C.J. Watson hurt as Bulls annihilate Grizzlies

The Chicago Bulls played defense well enough that not even Tom Thibodeau is likely to find much to complain about. The Grizzlies were terrible from the get go, but things didn't get any easier when Zach Randolph went down.

It wasn't all good news for Chicago though.

C.J. Watson appeared to hyperextend or dislocate his elbow in the fourth; he went to the locker room and did not return. Richard Hamilton sat out the game with a groin injury, and as we know, any injuries in a compressed schedule magnify in their importance as more games can be missed in less time.

There isn't much to take away from individual performances in this game, but it's nice to see the team defense coming around so well. If C.J. is expected to miss an extended period of time, I look for the Bulls to try and find a veteran PG to add to the team.

One thing worth noting is that Carlos Boozer played an excellent game. He's one of the whipping boys for fans [including myself] for his poor defense and somewhat non impactful offense, but Boozer really had it going on tonight. He scored 17 on 7/10 shooting with 11 rebounds in just 24 minutes.

Moreover, Boozer's offensive performance is really what broke the game open, and Memphis never recovered.

Also, Ronnie Brewer had a nice night starting for Richard Hamilton. He scored 17 on 6-10 shooting and knocked down another three. He's now four of four on the season from beyond the arc, and Ronnie is shooting the jumper without hesitation.

It's great to see Brewer playing so well.

Also congrats to Jimmy Butler for scoring his first points as an NBA player and feeding Big Macs to the city of Chicago all at once.

At this point, let's just hope the Bulls are healed up for Tuesday's matchup against Atlanta.

Filed under: Game Threads

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  • With a whole bunch of games this week...I guess John Lucas will be playing big minutes. I know he will probably get dominated in the playoffs or by good PGs. But, I feel he is a better distributor and will run the offense against teams like Detroit, Washington whom the Bulls are playing next week.
    I guess we need to show some Boozer love today. He definitely dominates when he finds somebody he can match-up better but when he is against better match-ups...flat goes his tires.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    You are exactly correct! It's all about the matchups for Boozer as he has physical limitations at PF being so undersized and without much lift. That's why Boozer will get some big games during the regular season (like tonight when 11 of Boozer's points came with Zach Randolph gone) but struggle deeper in the playoffs when all the quality PFs are 6'10' - 6'11".

    But one thing I did notice tonight is Boozer was scoring through movement - perhaps more like he did in Utah. Tonight Bulls didn't just dump the ball to him in the post and expect him to backdown the opposing defense. Booz can't really do that consistently (only occasionally), so he needs different scoring opportunities. Hope Bulls can use Booz more in this flex/movement manner. Other posters have pointed this out before.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Agree completely that Boozer scores best when on the move. Setting pick and rolls and going to the basket is really his best option. Of course, you need to mix things up enough to be unpredictable or else the defense can always take away one option.

  • In reply to Edward:

    One game does not a season make.

    Memphis appeared to have little interest in playing defense tonight and that was before Randolph went down, after that they looked like a lottery team on the last night of the season.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    It probably will be fine playing Lucas for awhile, he'll play limited minutes anyway, and most of the competition we face isn't exactly top notch.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    The good news though is that there is not a lot of minutes to be had there behind Rose. Rose can even absorb more than he has had lately. Lucas II looked confident last night. I see no reason to add another PG, at least anyone good.

  • Boozer played good and the White Mamba was unleashed on Memphis. What more could you ask for to start the new year.

    I love Bulls basketball!!!

  • Sounds like CJ will be out for awhile. This could be good to a degree forcing the Bulls to find a backup for Rose. They can't go with John Lucas he's just not an NBA player. I can't believe they don't have a backup for Derrick Rose thats kinda disappointing really. I was saying if CJ goes down who will they go to? What do ya know. IMO CJ really isn't even a point guard he's more like a small 2 guard. Thats something thats really puzzled me about the Bulls roster moves. No true backup PG.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    How could you be disappointed with CJ's performance this year? Last year he did look somewhat uncomfortable at times, but he seemed to have really hit his stride. I don't really see how you can be so critical when he has been very good so far.

