As expected, the Bulls could not stop Rajon Rondo and that doomed them to defeat. Chicago made big runs when he left the game, but neither Marquis Teague or Nate Robinson had any hope of slowing him down while he was in it. Rondo scored 20 with 10 assists and was just a rebound shy of a triple double. However, there were some positive to take away from the loss for Chicago.
Luol Deng looks awfully healthy
Many felt Deng should have the surgery on his left wrist because he would be too limited, but he handled the ball quite frequently in this game and created plenty of looks off the dribble. Luol's never been a great shot creator, but against both Boston and OKC he showed an ability to create off the dribble and score at times.
He's clearly below superstar level, but in the bigger games, he looks like he's trying to step up. He delivered with a game high 26 points and 11 rebounds and kept Chicago in a game that could have easily fallen away.
Marquis Teague played well
The Bulls left Marquis Teague in the game to finish it off after they mounted a comeback while he lead the reserves. I'll question whether this was the right thing to do, especially as the Bulls needed three point shooting, but the fact that he played well enough that it wasn't a crazy thought was nice to see.
Teague shot just one of four from the field, but drew two fouls while driving to the rim and was screwed on a bad call on a potentially momentum changing layup that went down as an offensive foul. The refs thought Teague pushed off with his off arm while in the air, but the replay showed barely any contact and certainly no forceful contact.
Had the call gone the other way [or been a no call which was probably the right choice] the Bulls would have closed a lead to a single point and really stifled the Celtics momentum.
All of my other comments on Teague to date still stand. He needs plenty of work on defensive fundamentals, and he needs to hit more of his shots, but tonight he was in a bit more control with the ball with his only TO coming on that weak offensive foul call and consistently found himself deep in the paint after slicing through the Boston defense.
When you Booz, you lose
Defensively the Bulls needed a huge effort from their front court last night. They needed guys to defend Rondo and then still rotate back on their own man or to help the helper. Whenever you need a big night from your frontcourt defense, you know it's going to be trouble with Boozer playing.
The Celtics simply annihilated the Bulls while Boozer was in the game. Carlos shot the ball well giving the Bulls 15 points on 7/14 from the field, but his rotations were slow, his rebounding was lazy (which is somewhat uncommon for him), and the Bulls could not contain the Celtics while he was in the game.
On the other hand, when Taj Gibson entered the game, the Celtics offense struggled significantly more. They failed to get up as good of looks, and the Bulls made big runs. Part of it was personnel (Taj played against backups more), but part of it is what we already know to be true. Boozer kills you on defense.
Noah continues hot offensive play
Joakim Noah had another big offensive night flashing the full skill set. His hustle to get down the floor on the breakaway and get a dunk off a nice pass from Deng put the Bulls in position to win, and he hit other key shots to keep the Bulls in the game when Boston was threatening to break away earlier.
I would have liked to see him do a bit more damage on the offensive glass, but it's hard to complain about his 17 point 11 effort.
Defensively he had his work cut out for him. He had to defend Rondo in the paint, but still get back on his own man as well. He put forth a tremendous effort, but he frequently wasn't getting help when he left to help, and the Bulls defense fell apart.
Things went much better with Gibson in the game, but the pair still made a couple of critical mistakes down the stretch that allowed for easy points by the Celtics as Rondo and Garnett went to the same screen, alley oop play three or four times during the game and twice down the stretch.
No more moral victories
The Bulls were put in a tough spot without Kirk Hinrich, but moral victories just add up in the loss column, and this was a missed opportunity. The Bulls kick off their five game road trip in Phoenix on Wednesday and need to get a win or else we'll likely be in for a depressing podcast this weekend.