The Chicago Bulls won their 8th straight game with stifling defense and pulled a half game ahead of Boston. Did you think at the beginning of the season that Chicago would be sitting here with 15 games left to play and have the second highest winning percentage in the NBA? I know I didn't, but that's the type of amazing year the Bulls are having.
I don't want to hear anyone talk about how Derrick Rose can't defend anymore
Ask Deron Williams, one of the elite PGs in the NBA, a guy most teams can't stop, whether Derrick Rose can play defense. Williams shot 1/12 on the night with four turnovers and was stuffed twice by Rose on the night.
Deron must be developing similar nightmares going up against Rose that Hedu Turkoglu has going up against Deng this year. He may have had his two worst games of the season with Rose defending him, and it wasn't Deron just missing open shots.
Offensively, Rose had a night somewhat typical of what he's done lately which involved shooting way too many threes at a low percentage, but he's defending at a high level, still breaking down the defense and creating the offense for the Bulls.
Since February (last 20 games), Rose has shot 25.4% from the three point line while launching 5.7 shots a game. I don't mind the kick outs and the open ones, but he's shooting too many off the dribble threes early in the shot clock. I wonder if the season is starting to wear on him some, and he's trying to pace his energy level.
The Bulls demand so much energy from Rose on offense to fight through three players at a time, that he does need to pick his spots at times, and if he can get reasonable efficiency launching a three without much work it's easy to understand why he does it.
Instead though, I'd rather see the Bulls work the ball in the post and just improve ball movement and lower Rose's shot attempts and take some of the offense away from him. Let him get his breather that way, take away 3 attempts from the three point line per game and leave him only with the open kick outs and desperation threes.
Stacey King may have replaced the Jet as the official nickname guy
Asik and Destroy? That's gold. I'm might need to get some Asik and Destroy T-Shirts printed up. Asik had one of his best games of the season going 5/7 for 11 points and hauling down 16 rebounds in just 24 minutes.
Granted, his points came on dunks/layups/tips, he still can't generate any of his own offense, but if Asik can simply catch and finish, get tips, and quick opportunity baskets
then he becomes very dangerous. His confidence in going up fast and strong seems to ebb and flow, but he had it against New Jersey.
Defensively, Asik has the it factor for sure. I was listening to John Paxson on the radio, and he was describing what rare defensive instincts this kid had. I didn't think they'd translate from Europe to the NBA, but they certainly have. Asik always makes the right rotation, never backs down, gets out on shooters hard when needed and does an excellent job of protecting the paint.
I'm glad the Bulls kept him on, because big man depth is so crucial in this league.
Luol Deng has become very consistent
Deng has found his niche as a third scorer in the NBA. He's back to playing the game he did on 06/07 for Chicago. Hidden in his lower FG% is the fact that he's launching a high volume of threes for the first time in his career. Deng's actually shooting over 50% from inside the arc, and if he were to limit his three point shooting like in 06/07 would have a much higher FG%.
However, by shooting the threes he's helped space the floor, expanded his game, and become just as deadly. He has his second highest TS% and eFG% of his career, but his game fits even better into the team concept with the extra floor spacing he's helping to provide.
Deng's also made tremendous strides in the clutch over the season scoring more in the fourth quarter and hitting a lot of big baskets at the end of games, something he was criticized for not doing in the past.
Joakim Noah isn't scoring like he was but still makes an impact
After coming back from the injury, we all waited to see if Joakim Noah could start scoring 13-14 points a night again, and so far it hasn't happened. Yet, he's still making his impact on offense as the Bulls are running a lot more plays through the center position.
Noah had six dishes on the night, a couple coming in transition where he was out in the open floor with the ball and making the right pass. Not many big men in the league can add his combination of ball handling and passing, especially with the defense and rebounding he can bring too.
If Noah had a solid jumper and a post game, he'd probably be a top 10 player in the NBA with his other skills.
Korver shot well, Gibson played defense
Status quote for those two, but they both did a nice job of doing what they do. Gibson really gave the team a shot in the arm when he first checked in IMO giving the Bulls a couple quick jumpers while they were losing, and the team really never looked back.
I don't think there are any trap games when you're coach by Tom Thibodeau. The guy is too detail oriented to ever overlook anyone. However, as noted in my pregame, New Jersey has had a bizarre stranglehold on the Bulls at times, especially when they play in New Jersey. Even though all the players have changed on both sides, I still have this weird fear of them validated by our earlier loss there.
The Bulls went in, got the win, and continued their high level of play though. You have to feel great about this team defense, and while the offense hasn't been amazing, it's doing enough to get the job done.