    Also, I think a few people mentioned this before, but who do you think will want to come to Chicago to be a 3rd string PG? Anyone with enough talent will go somewhere else to play with a second unit. All the 3rd string guys are comparable (NBA practice squad players, won't see min).

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    I never said anything about being disappointed in CJ. I just said it was disappoint the Bulls never sought a backup PG for Rose.

    CJ is more of shooting guard.

    I like Carlos Arroyo or Eddie House.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    I think you're vastly overestimating the depth of Pg talent in the NBA. Last year CJ averaged 6.1 assists per 36 minutes. The most any backup averaged was Farmar at 7.4. Also nobody on the list ahead of CJ shot the three better or has a better steals per minute rate than he did. In terms of the all round package CJ gives you I doubt you will find a better backup PG unless you're willing to pay a lot more than what he is on.

    Don't really see the he's a SG complaint either, CJ runs the offense pretty well given he is usually in with some fairly limited or one dimensional players. If anything his putrid shooting from anywhere inside the arc disqualifies him from being a good SG far more than anything lacking from his PG skills.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Agree completely.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Shakes: Astute observations. In looking @ CJs maturation over 2 seasons, he has dramatically improved his ball handling skills + understands the offensive sets. The bulls have developed an a-typical 1st + 2nd unit squads that rely on increased point production via the point guard position.

    Without CJ in the line up, who will step up offensively to fill in the scoring gap? The bench mob provides the bulls with a crucial advantage over the competition each night.

    Second unit:
    John Lucas III
    Ronnie Brewer
    Kyle Korver
    Taj Gibson
    Omer Asik

  • In reply to Shakes:

    I'm not saying I wouldn't want CJ Watson I'm just saying they should have signed another pg and not JL3. I don't think there is anything wrong with what I said.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    it is hard enough to find a second competent point guard, complaining about not finding and keeping a third is ridiculous.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    As fans, we want the next big name or the best young prospect to replace our current guy. But, the point is CJ is more of a less talented Rose rather than a distributing PG. The dilemma is we need a distributing PG when the second unit which has some offensively challenged players are in good positions to make a basket and CJ is not really that. That said, I don't know if we can find one either.
    There are no "Mr Happy" comments of trading Taj for Sam Young going on here.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I just disagree with that. CJ is a good distributor too.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    What is ridiculous is saying it too hard to find a 3rd string PG better than John Lucas 3. How tall is he 5'4?This just a favor to John Lucas Sr. who was loyal to Thibs giving him jobs every place he went like SA and Philly. Look it up Lucas kept Thibs employed. Thats bs you're telling me there are no point guards out there who could make an NBA team and help the Bulls? It's clearly politics and I don't see any reason why JL3 and Scal are good enough to earn a roster spot.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    It's a 3rd string PG, who cares? You don't need to be 15 deep. If Derrick suffered a serious injury, Watson would step in & they would make a move for a backup, but right now they just need a guy who is happy to have a 3rd string job.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    +1

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    You don't think CJ is a "pure PG", but you want to bring in Eddie House to play PG?

    You should really be a comedian, because that is just plain funny. Seriously. Laugh out loud funny.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    The Bulls aren't going to spend more than the vet min on a backup PG, they aren't going to get an upgrade to CJ Watson with that money.

    His injury looked a lot like Rondo's injury in the playoffs last year against Miami to me.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Doug: At least the injury was sustained to CJ's non-shooting elbow....we'll have him back hoisting up 3s with a protective sleeve in 2-4 wks. Tx, C

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    So they're ok with JL3? I'm not.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    I'm fine with him for what he is: a guy who will sit on the bench and only play a game or two if someone gets a short term injury. If Watson's injury had put him out for the season then I'm sure the Bulls would make a move and get someone in rather than play Lucas all year.

