Chicago Bulls ride Nate Robinson to victory in the fourth quarter

Chicago Bulls ride Nate Robinson to victory in the fourth quarter

The Orlando Magic came to the United Center undefeated with monster scoring performances by Glen Davis and J.J. Redick through their first two games. The Bulls gave them a taste of what it's like to go up against a real defense.

The Bulls defended well most of the game, but Orlando hung around and captured the lead through some amazing three point shooting both percentage wise (42%) and in terms of degree of difficulty. The Bulls weren't simply lazy getting out to the three point line, the Magic made some awfully tough looks.

Outside of their work behind the arc, Orlando found it difficult to get much done against Chicago's defense which trapped and rotated crisply for most of the night. For most of the night Chicago also failed to get much done on offense though struggling to shoot the ball after an initial hot start in the first quarter.

That changed with Nate Robinson playing the role of energizer bunny in the fourth quarter. The Bulls scored on ten of eleven possessions through one stretch to take command of the game and held on for a relatively easy win. The Magic knocked down a couple more threes in the final minute to trim a 10 point lead to four, but Chicago answered, and the Magic never got closer again.

Nate started the stretch with two jumpers, followed by two assists to Luol Deng. Over the stretch he contributed seven points and four assists highlighted by a driving layup through the defense. Once again, Nate Robinson's play has pushed Kirk Hinrich to the bench in the fourth quarter.

What's most impressive about the game though is that the Bulls won based on their offense rather than defense and hustle. They won with a 31 point fourth quarter. They didn't force tons of turnovers (11) nor did they dominate on the offensive glass (9). They didn't grind the Magic into dust with their defense (41.9% allowed FG% is very good, but the high three point percentage allowed mitigated it).

They scored. When it mattered they scored virtually every possession and took the game.

Joakim Noah looks like an all-star

Noah's knocking down his mid range jumper, passing the ball well to create for others, and showing a more consistent baby hook in the post. In short, he's providing more on offense than in the past while remaining an absolute terror on defense. Historically his greatest strength has been rebounding, but he's now contributing at a high level in all facets of the game.

Through the critical game winning stretch Noah picked up a couple of assists including a quick precise bounce pass between two defenders to Taj Gibson for an open dunk. He blocked five shots and swarmed the Magic's perimeter players all night long on traps and pressure while still getting back to defend his man.

Taj Gibson is right there with Joakim in terms of defense playing with a similar quick, athletic style. Both players can defend the perimeter and interior, rotate quickly, and most importantly, make quality defensive decisions about when to help and when not to. The duo make Tom Thibodeau's schemes successful with their ability and effort level every night.

Gibson also scored six over the Bulls big stretch knocking down consecutive well contested 18 footers as well as the dunk from the sweet feed from Noah.

Luol Deng picked up all the scraps

Luol had the biggest night offensively for the Bulls. While Robinson provided the juice down the critical stretch, Deng was around all game long pouring in points to keep the Bulls involved while scoring six in the Bulls big run.

He did much of his damage at the rim on a combination of put backs, dives, and breakaways as well as hitting his patented mid range jumper.

Luol still hasn't found the stroke on his three point shot going 0-2 tonight and is now just 1-11 on the season. However, he always rebounds, always defends, and always finds a way to use his versatility to help the team. Deng has been the ultimate glue guy as he always finds a way to contribute on the floor.

For a guy who can't create his own shot or break players down off the dribble, it's hard to imagine a perimeter player having a bigger impact on the game.

Mission accomplished

My goal for the Bulls through the first four games was to pick up three of them. They pulled off the feat, and I feel good about that as a start even if the loss to New Orleans was particularly disappointing under the circumstances. Things are about to get a whole lot tougher, so we'll see how the Bulls can adapt to a higher caliber of competition.

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    I was pretty critical of Nate last game but he sure came thru this time - shared the ball when he needed to and brought a great spark. And Lu was his usual strong quiet presence. Jo being Jo - gotta love it!!!!

  • Looks like Nate is worth more than the incompetent Bulls management is paying him, that's Bulls F O for ya.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Now if they had only signed Mayo instead of Clank Hinrich....

