Derrick mentioned he had a chip on his shoulder about this game after the Bulls beat Cleveland, he came out and played like it. Rose dominated the game early, hit the key basket late, and carried the Bulls to victory yet again.
Side note, do I need therapy for this?
You ever feel like Rose has to do too much for the Bulls to win games? I waffle between feeling that's legitimate and feeling that it's a shadow of insecurity leftover from when Ben Gordon clearly didn't have enough to consistently close out games for Chicago a few years ago.
Derrick's a legit superstar. He should close out games. I do think the Bulls need another shot creator, but at times for all the love and praise we heap on Rose, we also are scared to let him bare the full brunt of expectations that praise would demand.
Back to reality, Derrick dominates
All you need to know about how badly Rose carved up the Philly defense is that they went to a five minute stretch of a completely gimmick, overtrapping defense where they doubled Rose the instant he crossed the half court line to get the ball out of his hands [more on that later].
Rose sliced to the rim with ease, frequently taking on a triple team around the basket after beating two defenders from the perimeter. Yet despite the Philly defense overloading against him in a situation where Rose was ultimately beating all five defenders on a single play, he still shot over 50% from the field.
He also knocked down two big shots at the end of quarters with time expiring. Those shots are always momentum killers for the other team.
Derrick did his damage from inside and outside nailing four of seven three point shots to balance out his forays to the hoop. Any injury concerns with his back or toe should be wiped out after watching his post all-star play which has been as good as he's ever been in his career.
Back to the hard trap
Scary enough, when the 76ers threw two strong defenders at Rose 40 feet from the hoop, the Bulls struggled to make anything happen with a 4 on 3. Granted, you've only got about two seconds on the 4-3 before the defense recovers, but it still struck me as a problem that the Bulls couldn't execute out of this more efficiently.
Thibodeau should start running Brewer and Butler at Rose in a hard trap set with the starting unit to mimic this defense and see what the Bulls can do to stop it. They eventually settled into having Noah play up a little closer to Derrick to make the outlet easier and then use him as a decision maker.
Noah needs to be able to dribble into the free throw line jumper from that position and knock that shot down or make a hard drive to the basket and force someone to leave their man wide open.
I do like that the Bulls kept Watson on the floor in this scenario to give the Bulls a second ball handler, a move which paid off once as Watson knocked down a pull up jumper.
The final time the the 76ers attempted this defense Rose was smiling as he walked the ball up the court, immediately took both guys off the dribble to his left and then twisted in mid air to sink a tough righty floater while flying pass the backboard.
Speaking of going left..
Who entered the cliff note about about Derrick can't go left into the ESPN announcer's handbook? Maybe I watch the locals too much or simply watch without volume too much, but is there really still a belief that Rose can't drive to his left? Do people really believe it's so bad that you have to mention it on the telecast on nearly every drive he takes all game?
I mean yeah, given a choice I'd force Rose to go left rather than right, but he drives the ball extremely well from both sides. He finishes better with his dominant hand [like every other player in the league], but is more than capable with his off hand and can use his right the majority of the time when driving left anyway.
I don't know, just felt out of place, like the announcers felt Rose driving left was similar to Rondo shooting threes or some Achilles heal that would really have some impact on the game.
Loved the decision to go with Watson / Rose backcourt
I think it made plenty of sense to help bust the hard trap and when they let Watson bring the ball up and ran backscreens for Rose to get free it hurt their efforts of using the trap even more. It also gave the Bulls someone who could take his man off the dribble when the defense was outmanned due to the double team.
The Bulls could get away with it largely because Philadelphia was going with two small guards, so Watson was going to give the team the shooting without sacrificing defense or playing undersized.
Also nice that Watson was able to tough it out after spraining his ankle right before the close of the first half.
A lot went the 76ers way, and they still lost
The 76ers had a ton of second chance opportunities, frequently getting two or three on one play when they took shots in transition prior to the Bulls fully getting set on defense, but they didn't really turn their offensive rebounds into all that many points. I haven't seen a second chance points stat, but it wouldn't surprise me if Chicago had a similar number of second chance points on half as many offensive boards.
It didn't show up in the box score, but the 76ers had a ton of help from the refs down the stretch of this game. Noah got thrown out of bounds on a play he would have likely had a putback on, followed a couple players latter where Boozer got mauled in the paint with no foul call [though he hit the shot]. A couple of key moments where the Bulls could have put the game much further out of reach.
They also did a tremendous job forcing turnovers while limiting their own turnovers.
However, despite the entire hustle/intangible board pointing in the direction of Philadelphia, they simply couldn't overcome the Bulls talent base. Chicago shot 47.6% from the field while Philly managed a paltry 39.2%, and the Bulls knocked down 7 of 16 threes to Philly's 1 for 11.
It just goes to show that three point shooting can make up for a whole ton of other problems.
Luol Not-so-"Deng"erous in this game
I'll give Deng credit for scoring all eight of his points in a burst that broke open the game for Chicago. He knocked down all three of his jumpers [two of them threes] in perhaps a two to three minute span where the Chicago took over the game to go ahead for good.
He also moved the ball well feeding Asik perfectly for a drive even he couldn't fumble as well as a couple other assists on the night. However, against very good teams the Bulls will simply need more than eight points on 11 shots from Luol. They need him to be more of a threat, particularly once the hard trap came.
Where was Deng when the defense overloaded on Rose and the rest of the team had a 4-3? I don't know, but he wasn't getting the ball, and punishing the 76ers which is what he should be doing in that situation. Perhaps that's coaching rather than a criticism of Deng, but the Bulls simply need more.
Hamilton's still coming around
He shot four of six for eight points which is a nice efficient use of him in his 18 minutes, but he's still pretty clearly on a minute cap as the Bulls bring him around slowly, and he's still not quite finding his groove with the offense yet. \
I'm happy with his progression so far in that there have appeared to be no set backs physically, and I'll take 16 points per 36 minutes on 66% shooting any day. However, I think Rip's going to get much better as time goes on.
Joakim still playing BIG
Noah had 18 boards overall and two key offensive rebound put backs in the fourth. He's still filling up the stat sheet in a big way each night. As noted above, I'd like to see him play a bit more aggressively coming out of the hard trap as the ability to drive and dish/score is well within his skillset if the opposing team has two guys 40 feet away from the basket standing next to Rose.
He missed most of his little baby hooks by going about 2-3 inches long all night, but still had a monster impact on the game and continues to play at a high level.
Four games, four wins, two quality wins
That's the tale of the tape post all-star break, and it feels good. Rose looks like a legit MVP, and the Bulls beat two very good teams on the road in their first four games back from the all-star break. Things won't get much easier the rest of the season as Chicago will play mostly good teams the rest of the way out.
I like the fact the Bulls got the creampuffs out of the way early, when the playoffs roll around, they'll be used to playing tough teams night in and night out from the tough back end of the schedule.