 30 days. Every well connected reporter has discussed it.
    The key for Bulls management is adding a scoring guard while giving up as little as possible.
    They can't afford to gut this team and jeopardize the success, the chemistry, and the team defense they've worked hard to create.
    They need to add a player without giving up anyone, well perhaps Bogans or JJ.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    And speaking of team chemistry - Sam Smith on his latest: http://blogs.bulls.com/2011/01/bulls-getting-an-a-in-chemistry/

  • Good choices.
    As Shakes said last night, it appears that everyone's waiting for Anthony to get moved, then the other trades and buyouts will come.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    I would hope Melo gets moved sooner rather than laterfor those reasons.

    I like your list too Mitch. I'd throw Mayo in there at 4, still a little skeptical of him, but under the right atmosphere, he could be perfect. I think Thibs, Rose, Boozer, Noah, & Kirk Thomas could bring out the bast in him with their team first attitude & leadership. That's what's great about having a good chemistry team like we do. You can add a questionable guy and the team can kind of absorb him into themselves.

    As far as Melo, I really think a rental is going to happen, with him signing in New York this summer. I call Dallas. Heard some saying Houston has a good shot.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I think Mayo is a pipe dream, obviously he has the most talent but whether he wants to play for a big contract vs being a role player is a bit of a worry to me. He's also not produced anywhere near the level his reputation suggests thus far in the NBA.

    If you could get him cheaply then yes but that's not going to happen so it's an awfully big risk. But IF he bought in and IF he re-signed for a reasonable contract and IF he lived up to his potential then he's the guy for the job. I just think that's pretty unlikely.

  • Charles Barkley could be a poster here...today on "The Waddle & Silvy Show"
    "Derrick Rose has passed (Utah's) Deron Williams as the best point guard in the NBA, and right now he's got to be the front-runner for MVP. He's been fantastic."
    *"When you look at the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls are the most dangerous team if they get everybody healthy. ... They can be flat-out scary."
    *"Derrick Rose has been a tremendous leader. The coach (Tom Thibodeau) has done a fantastic job, too -- he's probably the front-runner for Coach of the Year -- but Derrick Rose's leadership ... they play hard every night. I just hope they don't wear Derrick Rose down."
    *"If they can get (Denver's Carmelo Anthony) and not give up Rose and Noah, I'd do that in a heartbeat. ... If you could get Carmelo to go with Derrick Rose, and Noah, and (Carlos) Boozer, I'd love your team for the next 10 years."
    *"(Thibodeau) has done a great job ... he holds them accountable. He's benched some of his best players because they weren't playing well or they weren't playing great defense. That's one reason a lot of teams in the NBA struggle: Coaches ain't coaching their teams. They're intimidated by their players. You've got to coach your players, because the coach gets fired if they don't do their job. "

  • In reply to Waldock:

    He's been high on the Bulls for a while.

  • In reply to TimS:

    yea, but the Melo and Thibs comments are new tho

  • I agree...The Bulls are a global team and as long as the point is conveyed during a comment, that's enough. There is no point in nitpicking in somebody's English on a basketball blog. Plus, this blog doesn't have an edit or review...

    I think the Bulls are spending so much energy on defense with all these games that they did not have the legs for offense. I know they are young but the other teams are not NBA teams too..

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    exactly, spelling & grammar don't count here. As long as people understand what you are talking about

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    He types english better than most people I know. I just thought it was funny that he made up a word is all. Everyone take a deep breath, and at the count of three, take yourself less seriously. This is, after all, a basketball blog.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    sorry, I've got no sense of humor today, now I get it.

    Kind of like a George Bushism

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    My favorite: 'Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?'

  • absolutely, only for the right price.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    and you're right, what he would cost would be a huge factor with the new CBA & likely hard cap

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Honestly, Memphis is not going to give Mayo easily after their experience with Pau Gasol. They will probably let go of Randolph who is 5/6 years older than all of them. They will let them grow and probably will resign Mayo with the new CBA where it might cost them less.

  • Great article, and none of it surprised me.
    Bulls fans are very fortunate to be witnessing this combination of character & talent.

  • also he said something the other day, I think a lot of people were criticizing him a bit too much, especially for grammar, and I don't think they were joking. I was referring more to that.

    Focalize is definately a sweet word

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    You guys should not nitpick on others bad english - Bulls is one the teams with more international support, including me. Sometimes we make some spelling mistakes, most important is to bring something to the debate, and show all our love for the Bulls.
    This blog is an awesome place to read opinions abt the Bulls, and the commentators (you guys) have a high basketball IQ. Word.

