This just in, a dunk really is only worth two points

This just in, a dunk really is only worth two points

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?

Final thoughts

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.

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  • Him I really liked the Rose and Hot Sauce connection last night. I would love for them to connect more often. Really I kinda like the Rose, Rip,Korver, Deng, Noah lineup now and then.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    Yes that's a potent line up and Deng is tall enough and now tough enough to play the 4 against most teams. Then add Taj instead of Noah and suddenly everyone has at least a nice jumpshot.

  • A good win by the Bulls and I agree as well that the only team in the east that's able to beat the Bulls is Miami.Bulls management shouldn't settle for second best in the east. They should do whatever it takes to derail Miami's second trip in as many years to the finals. Barring any injuries management need to address the Bulls weaknesses, and we all know what and who that is besides trying to become more of an athletic team. Bulls have assets to put in any trade scenario to upgrade the roster to try to put them in a situation to beat Miami in a 7 game series. Reinsdorf need to stick to his statement about paying the luxury tax to compete for and win another championship. His team is as close to being a true contender as it's been in over a decade, why not go for it now. But we all know that's wishful thinking and he will more than likely leave the team as is and get beat by a more determined and athletically superior team in the Heat when they both reach the Eastern Conference Finals again. Until the Bulls management start to think outside of the box and get more creative in making trades they will be second best in the east for some years to come.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    And forgot to mention Noah's performance, these are the type of games he can have every night if he don't have to help out on defense for Boozer. I hope the Bulls brass see this as well with their franchise center and address this problem.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    You are correct, Noah is essentially guarding 3 guys, his own, Boozers and whoever penetrates off the dribble as Noah is the primary help defender. Unfortunately, playing with Boozer, their is no one to help(Boozer) the helper(Noah).

    Other than injury the biggest threat to Noah's game/season is being forced to carry Boozer, who last night was as close to useless as anyone not named Eddy Curry can be.

    Can we just trade Boozer for DeAndre Jordan, please..

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I agree the Bulls need more than they have most likely to get past Miami. I'm not sure what moves are realistically available to them though.

    I think more so than anything else they need to upgrade Boozer, but I don't see anyone available that the Bulls could get, nor do I see what they could get that person for.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The only realistic "whatever it takes" way to derail Miami will end up with GarPax in prison.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    UMMM, you're only half way right sir cause Reinsdorf still has to approve any trade that "MANAGEMENT" comes up with...GarPax does not own the team, THANK U...

  • In reply to Reese1:

    ???

    Not sure what you're getting at ... I was implying the most realistic way of derailing Miami was to grab a metal bar and go all Nancy Kerrigan on them.

  • Great performance by the Bulls. Off-course, we can nitpick on Boozer/Rip or Noah. But, in general everybody contributed even though they had their bad moments in the game except for CJ Watson. Thibs tied him to the bench until the last minute after his shoot first minutes. He needs to be either a penetrating guard to score like Rose or a pass first guard and not be a jump-shooting PG.
    Blake Griffin will not be so tough in a playoff game because they somebody like Thibs will game plan to stop him. Thibs didn't have enough time with a back-to-back.
    I liked the Korver/Rip combo playing for extended minutes. That would be a great combo to establish going forward.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Schaumburg: What's your impression of CJ Watson's play in the second unit? I believe that we've taken a west coast scoring PG + forced his skill set into a half court style of the bench mob. We'd be better served to locate a higher iq veteran to manage the 2nd unit offense. Would you support the bulls trading Watson this season? Thoughts, C

  • In reply to cgiebelh:

    I don't see who you can get that fits these criteria:
    1: Better than Watson
    2: Will sign for the LLE or Vet Min
    3: Will be content to play no more than 10 minutes a night

  • Great win bulls !! Who will say again CP3 is better than D-Rose ?

    That game shows that Rose has more impact in a game than CP3.

    I think Thibs must get Boozer more involved in the offense. It looks like he is the 3rd option behind Hamilton and Deng. Let's give Boozer a chance to redeem himself. Thibs should create system for him in order to make him regain his confidence.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Give a couple days and everyone on ESPN will talk about how Chris Paul is still the best PG in the NBA.