    The fact Lucas isn't NBA quality is why the Bulls are able to pay him to sit on the end of the bench and do nothing: the guys who are good enough to play typically want to go somewhere where they actually get to play.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I never said find an upgrade over Watson. I was saying 1. Watson isn't really a point guard which he isn't. 2. JL3 shouldn't be on the roster.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    How is he not a PG?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Because he plays like a two guard?

  • In reply to souleater7:

    How does he play like a 2 guard?

    -he defends opposing PGs, & well
    -can handle the ball like a quality PG
    -averages a high amount of assists for a backup
    -makes the occasional great pass
    -has the quickness of a PG
    -runs the offense, setting the tempo

    Can he score & shoot? Yes. But this is a good thing.

  • In reply to SoulEater7:

    I'm tired of people saying both CJ & Derrick are not true point guards. They are. CJ had 9 assists that one game Derrick was in foul trouble. You're not going to get a perfect player who is going to play 12-15 minutes a night.

  • Hey Doug,
    This is what I have been talking about for the last two weeks--just in case someone gets hurt what could the Bulls do to minimize the temporary loss of a key player. Here's my New Year wish for the Bulls management to consider:
    1. No major injures
    2. Deng plays too many minutes and we need him especially during the playoffs-- I wish Butler or Korver could play more while reducing the minutes Deng plays--Coach must prepare the team to play with the focus on advancing in the playoffs.
    3. Another big to fill in, just in case a big gets hurt- the Bulls have got to get a physical big from somewhere--someone to disrupt opposing team offenses and who can play 10 minutes a game, who is rough enough to stop dunks --even a big who could just focus on playing defense.
    4. A player in the 15th slot--a 2 guard scorer like Douglas-Roberts or Azubuke to train defensively--who can be had for the vet minumum and who potentially could start a couple of years from now.
    5. That it may be extremely important for the Bulls management to consider using the 14th, and 15th spots on the team to develop players to be defensively sound and know the rotations--who can step in during injuries when the starting team or backups are hurt. I was extremely glad to see Lucas III play well last night and even happier to see the White Mamba play--so if these guys can get some playing time and also simply concentrate on defense we could have an even deeper team.

  • In reply to penwit1:

    Agree completely about Thibs playing Deng WAY TOO MUCH. Even last night against Memphis Deng played all but 3-4 minutes of the 1st half, plus the entire 3rd quarter. And this is a game that may be the biggest blowout of the season.

    Deng needs to get 6-7 minutes of rest PER HALF - EVERY HALF if we expect him to be fresh in the playoffs. We have Korver and Jimmy Butler so there's no reason to grind Deng into the ground..
    Same is true for Rose, but now the CJ injury exacerbates the problem.

    I think the lack of training camp and preseason is widening the gap between the good and bad teams. Teams are on the rise with great expectations like Bulls, Heat, Thunder are exceptionally prepared/focused and the lack of preseason is not affecting them. But many other teams appear to be going through the motions without focus and look poorly coached, unprepared or disorganized.

    So my theory is this should give Thibs more opportunity to rest Deng and Rose against these lesser prepared teams.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I wasn't going to say anything, but since you brought it up, I was thinking the exact same thing during the 3rd quarter last night.

    What the fuck was Thibs thinking, again. He removed all of his starters mid way through the 3rd, but kept Deng in until almost the end of the quarter.

    Would it have killed him to put Jimmy Butler in during the 3rd quarter to get some run with the second unit, especially since Rip was in street clothes and Brewer started.

    Thibs needs to acquire some of that Phil Jackson zen.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Everyone said the same thing last year yet Deng didn't break down with an injury and he didn't wear out for the playoffs.