  • Bulls rise one spot in SI's power ranking, climbing to #4
    Also jumped 1 spot to #3 on ESPN's Mark Stein's list

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    also now just 3 back for the #1 spot
    but a tough month & 1/2 up ahead
    just have to stay in the race & make a run during the last 4 weeks (17 games largely vs poor teams). Have to stay healthy & work out the kinks heading down the stretch

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I was just reading that Brandon Rush could be on the trading block!! We could really use him!

    He averages 11 points in 29.7 minutes not too bad!! The one problem i thought of is that Utah also has a gaping hole at the SG spot and if it came down to us and the Jazz I'm sure they would be more willing to help the Jazz become better...

    The same could be said for all other teams in the east..... Utah might take whatever shooting guard we are trying to get

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Rush is not a bad shooter, either. I like the fit, but how?

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    Im not sure I just found this story...

    http://dimemag.com/2011/01/nba-trade-rumors-indianas-backcourt-is-available/

    I'd give JJ and our first round pick...

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=38zwl63

    I'm not sure how much they want for him though..

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Rush is another one of those guys who is an upgrade over Bogans, but I don't know if he's an upgrade over just not playing Bogans ...

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I dunno his 3pt percentage is slightly better than Korvers and is a better defender than korver...

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Like most players who have better percentages than Korver it's mostly because Korver takes harder shots. Nobody (other than the Cavs who are terrible) ever plays off Korver for even a second when he's on the court.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Boston's got 2 road trips upcomming, and after this weekend, we don't have a back to back until Feb 24. We also have another 3 day stretch of off days, 3 2days, 3 1days, and the 5 day all-star break. A good chance to rest up, get Noah back, get healthy, & make a run for that top spot.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    looking ahead to march, the Bulls have a brutal 5 games in 7 nights stretch, featuring Miami on the road, a 2nd of back2back against New Orleans, a Charlotte team that has given us trouble, on the road, Atlanta, and Utah as the final game & 2nd of B2B. Crap that's a tough stretch.

    Then it eases up the last 5 weeks, playing only 4/17 teams with winning records.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    With Noah back, I like our chances to come out of that stretch ok, but definitely not unscathed.

  • I'm going to agree with you again here Mitch. I don't know why Rick Reilly rubs me the wrong way. I used to be entertained by his bookend op-ed in the back of sports illustrated, but his departure and then union with ESPN coincides with my dislike for him. Not sure if he changed or I started realizing I didn't like his columns. I've read two of his books and they are rather good. Just hate him with ESPN for some reason. Glad to hear that stuff about Rose, I hate athletes big-timing people.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    he's a cornball, very cheesy

    I haven't liked him since the early 90's when he said the Bulls would just be another mediocre team without Jordan

  • Speaking of CDR, do we need anymore proof that Deng is not, never was, and never will be a shooting guard, because he can't guard them.

    Don't they always say, that when you get to the NBA, you are the position that you can guard.

    As I have said forever, Deng is barely athletic enough to play small forward, never mind shooting guard. He is getting closer and closer to a 3-4 tweener, not a 2-3.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I bet Deng could guard the Bulls' starting 2. (And yes, that tongue-in-cheek comment just proves again how Keith Bogans has become the exception to all conventional NBA wisdom. In that respect he's truly having an exceptional season!)

  • In reply to BigWay:

    The Deng can play some SG stuff was never realistic. Deng has always been a 3-4 tweener, he's never played significant minutes at the 2 and has at the 4 for years. He also played the 4 in college. I know that college ball is different, but there are very few college 4s that become 2s in the pros (Landry Fields a notable recent exception).

    That said I don't think CDR proves it since he spends more time at the 3 than the 2, and he's had about 3-4 big nights this year and everything else has been single digits. He's just one of those guys who occasionally can't miss no matter who guards him but is invisible most games.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I don't think there was ever a point where I would have viewed Deng as closer to a 2/3 than a 3/4. He played PF at Duke and is closer in size to a PF.

  • i don't know what should i say. but all i wanted to say is that thibs must care about offense now given the fact bulls are already a very good defensive team.

  • i don't know what should i say. but all i wanted to say is that thibs must care about offense now given the fact bulls are already a very good defensive team.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I agree, and I think he is going to use both of the teams 3 day off periods to address offense

  • Yeah Wiggins, I'm from congo(republic of congo, not DRC). I am bulls fans since I was 14 (2004). I speak french, English is a tongue that I'm learning. I live in canada( Quebec, french canada) since 2009. I write in this blog because i like bulls and it also helps me to improve my english.
    It good to know that my grammar erros don't bother you at all. U're kind guys !!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    nice to know we have Bulls fans accross the world!