  • So is it safe to say that Joakim has a better post game than Howard? lol, seriously.

  • You gotta give credit to the Magic, they played hard and have some excellent shooters. You all saw the solid talent that Etwaun Moore is and his former perdue team mate JaJuan Johnson is just as good. Unfortunately I feel our front office/management has Jannero Pargo syndrome, in which they only go for washed up 30 year old veterans instead of taking a chance on a young talent. We need a 5th big instead of another wing which will make no sense when Rose will be back in a few months. Loved the defensive lineup in the game late and it just makes me think of last year when thibodeau had the habit of benching both Boozer and Noah at the same time even when Noah was playing well. Noah is not the problem and you saw he is a more versatile defender compared to Asik. Nate has just been fantastic, he's everything the Bulls have been lacking....athleticism, scorer, high energy. We need more Nate Robinsons on this team.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    1) I agree the Bulls need to sign another big when they can add a roster spot in late November.
    2) Trade Captain Klank to Milwaukee now and Rip Hamilton to anybody.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    a good trade would be Hinrich and Paxson to the Milwaukee Bucks, in return epke Udoh plus expiring point guard since they have a billion powerforwards.

    They need a big because we all see Nazr has lost a step and struggles to rotate and move on defense, he's also having trouble finishing around the rim. Don't even mention Radmanovic who is pure garbage on defense. The Bulls are plain stupid if they add another perimeter player when they could add a young athletic defensive minded powerforward that can shoot the midrange. It's a no brainer but then again we are dealing with Garpax, who aren't the sharpest managers in the business.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Thank you, thats what I've been screaming at the top of my lungs for the past 2 seasons. Noah was not/is not the problem, even if Asik was/is a superior defender(debatable).

    For those of you complaining/worried about Noah playing 40 minutes, I have also always contended that despite not being a physical specimen Noah is one of those guys who plays better with extended minutes, he needs to get his froth on. Not saying that I want him to average 40, but 36-38 is better than 30 or less as was sometimes the case last season.

    It is water under the bridge now, but I've regularly maintained that the Bulls were championship contenders with a 3 man big rotation of Noah, Asik and Taj splitting the 96 minutes available evenly @ roughly 36 apiece. That plus Rose, and a couple of talented wing scorer's was our path forward.

    Speaking of minutes, hopefully, Butler is going to start earning at least 20-24 minutes a night, although, I am still somewhat dubious that he can regularly play significant minutes at 2 guard given his complete lack of shooting guard abilities on offense.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree that Noah/Asik together is something Thibs should have used more while Asik was here. I think the 3 bigs + spot minutes from Deng at the 4 works fine as a regular rotation. But the Bulls were never going to amnesty Boozer so it's really pointless wondering what might have been.

    I think if Butler is to get a bump in minutes it should be along side Deng in a small ball 3/4 combo. Although I don't think Butler needs to play more minutes until he shows he deserves them. Once he starts regularly playing well as Deng's backup then it's time to work out how to get him on the court more.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I don't know if it's so much that Butler doesn't have 2-guard offensive ability (or just offensive ability in general) as much as you get the feeling that he's trying not to disrupt anything; that he's just trying to fit in, to get the already-established guys the ball.

    It's also possible that he's worried about being pulled for doing something wrong, so he's playing more conservatively.

    So I wouldn't be surprised at all if, as he gets more comfortable and more established, he gradually becomes more aggressive on offense and shows some abilities that are already there but just not yet being utilized.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Well they effectively signed Nate Robinson instead of Etwaun Moore. Robinson's been very good, so it's hard to complain about that.

  • Thanks for a fine recap, Doug. Didn't watch the game as I was so caught up with the re-election of a great President. But I take comfort in the fact that I can come here and be assured of a fair recap from you.

  • In reply to SlamDunk:

    I got such a kick that Romney was still campaigning on Tuesday while President Obama was in Chicago balling with Scottie Pippen.

  • Any team that competes, plays hard, and has ANY offensive game (i.e. NOH and ORL) will be able to stay with us until the end.

    Because of the Bulls' lack of offense, it will take at least Rip, Deng, or Nate having very good games in order for us to win.

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