The Chicago Bulls rode a five game win streak into Orlando and came out with a six game streak. Much like the Clippers game, the Bulls fell into a whole early, but absolutely dominated after the first few minutes turning the game into a laugher with a few minutes left.
Despite Howard's 28 points and 15 rebounds, I felt the Bulls did a solid job defensively on him. They forced him into shooting mostly jump hooks rather than getting wide open dunks and forced him into a bunch of turnovers. The Bulls defended Howard by committee with all four big men taking a crack at him and all of them doing a respectable job, even Boozer.
Kyle Korver brought it
Korver played an unusually high 31 minutes and delivered. He was 5/7 from down town and played very well defensively against an Orlando team without a bunch of slashers. He did a nice job helping out on Dwight and overall had, by far, his best game of the season. With Korver's shooting, the Bulls were 8/14 from beyond the arc overall hitting one more three than Orlando on six less attempts.
Boozer steps up big in a big game
It was nice to see Boozer play so well in a big game. Boozer was very solid offensively, but he also did a very solid job defensively in this one as well including some defense on Howard at points. While we frequently take shots at Boozer's weaknesses one of his great strengths is how quickly he gets shots up on offensive rebounds or basket cuts.
He can just flip the ball up and in so quickly with excellent body control which makes him so deadly when he slip a screen or rolls to the basket.
Derrick Rose was there when the Bulls needed him
Rose missed a bunch of bunnies in this one where he destroyed the defense and just didn't quite get the roll at the rim, but most of those misses were in non critical points with big leads. When the Bulls really needed a hoop, Derrick delivered, just like always.
Rose broke down the Magic defense over and over getting into the paint whenever he wanted and came two boards shy of a trip double on the night. Even though Rose is playing big minutes this season, his minutes don't seem nearly as stressful as they were last season.
He's not having to put up nearly as much effort to handle the scoring load as the Bulls offense has been much more diversified so far this season.
Luol Deng didn't absolutely humiliate Turkoglu
But he still completely outplayed him on both ends of the court.
I don't know if Deng is an all-star, in fact, I suspect that he may not be. However, what I can say is that he's proven to be one of the best two way SFs in the NBA. At this point, how many SFs are you really taking over Deng? LeBron, Durant, Melo, and then... I'm not sure if there's another SF I'd take over Deng after that point.
Deng's offense looks so much better this season, and it's easy to see how much he benefits from playing with better personnel. With Bogans gone and Deng playing more of his minutes with more threats on the floor his high basketball IQ allows him to get far more easy points than last season where the defense typically only had to cover four guys on the court.
Taj Gibson's defense is awesome. What a luxury to bring this guy off the bench.
Give John Lucas some props for coming in and playing very solid back up PG minutes. So far, the Bulls haven't ever been hurt with Lucas in the game, and when you go from Derrick Rose to John Lucas and break even or increase the lead by a couple points then you feel really good about those minutes.
Bulls just beat another top 8 team in the NBA on the road and did so without Rip and Watson.
Big win for the Bulls, and they did it without seeming to push that hard. Derrick Rose didn't have to go into beast mode. Things don't get a whole lot easier tomorrow against the Atlanta Hawks team that almost beat them in the United Center, but after the Hawks the Bulls catch a soft spot in the schedule with a bunch of winnable games.