  • I hate watching rip hamilton set up his jumper. He misses wide open jumpers at a disappointing rate.

    I love rip going to the basket, and I like him on the fast break. I hate the idea of him shooting.

    I know the bulls management won't consider the idea of signing JR Smith, but it would be a worthwhile idea. Imagine if brewer could continue his unbelievable play( i'm using that word, because I have my doubts.). Brewer's awkward offense could play with the starters. Let CJ and JR be the bench mob. Tell rip to take a hike. ship him off do whatever you want with him.

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    Rip is a midrange jumper monster. That's his strength. He will come good. Jumper is the last thing that goes as players age.

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    I like getting Smith too, but I agree that the Bulls won't pursue him. They'd need to jettison someone to make room for him.

  • Doug: Great article, you've adeptly synthesized the bulls early season play. I could especially appreciate:

    Rip Hamilton and Carlos Boozer: Threats with pedestrian efficiency

    According to our friend sam smith, NBA teams will usually be in evaluation mode in the first quarter of the season. The bulls will be developing a 16-20 game strategy with the existing squad. In watching the clippers game, Thibs has made several crucial adjustments:

    1) Taj Gibson is seeing the floor during crucial periods of game...eg 4th quarter
    2) Ronnie Brewer has played productive minutes with 1st + 2nd units.

    Yes, Rip Hamilton does create real, plus intangibles for the bulls offensively: floor spacing, scoring + efficient interior passing. Conversely, Boozer has been dominated by opposing PF all season. It's become apparent that Carlos prefers the 15ft fade away jumper and lacks any power inside moves. We'll witness a noticeable shift in Gibson's playing time as the season progresses.

    Mid-season trade prediction: Chris Douglas Roberts-Milwaukee Bucks
    CDR will be eligible to join an NBA squad post italian league season in late February. For 2nd round pick, he'd be able to relieve Deng's excessive mins p/gm average. Unfortunately, Gar-pax will not give us any other major upgrades. Eastern Conference finals or bust.

    Go bulls, C

  • This was a great game for the Bulls. One could make an argument that the Clippers have just as much raw talent as the Heat with CP3, Blake, Butler, Billups, and DeAndre Jordan, plus Mo Williams. The Heat have LBJ, Wade, Bosh, and Norris Cole?...

    The three things that concern me going forward:

    1. Rose needs a monster game to make the Bulls look like they're a Finals quality team.

    2. Deng's three hasn't been falling and neither has Hamilton's. Together they had around 10 quality looks last night and only connected on one or two of them.

    3. Boozer isn't putting up the numbers in the post he'll need to for the Bulls to match the Heat in the ECF.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    If you cannot finish at the rim, you are not a post player

    If you play scarred at the rim and rush your shots, you are not a post player

    If your most effective shot is a fade away 15 footer, you are not a post player.

    Mr Amnesty, is not a post player, stop pretending or wishing that he is, or will magically become one.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    He never was a post player though, not even when he was good in Utah, I don't know why people expect him to be. He needs to start scoring while moving towards the rim again, not rediscover post moves he's never had. Sadly I don't think that will happen either, but at least it's more realistic than expecting a post game out of him.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    One would lose that argument.

    LeBron and Wade are both better than anyone on the Clippers and Bosh is better than anyone outside of Griffin/Paul.

    Also the team doesn't have as much experience or playing time together.

    In terms of your three things:
    1: I agree, but if Rose isn't a monster this ISN'T a finals team. They will win or lose based on Derrick Rose's exploits fair or not.

    2: Agree, very disappointing.

    3: I don't think we can rely on Boozer for anything sadly enough.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I'd say CP3 basically cancels out Dwayne Wade. Certainly CP3 and Billups do. If you were putting together a team, one would take CP3 instead of Wade at this point anyway. Caron Butler is an underrated player if he can stay healthy. Butler and Jordan more than cancel Bosh out. Blake Griffin is no LeBron but he's averaging 28 and 10 so far this season, he's going to dominate. It's only been a few games for them. They don't know how the pieces fit together yet but the raw talent of the team catapults them into contention.