    In blowouts, sure, I'd like to see Deng sit earlier just because there's no point risking injury when the game is won. But on a night to night basis I trust Thibs knows more about what Deng can handle than we do.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    I agree completely Shakes. Deng's been more healthy & productive than ever with increased minutes. Some people's bodies get stronger the more they're worked & conditioned. No need to baby him. There are people that play hours & hours of basketball every day, and we are talking about a professional athlete here. I say keep playing him 40 minutes. Play Derrick more too. Get him conditioned for the playoffs when his minutes will definitely be up.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I don't know if anybody has noticed, but after only 5-6 games, guys are dropping like flies, especially veterans. This is not a normal season and won't be, injuries will likely be more of a factor this season than they have been in a long time.

  • Well then I guess my question is why is JL3 on the Bulls? Even last night ok he make a 3 but he's a chucker.

  • Carlos Boozer's return, career/near star Boozer that is, and Derrick's vastly improved/impact D are the biggest stories in the young Bulls season so far for my money.

    Boozer could come back to form. He's not the jumper he was, but his speed and leaping horizontally to get to the rim as a cutter I thought looked good. He looks trimmed down to me and focused. And his defensive involvement/energy was acceptable for a starter. He'll a;ways have flaws, but energy/comittment wil have to do. And Granted this was a sub-par Memphis team, and it's only one game. But something could be brewing.

    If Boozer's offense comes back 18-19 ppg on 50% and up with active/9-10 boards a game then we really do have a near second star. If Jo keeps improving/coming around to his previous level which is entirely possible this Bulls team could get a huge boost forward. And Taj has looked healthy as well.

    Ronnie has two years of his young career as a double figure high field goal percentage/50% guy. If he can be the energy guy off the bench whose making jumpers respectably along with his transition dunks and basline/weak side layups etc? And he's a defensive energy guy with long arms and active hands/steals per minutes. You add all that if the guys can somehow stay healthy of which they are certainly due(and we have a good crew so the karma's there - ha, ha).

    This could be the really good Bulls team, that despite the phony rhetoric/lip service from the media at the beginning of the season where nobody really thought Chicago could beat the Heat, this could be that Bulls team after all. But there's a long way to go. We need RIP playing/healthy this year, and C.J. hopefully not a devestating/out for the season injury, but back within 4-6 weeks(or sooner).

    And Derrick looks much better as do the bigs in executing pick and rolls and screens. Thibs and Co. have refined it, and much credit to his crew and his demeanor to me looks more stable/befitting a head coach. A+ on Thib's progression in which exceptional people are capable of change. That's the best part of sports the excitement of growth/watching change before our eyes.

    Speaking of growth, Exhibit A: Derrick's Defense. That's two straight games where he looked good staying with his man, and cutting through screens. Plus he's been going down low on obvious black hole/interior plays for harassing doubles and boards ala M.J. I've neevr seen him do that especially in two straight games. This development alone is huge. Derrick as a defensive leader changes the whole tenor/energy of the team.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Everytime that Boozer scores a couple of points against a complete crap defense, everyone starts to think that his defensive effort has magically gotten better, it simply has not.

    At best Mr Amnesty is nothing more than the BG of power forwards, which means he is among the worst defensive players in the history of the league.

  • Team played great defense and kept turnovers low and the opposing team out of transion. Asik looked pretty good last night, raising his value....Bulls should be able to land a late lottery pick for him during the draft or risk losing him when some desperate team like the Kings or GS throws a 4 year 30 million dollar deal at him(jerry will not pay the tax for asik). I hope they pick up Tyler Zeller that can play alongside Noah since he is skilled offensively on has good foot speed. This would also lessen the burden of having Boozer as he continues to decline, although I think he is playing good basketball for his standards compared to the end of last year. Great win, let's keep rollinngg. OJ Mayo didn't look so hot, I'd rather have kept Asik and the charlote pick....the Bulls FO is pretty astute in their evaluations...well most of the time.

  • I was telling ya'll to expect an improved year from 3pt land for Brewer..you guys didn't believe me!

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