The Chicago Bulls beat the Hawks in Rose's return. Derrick took plenty of hard falls in forays to the hoop and tended to pick his spots as the Bulls road a 35 point first quarter to victory.
What to think of Derrick in his first game back?
As long as he reports no lingering back problems over the next couple days then all is well. He looked a bit cautious at points in this game and then threw his body around with the same reckless abandon that he always does at other times.
Rose missed several finishes he'd normally make, looked shaky from the line, and had a high turnover game. All in all, he still played well but not quite up to his MVP standards. Something which isn't much of a concern unless his play was impacted by soreness rather than rust or simply an off game.
Big men dominating
With Al Horford still out for the Hawks, the Bulls big men dominated the depleted Hawks thin front court. Zaza Puchilia and Josh Smith were about all the Hawks had for big men, and it wasn't enough as the Bulls killed them on the glass.
Carlos Boozer had a strong game, and I thought played well on both ends of the court. He knocked down his jumper at key points, and scored efficiently. On defense, he tended to reach at good times, and did a nice job keeping his body on ZaZa and not letting a scrub beat him up.
It also allowed Noah to roam and play more on the perimeter to help which he did an excellent job of.
The offense got ugly after the first
The Bulls had an awesome first quarter, but in quarters two through four, the Bulls scored 20, 18, and 17. They struggled to find good looks or knock down the quality looks they did get. They tended to settle for a lot of mid range jumpers that they couldn't knock down, and when they were getting boxed out the offense stalled considerably.
The Bulls have struggled with the lack of a secondary player to create, and that hurt them again today, particularly with C.J. Watson out with migraine symptoms after being diagnosed with a concussion. We still haven't seen the Bulls offense with all their offensive pieces for more than a handful of games.
Has Mike James passed John Lucas at PG?
Initially James came in to play back up point guard over Lucas, but then Lucas ended up playing one minute more though he got most of his time at shooting guard? James was fairly successful early in his run, but his style of play grated on me a bit. He had two possessions where he took the ball the full length of the court and used 15+ seconds of the shot clock without passing and eventually took a shot.
Lucas, meanwhile, generally didn't look all that much better. He forced up some ugly shots, was beaten up due to size at time, and generally played like the type of player that he is [one who should be at the end of the bench moreso than in the game]. That said, I'll say this for John, he can knock down an open shot.
Lucas can't really hit threes well when moving around, but if he gets an open kick out, he seems to shoot at an unbelievable percentage.
Omer Asik didn't play in the game. There was no reported injury that I'm aware of [though I haven't checked back with the news as I saw the game live]. I'm sure the Bulls will simply say it was the matchup. The Hawks only rolled out one true center all game, and the Bulls decided to matchup small rather than try to press the Hawks with more size.
The timing is somewhat interesting only in that Gibson/Omer have both struggled, but particularly Omer. I suspect Thibodeau will go right back to him when the opponent whips out a true center on their bench, but it's still telling that Omer's play has been spotty enough that he's benched due to matchup.
In an emergency take Pargo out of the box
Jannero Pargo had one of those one in five game performances where he just went nuts and drained threes and shots all over the place to lead the Hawks in scoring. It probably didn't hurt that he was frequently defended by John Lucas.
The Bulls did a nice job on pretty much all the rest of the Hawks though, and the defense looked solid.
A quality win
Overall, the Bulls played reasonably and beat a good team which is good to see. Just one more game [against Milwaukee Wednesday] before the Bulls shut things down for all-star weekend. I look for the Bulls to pick up the final win and hopefully come back at full strength post all-star game.
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