    Anyway, I'm not sure the Bulls have the faintest shot at making the Finals is Boozer averages 10 -- 12 points in the ECF. I haven't seen him go strong to the rim once yet this season. We blamed his lift problems on turf toe last season. Can the guy dunk even now?

  • As dominating as D-Rose was offensively, his defense was as good as I've seen in some time. Paul may have gotten by him once or twice, but Derrick did as good a job avoiding/fighting through screens as I've ever seen him do. And usiing his feet to stay in front of CP3 one on one.

    If Derrick, this season hopefully, gets to a point where he plays good defense like that every game then his momentum and greatness will grow in effect on his Bulls team and the league.

    Also, kudos to Thibs. His demeanor in that first half especially with the smiling confidence and repoire with the players was tremendous. As well, the offensive adjustment to the hyper extended double on Dertrick of having Jo the release valve at the top of the key/circle to receive the pass and hit mid lane cutters worked very, very well. Nice job Thibs and Co.

    Speaking of Jo, his intensity was back in this game. If not for the refs having him on a wanted poster most of the game/season thus far he would have done perhaps even more damage last night. Granted he still has some things to clean up, but nice Old Jo sighting.

    Funny, the hype machine for Miami on ESPN and NBATV has reached a whole new level. Talk about money/ratings whores?

    Hannah Storm on ESPN in "awe" of LeBron/Wade/Bosh to make you gag/vomit as marketing is king, long live the king, Journalism, the king is dead.

    Similarly they're marketing the newly formed Lob City with CP3/Blake Griffin hype/highlights out the ying yang. Granted they are an exciting duo, but NBATV showed only Paul, Jordan, and Griffin hihglihgts in their top five of the night, and not one of that scintillating performance by Rose(who actually won the game?!)

    I know Dunks rule, but some of those plays by Derrick had that crowd and TV audience picking their jaws up off the floor. Thank god at least the game itself was somewhat nationally televised on NBATV. Go Bulls That game was f-ing awesome including Luol "Lt. Deeennnnngggg" with those crazy arm extension lay ins in traffic/high difficulty. Stacy was on his game last night.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Agreed, it's because of his defense that Rose beat Paul last night. Paul is a good play the passing lanes steals man but he's not anywhere near as good an individual defender as Rose is now.

  • I have been able to catch all of Miami's games this season and honestly I can't put them as favorites over the Bulls. It looks like the Bulls have enough offense this year with Rip/Brewer at the 2 willing to take shots, that the Heat will pay for doubling Rose like they did last year. With that said, Rose shouldn't be defending Wade this year unless Korver is in the game. I like making their best players defend our best offensive players but our best player can have an easier matchup on the defensive end of the court.

  • Clearly the most enjoyable, watchable game of the season, especially after the first minute and a half.

    As for Rip, he missed his 3's, but was very effective otherwise, especially in the first half. I wasn't bothered much by his game.

    As for Rose vs Paul, I would still say that Paul is still a better pure point(Steve Nash type without the pure shooting ability), Rose is a better overall basketball player.

    Since Bozo the Boozer, aka Mr Amnesty, aka Tits on a Whore(useless as) cannot guard a single starting power forward in the NBA, it is time to move him to the second unit, which still lacks some scoring punch. Maybe he can still be a 20 &10(per 36) guy playing against second units.

    Since Noah is forced to guard the other teams starting power forward every game, then maybe he needs to start at PF with Asik, then move to center when Taj comes in.

    Last nights game was quintesional Bulls, grinding out an impressive win over a team that provided most of the flash and sports center highlights. Despite having Rose, we are never going to be a glamour team, like Miami, the Lakers, the Knicks, or even OKC and the Clippers(with Chris Paul & the real BG).

    Will that ever be enough to win a title? Likely not as long as Mr Amnesty is our starting PF.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bigway: I agree that reducing Boozer's minutes with the 1st team should be an obvious move. Unfortunately, Mr. Amnesty's ego would not be able to accept such an overt demotion. Yes, he would quit on this bulls team. Instead, you'll likely observe Boozer's playing time decrease over time with the 1st unit + accomplish the same goal.

