If they were worth more, the Clippers might be the best team in the NBA. Unfortunately for them, they aren't. The Bulls went down by seven in the first 1:30, but were + 20 for the other 46:30.
It wasn't a straight up domination, after the start, but the Bulls slowly chipped away at the lead until they ended the first period by one.
They finished the half up five, the third up six and the game up 13.
Blake Griffin's explosiveness is simply unbelievable. The Bulls had little answer to keeping him out of the lane. Dunk city. However, outside of the dunk, Griffin showed fairly little else. He had a couple of nice post moves for scores, but for the most part as soon as he tried anything other than an open shot at the rim, it resulted in a miss.
Chris Paul tried to his best to finally win a matchup against Rose, but ultimately failed miserably. His passing was a thing of beauty, the misdirection, the court vision, incredible. Unfortunately for Paul, he can't create his own offense even remotely on the same level as Rose.
He had opportunities on switches to up against Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson one on one and passed out of them rather than forcing the issue which shows a tremendous lack of confidence in his own ability that he's not taking a big man off the dribble when he has one in isolation.
As for the Bulls, they sliced through the Clippers defense like a hot knife through butter. It's simply extraordinary how a team with so much athleticism can perform so poorly defensively, that is, until you realize who the coach is.
Derrick Rose goes into MVP mode
I noted in the pregame that Rose always brings something special for Chris Paul. Does the routine talk of Chris Paul as the best PG in the NBA piss off Rose? Does he simply play his best against the best? I don't know.
I do know Derrick dominates the hell out of Paul every time they match up.
Derrick Rose could not be stopped. He cut through the lane, drew fouls, found the open man; in short, he went into MVP mode for the first time this season. If the NBA forgot Derrick could play after three games of so-so stats, then here's the league wake up call.
Joakim Noah had his hands full, but had plenty of positive signs
Bulls fans have been frustrated this season with Noah's play so far, and Griffin managed to abuse Noah several times this game as the two were frequently matched up. However, he did some damage on the offensive end himself, aggressively drawing fouls in the paint, knocking down a jumper, and finishing at the hoop.
Noah's shooting his jumper with tremendous confidence. His release looks smooth, his shots are in and out when they miss, and there's no hesitation. I love how this projects going forward and hope he keeps it up even if he's not having immediate success.
Overall, we'd like to see a bit better defense out of Noah, but it's worth remembering Noah's defensive strength is not playing big men one on one it's the help he provides on guards. That didn't work out so well against Blake Griffin, but it's something the Bulls desperately need against Miami.
Luol Deng continues his stellar play, but where's the three?
Deng's shooting 21.4% from the three point line this season (3/14) and was 1/4 again tonight. His three ball simply doesn't look good so far this year, and it's at least a mild concern.
However, Deng scored tremendously efficiency overall, scoring 19 points on 14 shots. He played well on the glass, and he moved the ball well. Deng's really performing at a high level out there this season.
I'm a bit concerned that he played 40+ minutes again, and I think Thibodeau needs to start thinking more long term with the way he's running the minutes with this squad.
Rip Hamilton and Carlos Boozer: Threats with pedestrian efficiency
So Hamilton is 3rd on the Bulls at shot (53 vs 58 for Rose and 57 for Deng). However he's 8th in TS% at 44.9% (Carlos Boozer at 50.4% is 7th, so it's actually a tremendous drop off from Hamilton to pretty much anyone else on the team).
Hamilton is only 1/6 from the three point line so far, and he's been missing plenty of wide open 12-18 foot jumpers. He's still scoring in bunches and had another play in this game where he snuck behind the defense for an easy hoop, but overall the Bulls are shifting a lot of offense to Hamilton and getting really lousy efficiency out of it.
The hope is that Hamilton as a threat opens things up for everyone else, and maybe that's true. His fit into the roster is seamless and the offense looks very smooth when he's moving the ball around.
I do think there's something to the idea that Hamilton makes improvements that don't show up in the box score, but I'm still hesitant about adding a high volume low efficiency player to the roster.
Carlos Boozer, on the other hand, has played at pedestrian efficiency as well. Despite 50% shooting from the field, his efficiency is down due to lack of free throws and turnovers. His scoring volume is way down so far as he's sitting a shade under 12 points per game.
Combine this somewhat mediocre offensive performance with the amount of work spent each night covering up for him on defense, and Boozer continues to be somewhat of a disappointment.
Like Hamilton, when Boozer has it going on, he adds a significant threat to the offense that has to be accounted for. Leaving Boozer for a moment will result in a quality look for the offense, so he adds pressure to the defense.
He has done a nice job on the glass this year as always, and he does look like he really committed to getting in tremendous shape this off-season, but despite the improved physique, he still isn't playing with much lift or athleticism.
Both players frustrate me, but I think both players are helping the team despite numbers that don't always support that.
Ronnie Brewer continues his excellent play
Get this boy some more minutes and see if it continues. Brewer is shooting nearly 70% from the field, and he's been unbelievable with his jumper this year. He's 3/3 from beyond the arc, and he's knocked down his mid range shot, even off the dribble, with consistency as well.
Brewer provides far more defense than Hamilton, and so far, he's provided plenty of scoring punch. There is a bit of awkwardness to his offensive game, and he doesn't fit seamlessly into things like Hamilton does, but he's producing at a high level and given the extra defense, he deserves to play a lot more than his 16-17 minutes a night to Rip's 31-32.
Kyle Korver's bringing the hot sauce
2/3 from beyond the arc, quality basketball decisions, and sound fundamental [if unathletic] defense out of Korver. He's playing with high efficiency so far this year.
When does the United Center market a Kyle Korver hot sauce in the stands? Has to be soon right?
The Bulls finished a west coast road trip 3-1 with wins against the Lakers and Clippers. I'll take it. The Golden State game was somewhat disappointing, and the Bulls didn't play particularly well against Sacramento or the Lakers, but in the end, they got the job done.
Like everyone else, they're working through their lack of practice and while they've only added one piece to the roster, that piece is third in the league in shot attempts, so it has been a considerable change in terms of how they generate their offense.
After watching at least one or two games of every good Eastern conference team and most of the West, I've come to the conclusion that the only teams that have a shot at beating the Bulls in a seven game series are OKC and Miami. I'll still take Miami as favorites over us, I'd call the Thunder a push.
Bulls easily beat anyone else.