  • Hi Wiggins,Chiry and schaumburgfan ! Yes, I'm from congo(republic of congo, not DRC). I am a bulls fan since I was 14 (2004). I speak french, English is a tongue that I'm learning. I live in canada (Quebec, french canada) since 2009. I write in this blog because i like bulls and it also helps me to improve my english.
    It good to know that my grammar errors don't bother you at all. U're kind guys !! Bulls 4ever !!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Deewaves, I didn't know you were from Congo, sorry if I ever belittled your use of the english language in the past. I was wrong to have assumed you were from the US. Now that doesn't change the fact that you've got it all wrong about Noah being "just a role player"..lol.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    no problem with that man. lol but me too, i don't change my mind, I still want Melo for Noah, loool

  • In reply to deewaves:

    The problem you have to understand is not only trading Noah is a big issue on defense during the playoffs which we will never recover but it is not financially possible. Noah makes way too less money now. So, you need to trade other big pieces(Deng, etc..)..So you will end up basically diluting the depth of a good team. You are trading Noah like a James Johnson essentially(in terms of money)...2 years from now, you can probably trade him for Howard.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I knew that we need to add Deng to get the deal done.

    As I said, right now the bulls is the best defensive team of the nba (1st in opponents FG% and 3rd in opponents ppg). go on

    http://www.nba.com/statistics/sortable_team_statistics/sortable1.html#top

    if u look well, u notice that miami and boston are also ranked in the top 5 in defense.

    But when it's about offense, Miami and boston sitll in the top 5 whereas chicago's offense is 13th. Do u see the difference ? It shows that in playoffs we could defends as well as miami and boston but can we score as them ? Once Rose gonna get double-teamed and boozer off, can we count on the inconstant Deng ? on shoothing guard who can't shoot(brewer and bogans) or taj gibson who always goes 1/7 ? Do u see what i mean ? we need another dangerous player(Melo) to really bother Heat and celtics.

    Actually, our befensive is good without noah ! of course it gonna get better once he's back, but we need more offense than D. So I'll trade noah+deng for Melo.
    As said, loosing noah won't hurt too much our D because it'S already great without him. loosing deng for melo will upgrade SF so far. People says that Melo can't defend, i don't agree. Watch melo game, he isn't passive on D, he is a tough guy, he plays hard. So why would'nt he defend with a team where D is everything ?

    And look further than this season, even if we will miss noah this playoffs. But he is more replaceable than Melo. Noah is chicago soul but we can find a rookie or D-leager tall center just for rebound and D. But finding a superstar SF isn't that easy.

    If we keep this team, bulls will just be a good team which win more than loose but never reachs finals becuz miami gonna beat us the next years. And another thing, we have hard-time beating NY, imagine them with melo. lets not let it happen. Catch MELO !!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    As Celtics & Lakers can tell you - the difference maker to reach the final goal is a huge frontcourt. The Bulls cannot trade Noah - actually i think what will make difference going forward next year is getting a huge backup center, which is not easy to get... SG or SF are the most easy position to get. (Good) Centers - not really.

  • "strategery" is an all time classic

  • Milwaukee remind me of Skiles Bulls teams, but without a Ben Gordon who can actually get you some points reasonably consistently. I'd say their current record is a pretty fair reflection of that. That said you're right, it's hard to blow out a Skiles team because they will try hard on D even if they can't throw the ball in the ocean.

  • Afflalo is the one I'm sold on because he can slip right into Bogans role and just do everything Bogans does but 1000 times better. Have to wait on a Melo trade to see if he becomes available though.

    Lee I don't think the Rockets will give up, they're still borderline in the playoff picture. If you could get him or Parker cheap then do it but I don't think they're huge upgrades over just not playing Bogans, so I'd want to check Thibs would actually play them instead of Bogans first.

  • Call me crazy but I think ESPN is trying to get back on Chicago's good side today after the Cutler bashing. Hollinger had to of had his wrist turned in order to acknowledge the Bulls.

  • The only way the Bulls are getting a decent SG and maintaining the team's core is after a buyout. If we are going to trade - and Taj Gibson will always be a part of any tarde - it blows our depth... so i do not except much upgrade from Brewer/Bogans. If Anthony Parker comes open, i'll take him...

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