When the Celtics built a decent lead early in the second quarter, the Bulls found themselves bailed out by everyone's favorite whipping boy. Carlos Boozer came to play tonight. When the game was on the line in the fourth, Luol Deng again silenced critics who've said he doesn't score when it mattered.
Carlos Boozer will frustrate fans to no end at times, and I'm scared to death that he'll not be at his beast against the Heat when they need him most. However, if he can bottle this game and whip it out later, the Bulls are an incredible team. Carlos played up to his contract tonight, leading the charge for the victory.
Boozer displayed deft passing, did an excellent job establishing position, and even showed tremendous hustle on the floor tonight. Just an outstanding game by Carlos.
Meanwhile, Luol Deng scored 13 in the fourth quarter including five over the stretch that built the big lead and the final three which iced the game and ended Boston's attempt at a comeback. This year, Deng's proven over and over that he's no longer a player that you can only count on in quarters one through three.
Bulls share the wealth
The Chicago Bulls had 27 assists on 30 baskets. It's a credit to Tom Thibodeau's offensive coaching to how many baskets the Bulls get off of passing and how little they rely on isolation. With Derrick Rose out, they're able to lean on the system and find ways to get good looks.
Of course it's easier to create a high passing offense when you've got two of the better passing big men in the NBA in your starting lineup. They'll get even better in this regard when Richard Hamilton comes back as SG might be their weakest passing position.
The Celtics had a tremendous defense, but the Bulls were able to create easy looks through quality passing all night long.
The one downside to this is that the Bulls shot just under 40% from the field and really struggled to hit anything except for open kick outs and layups off basket cuts. This is, obviously, where the Bulls miss Rose the most. They didn't have anyone to truly create off the dribble and had to rely purely on the offense to get their looks.
Bulls own the glass
This is the primary reason why Boston has basically no chance of beating Chicago in a series. In the end, the Celtics can play some great defense, and they have the shooting and scoring to hang with the best teams. However, the one component they lack is the ability to rebound the basketball, a flaw which is fatal against the Bulls.
The Bulls, the best rebounding team in the NBA, feast on second chance points when their opponent doesn't secure the rebound, and Chicago had plenty of second and third opportunities last night which really pushed them over the top.
Joakim Noah was instrumental in dominating the offensive glass. Celtics fans have to hate this guy as Boston simply couldn't box him out. The eight offensive rebounds is huge but doesn't even due justice to how much he owned Boston on the offensive glass.
Killing it from long range without Korver
The Bulls were 10/21 from the three point line which in and of itself isn't that exciting. However, surprisingly, they pulled that off while Korver shot 0-5 from the three point line. The rest of the team was 10 for 16 led by Luol Deng's six of nine. When the Bulls get shooting like that from guys outside of Korver they're truly dangerous.
Mike James is the original super freak
Mike James is back on a 10 day contract and ended up playing nearly the entire fourth quarter until fouling out with 41 seconds to go. James's numbers (8 points on 2/5 shooting, 3/4 from the FT line, 4 assists, 3 TOs, and 6 fouls) weren't all that awe inspiring, but he gave the Bulls a big lift.
Of his fouls/turnovers, two of them came on charges (which counts as both), and one of those was absolute BS, the other I suspect was BS, but TNT opted to never show a decent replay of it. I was amused by how Reggie Miller complimented Jermaine O'Neal on drawing the first one by saying something to the effect of: "He did a great job sliding in there after James was in the air" and "That's why you always keep your feet moving".
Yeah, when your feet are moving, it's a block, and if you slide in front of an airborne player it's a block. We just complimented the guy on drawing a charge while pointing out he did two separate things which prove it's a bad call. He didn't have either foot set yet when contact was made and he wasn't remotely well out of the area when James jumped.
Joakim Noah called his style of play "jailhouse basketball" when he got physical with Rondo trying to post him up. His passing was typically very good with a couple of passes where he threaded the needle to get the Bulls an open layup.
Overall, it was another great showing by James who's shown he can still play ball at the NBA level.
Bulls finally, sorta, get a quality win
I've been whining that the Bulls haven't beaten a good team yet, and I'm not sure that Boston qualifies. However, to beat Boston without Rose certainly qualifies as a quality win under the circumstances.
Your Bulls injury update
Rip Hamilton is expected back just before or just after the all-star game which really means just after the all-star game IMO, since why the hell would you bring him back in the game before if you can get an extra five days of rest for free?
Derrick Rose will come back when he's ready and is perpetually deemed close to ready, but I have to ask the same thing about Rose. You've got the Nets, Hawks, and Bucks at home. The Bulls probably go two and one over that stretch without Rose, so I'd say take it and give Rose the extra rest.