It seems this whole season one guy comes back and another guy goes down. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah returned for the Bulls, but Luol Deng sat the game with a wrist injury which the team is being rather cagey about.
Luol Deng is seeking a second and third opinion on his left wrist [non shooting hand, hooray for that] after injuring it against the Bobcats. X-Rays were negative so there's no break, but Tom Thibodeau mentioned that surgery has not been ruled out at this point.
The quote itself implies some type of tear as far as I can tell, because I don't know what else would require surgery. Hopefully Luol is okay, I'm sure we'll find out more in the next couple of days. I'd speculate whatever is going on won't keep Luol out of the playoffs, but he may sit for awhile.
Back to the game itself.
The Nets fared well against the Bulls vaunted defense, and if the Bulls didn't have an offensive explosion against the Nets pathetic defense, this might have been a game. Overall, the Nets shot a high percentage, turned the ball over rarely, got to the foul line, and knocked down a respectable number of threes.
Unfortunately for them, the Bulls did all of those things as well except they also shot 57% from the field. Early on, it looked like the Bulls would mop up on offensive rebounds alone, but the Nets did a solid job on the defensive glass in the second half. Of course, much of the fourth quarter was spent with the Bulls looking to wind the clock and play conservative rather than crash the glass.
If you listen to the blogger, you'll be blogging along with him
I did not want the Bulls to sign Richard Hamilton. I didn't think the idea was abhorrent, but I was squarely in the Jason Richardson camp. Well, I can be a notorious flip flopper, but right now, I feel pretty stupid for that opinion.
Watching Hamilton just makes me say "screw the stats, this just works", but as it turns out, his stats are better than Richardson/Crawford too.
Hamilton looks incredible in this offense, and I really didn't even notice that he scored 22 points. What he did was make all the plays of a PG all night long. He racked up assists at an unbelievable rate, and while he was certainly fortunate in terms of the shots completed his fit in the roster is just so smooth.
He creates such a threat on the floor, and when he and Rose are playing together the defense is broken down so much more than having a dude camp out behind the three point line. His motion is just crushing opposing defenses. I can't wait to see the Bulls play Miami [hopefully with both teams at full strength] to see how the two square off.
I think the Bulls have improved more than the Heat this off-season, and Hamilton is the biggest reason why [though internal improvements are helping considerably as well].
Hooray for Derrick's return
Rose had a strong game with 22 points and eight assists while shooting an efficient 9/16 from the field. He looked a bit tentative out there to me, and I just hope that he's not trying to push through the pain and lets the toe get better. Rose said that he'll have to deal with pain all year in the toe, but he really doesn't.
He could just sit out for 2 more weeks and be fully healthy, and if the Bulls drop a couple games then do we really care? Better to have the team fall to .500 and have Rose fully healthy in the playoffs than have the #1 seed but have Rose limping into them.
Interestingly, the Bulls played a Watson/Rose pairing tonight for awhile using Rose as the off guard. I'm not opposed to a Watson/Rose pairing, but I think Derrick still needs to play PG in that scenario. I really didn't like the look of Rose playing off the ball much.
Still, I'm glad Thibodeau is taking games like this and using them as opportunities to experiment with new ideas.
Joakim flipped the stud switch to the "on" position
Okay, so maybe he scored those three straight baskets because he was being defended by Shawne Williams. So what? Noah looked very smooth tonight with 16, 10, and 4. Overall, Joakim is back playing with a high energy level, and he's impacting the game.
Amusing moment of the night was when Neil Funk [seriously] said that he thought they were bringing in Scalabrine for Noah to add speed to the team on the floor.
Asik keeps destroying
I don't listen to the opposing broadcast much, but I'd bet when an opposing teams fan watches the game and sees Omer Asik come into it that they don't think a whole lot. 7 foot white dude with no offense, probably a stiff.
Well, he doesn't have a whole lot of offense, but his defense continues to impress, game after game. The Bulls did a great job snagging him in the draft and showing patience waiting for him to come over from Europe. Hopefully after this season they can lock him up at a reasonable price.
Brian Scalabrine looks good in this system
I've always had respect for the way Brian Scalabrine plays the game. He doesn't really have the athleticism to stick as a rotation player, but he puts effort out on defense, shoots well, and always makes very good decisions. I've thought the Bulls could generally do better, but his skillset really fits well with this team.
The Bulls can throw Brian Scalabrine out there and get quality results, because they have the help defense to make up for his lack of foot speed and an offense predicated on moving the ball and making good decisions. Scalabrine gave the Bulls 20 quality minutes last night.
I've come to the conclusion that Tom Thibodeau really knows what he's doing. I thought Scalabrine and Lucas were on the bench because they knew his system and could help lead practices. Watching these guys step up when the players in front of them were hurt, it's become clear that knowing his system has allowed them to make a considerable positive impact on the game.
They have stepped up and given the Bulls quality output when their number has been called taking a team I thought was about 10-11 deep and proving it's really 13 deep.
Missed opportunity to whine
Bulls fans upset that Chicago didn't draft Marshon Brooks missed their opportunity to whine if he scored 20 on his because he sat out with an injury. So sad indeed.
All in all another quality win
The Bulls keep rolling with makeshift lineups and different guys stepping up when they have the opportunity. This team has incredible chemistry on both ends of the floor. The trust in each other is immense on both ends, and it's that trust which allows guys like Lucas and Scalabrine to come into the game and make big impact.
When a team has chemistry and is on the same page they can pass a half second sooner knowing the guy will get there when the ball does. They can hedge a half step further on help defense knowing the correct rotation will be made. In short, this team plays like a true team, and they're reaping the benefits of it.
There's no glory hounding, Derrick Rose has quietly let his stats slide, he could score far more every game but works to get his teammates involved more.
I don't know if the Bulls will win a title, but it's a beautiful team to watch play right now.
Filed under: Game Threads