    It's an insult to label Carlos playing position as "power forward!" If Thibs is able to keep boozers trade value high, he deserves a 2nd nod for coach of the year. Thank god we did not trade Taj over the off season. Be good, C

  • A most enjoyable game to watch. My feeling throughout the game was fundamentals will outdo highlights in the end.

    I was surprised that we didn't see more PNR between Booz and DRose. DJ and Blake are prone to fouling in their enthusiasm to block shots so I thought utilising Booz on offence would have been a good option. DRose likes his high pick with Noah or Asik but they are never a threat in that role.

    Ronnie continues to impress this year. I think he is now fully healthy and confident in his game. He has definitely used the extra closed season to work on his corner 3 which hopefully means more court time for him and why not the starting SG spot.

    I would like to see Thibs staggering his substitutions a bit more. Yes I know the BenchMob work well together but to have a unit of CJ, Rip, KK, Booz and Asik playing together at times would be a real positive. I know its a tough call for Thibs to have your $15mill man working with the reserves but if the team is more proficient that way I say he should at least give it a try. I give Booz credit that he doesn't seem to be a whiner so he might enjoy the opportunity to get his game going a bit more against lessor opposition.
    DRose is the Bulls superstar and we will win or lose on his shoulders. Very rarely in big games will a team win if their superstar underperforms (see Heat (James) v Mavs (Dirk) as evidence). I think the final maturation of Derrick will be when he doesn't need the contest against the other superstars to dominate. But I'm still glad Mr Ping Pong decided we should have the most dominant PG in the game.

    Great game to watch for the highlights and the overall performance of the Bulls.

  • One of the clear signs of an elite team is a winning road record. After 4 games, 3 teams are beginning to separating themselves from the pack.

    Miami 4-0, with 3-0 on the road.
    OKC 4-0, with 2-0 on the road
    Bulls 3-1, with 3-1 on the road.

    In Contrast:
    Knicks 1-2, with 0-2 on the road
    Celtics 1-3, with 0-3 on the road

  • In reply to Edward:

    a great road record is usually the sign of a finals team. Unfortuantely, only 2 of those 3 teams can make the finals, and the Heat are on our side of the bracket.

  • I don't know about the Heat yet. Watched they play a couple of times, and honestly if the Bulls play like they did against the Kings and Clippers, I would have to pick the Bulls in 7 game series.

  • Best part of the game ... when the Clippers announcer said, without laughing, something like "I was talking to Carlos before the game and asked him about his scoring being down and he said 'I'm not bothered by that, all I care about now is defense'". Classic dry wit ... surely he can't have been serious?

    I'm a bit more encouraged by Rip, we knew he'd be low efficiency but he looks good doing what he's doing, surely as the season goes on Thibs will fine tune things and cut out the number of shots he takes which should get him up to at least a respectable level.

    Deng's three point shot does look flat which is strange because from just inside the line he's been money.

  • Now that was a good game, I've never seen the current Bulls play a better game. I just wish management would consider creating a third team of 5 more players including Butler, another big man, a point guard, and at least a young shooting guard who is known for his ability to score who can learn how to play defense while on this 3rd wave of the Bulls--someone like Douglas-Roberts or Kelena Azubuke.

    It is quite obvious that Rip will fit into the Chicago system with Rose like water on a duck’s back or something better.
    Are the Bulls management team over-confident with the team's talent having no sense of urgency to use their 12, 13, 14, and 15th slots to stack up potential players--how else can anyone explain why they have coach Scalabrine and Coach Lucas on the team when players are needed in those positions. Was Keith Bogans more valuable than Scalabrine or Lucas during this past year?

  • In reply to penwit1:

    Penwit1: It appears that Thibs will be not be deviating from his 10 man rotation this season. Consequently, the bulls end of roster players are valued for contributing to quality practice play. Yes, it is a sad statement; but Thibs will not be changing his coaching philosophy. Unless we experience a major injury, the Bulls will be content to hand out 7 figure checks to the white mamba + Lucas III. Not a bad job, C

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