Santa wears red. Perhaps that's why Bulls fans got a parting gift from the officials when they didn't call a travel on Luol Deng at the end of the game when he jumped, clearly landed, and passed the ball away a moment too late.
After getting that lucky break from the officials, Derrick Rose went on to MVP the Lakers, as the Bulls pulled out an incredible comeback win, down 6 with 54 seconds to go.
The Bulls new look offense
Chicago looked to move away from the Derrick Rose run around like a freaking nut for 20 seconds through double and triple teams to try and score offense to a more team oriented offense. Rose didn't control the ball as much, moving it along far more frequently than last year.
In fact, he only took 13 shots on the night, but he knocked down nine of them to score 22 on those 13 shots giving him an incredibly efficient performance. Rose knocked down four of six from beyond the arc, and also knocked down the game winner when he connected on a seven foot push shot over Pau Gasol with around five seconds remaining.
A bucket of ice water has been dumped on the Rip Hamilton train
I'm excited about Hamilton, but in reading things like Sam Smith's column where he proclaims Hamilton the best all around SG the Bulls have had since Jordan, I have to think the love train with him might be getting carried away after one strong preseason game.
Hamilton scored six points on eight shots with three assists, two rebounds, and five fouls. I'll give him a pass on the fouls, at least three of the fine were largely BS touch fouls that normally wouldn't be called and certainly aren't typically called on a guy already in foul trouble.
However, the rest of the night underscored the general fears I've had with Rip. Inefficient offense built around shooting long twos. He did have his share of nice defensive plays, and he still created plenty of pressure on the opposing defense with his movement and threat to score, but the end results were generally ineffectual this afternoon.
Luol Deng came through when it mattered
Deng had a rough game offensively for large portions of this one. He eventually finished 7/19, but was shooting even worse for much of the game. However he scored five of the Bulls final seven points in the last 54 seconds and blocked Kobe's game winning attempt at the end of the game.
For a guy frequently ripped for not showing up in the fourth quarter, Deng certainly delivered big at the end of this game.
I also loved Deng's defense on Kobe the times he was matched up on him. Kobe hit some incredible shots in this game, but the Bulls generally did an outstanding job of forcing him into tough shots.
Solid play by the front court
Carlos Boozer looked very solid offensively on the night. He only scored 15, but he didn't disrupt the offense in the game to do so, and hit over half his shots. Nice work by Carlos. Joakim played a bit better than his stat line, as many of his misses were tips shot that weren't legit shot attempts.
Both players were in foul trouble, but much like Hamilton, they both had a few tough calls go against them.
I liked Asik's defense and rebounding off the bench as well, but Taj didn't have one of his better games.
A quick shout out to CJ
At a point where the game was potentially going to get away from Chicago in the second quarter, CJ came in with the bench mob and really keyed the Bulls offense to bring them back into the game. His second stint wasn't as good, but overall, a nice performance by CJ tonight.
The Bulls defense generally performed at a high level. Kobe went off a bit, but he's Kobe Bryant, so that will happen when he's dialed in. Even though the scored a ton, the Bulls forced him into well defended, tough shots, and plenty of turnovers.
The offense looked improved as well. The overall shooting percentage was low, but the Bulls had plenty of quality looks that they missed. I felt good about the move away from Rose having to do everything on the floor. There are times when the Bulls will need Rose to carry them, but it's best they try not to make it all the time.
The adjustment Rose made to fit into this offense also underscores the trust he has in his teammates and shows [as if there were any doubt] that he's an unselfish player who will shoot as much as his team needs him to, but is also willing to cede shots.
All in all, an impressive way to kick off the season, the Bulls get a road win against one of the toughest teams in the NBA. I was hoping for a more dominant performance from the Bulls, but I'll take road wins against an elite team any day.
Filed under: Game Threads