How did the Bulls respond to a road game against a decent team without Boozer and Noah?
Luol Deng scored 28 and suffocated Rudy Gay with his defense. Kyle Korver drained six threes to help build the lead and demoralize the Grizzlies every time they had a chance to make a run. Gibson, Asik, and Thomas combined to play truly outstanding interior defense which shut down the paint for the Grizzlies.
Oh, and Derrick Rose had a triple double as well, grabbing the final rebound just before the final buzzer.
Credit the defense first
First and foremost, the Bulls won this game on the defensive end of the court. Gibson threw a block party with six blocks helping the Bulls overcome an apparent lack of talent and depth inside.
The Grizzlies were held to just 37.7% free throw shooting though the Bulls hacked them plenty to keep the percentage that low. The big guns for Memphis couldn't get anything going though as Zach Randolph scored 21 on 26 possessions while Rudy Gay scored 9 on 15 possessions.
Ironically, Bulls trade target, the slumping O.J. Mayo, had perhaps the best night for the Grizzlies shooting 7/14 from the field. However, it was far from enough as the Bulls were never threatened.
It's hard to believe this is Rose's first triple double
He has all the tools to rack up a few triple doubles, but playing with Noah/Boozer probably limits his rebounding chances. Still, you'd have thought he'd have had one by now. The Bulls really needed Rose to step up on the glass this game, and he came through. Without Noah/Boozer, the Bulls guards needed to rebound. Mission accomplished.
Offensively, it wasn't Rose's best game, or even close. He missed a lot of shots and many of his assists were gimmies by just flipping the ball to Korver for a jumper. Still, great effort by Rose to score for the Bulls, distribute the ball, and help on the glass. Even when he's not dominating the point totals, he commands so much attention that everyone else's job is immensely easier.
The open looks for Korver/Deng were a result of the Grizzlies being ready to quadruple team Rose all the time.
Luol Deng played at his best
He knocked down his open jump shots and slashed to the basket over and over taking advantage of the lanes Derrick Rose left for him. He just blew up Rudy Gay on defense as Gay couldn't get anything going at all. He even passed the ball well and helped on the glass.
If Deng could play this well with a healthy roster, the Bulls would be nearly unstoppable. Playing this well today compensated for the Bulls missing out on their
other key players.
Kyle Korver busted out of that slump
22 points and six made threes. Korver's shooting was one of the biggest difference makers in the game. The Bulls got him open looks, and he found his rhythm. Hopefully, he can keep it up going forward, because the Bulls are deadly when Korver shoots this well.
Taj Gibson stepped it up
As mentioned earlier, Gibson blocked shot after shot and contested even more. His interior defense was one of the primary reasons the Bulls were able to win the game, and he scored at a much better clip than he had in recent performances.
Gibson seems to play better with the starters and when he knows he's going to have a big role on the night. Perhaps the uncertainty of his minutes and role when coming off the bench hurt him, but Gibson played like earlier this season when Boozer was out.
Kurt Thomas knocked down his mid range jumper
After struggling to score earlier in his stretch, Kurt Thomas has done an admirable job the past couple games of knocking down the mid range shot when left open. His defense has continued to be solid, especially given his lack of footspeed. If only we could bottle that and give it to Boozer.
Don't look now, but two decent games in a row for Bogans
His totals might not look awesome, but four boards, three assists, and four points in 16 minutes is a solid night for Bogans. We'd actually be content to take that from him most nights and consider it to be a high quality contribution for him.
I still think the Bulls should bench Bogans, but the past couple games he's been contributing rather than killing the Bulls.
The Bulls found a way to get a win without Noah and Boozer which is big for them, especially since it's a road game and an early start. Hopefully the Bulls can keep the momentum going against the Bobcats tomorrow.