Rip Hamilton had to be carried off the court and admitted after the game that he heard something pop. He briefly returned to knock down some free throws but wasn't in the game in a situation where he had to do anything athletic or play defense.
"I felt something pop," Hamilton admitted after the game.
"Just the simple fact that there was nobody around," he said of the play in which the injury occurred. "They always say the worst injuries are when nobody's around and you didn't fall down on nobody's foot or anything like that so it's just one of them things that when it happened it scared me. When I felt it I didn't want to put no pressure on it, but it wasn't a whole lot of pain. That's why it was so freaky to me."
The Bulls listed Hamilton as having a left foot sprain, but Hamilton acknowledged that he didn't know exactly what the injury was.
"I don't know what it is," he said. "We don't know what it is until I get an MRI (Sunday)."
Just the quotes that Hamilton had didn't sound particularly encouraging, and Hamilton is right about the worst injuries frequently being the non contact ones. That said, the fact that he didn't suffer severe pain means its unlikely a popped achilles which would be my first guess with a "pop" feeling injury in that area.
Hamilton has played well of late and Belinelli has been a hot mess, so the Bulls will clearly miss Hamilton for any time he's out. Hopefully it's nothing serious, but time will tell.
As for the game itself, this is the Bulls best win of the season in my opinion. The 76ers came in at 10-6, so the Bulls finally beat a team playing pretty well with some quality talent. Jrue Holiday always seems to light them up, and he went off in this game as well.
While some will point to the rebound differential as key to the game, it was effectively irrelevant. Both teams had similar numbers of offensive rebounds, took a similar number of shots, and free throws (prior to the intentional fouling). The Bulls, in the end, just hit a few more baskets than the 76ers.
Luol Deng played like a star
It wasn't always pretty looking, but it was pretty in impact. Luol Deng scored 25 on 16 shots including several shots at the buzzer where he had to create something out of nothing with seconds ticking away on the 24 second clock. He hit big shots down the stretch and was the primary cog in the Bulls offense.
When he wasn't scoring, he was setting up the rest of the offense as he led the team (tied with Noah) with seven assists. I thought that last year, Luol Deng would never make another all-star game and was let in once due to the Bulls great record, but thus far without Rose, he's been awfully good and along with Noah has kept the Bulls afloat.
Joakim Noah potentially saved the day
With the Bulls up three points and a shade under 20 seconds left on the clock, Rip Hamilton missed his free throw which would have given the 76ers a chance to tie the game on a three (given they were 3/12 on the night, it's not all that likely they'd have been successful, but still... ). Noah grabbed the offensive board against a small, offensive oriented 76ers front court, got the ball over to Hamilton who was fouled and then sealed the game.
Noah has been the other cornerstone of the Bulls success so far this season. Noah may be the best passing big man in the NBA, if not, he's in the top three. He passes well out of the high post, low post, anywhere on the floor. He's knocking down the jumper at a fair rate, and looks decent operating in the post.
The percentage of his shots coming off of put backs and open dunks is way down, so Noah has even more room to grow offensively if he gets back to collecting more opportunity baskets.
Taj Gibson played well after struggling recently
I liked his defense, activity on the defensive glass, and he was effective offensively diving to the basket for some easy dunks against an undersized Philly front court. It would have been nice to see him do a bit more damage on the offensive glass, but Taj still had a nice night especially given his struggles recently.
Hopefully he can string together a few more games like this.
It's Jimmy Butler time
It might be premature, but it's hard to imagine that Rip Hamilton is playing next game. I think we're probably going to see a whole lot of Jimmy Butler at SG over the next couple of weeks. He's already effectively stolen all of Belinelli's backup minutes there.
Now Belinelli will likely return to the backup role with Butler starting. Before you start thinking Beli will play just remember that Thibs played Jimmy Butler 48 straight minutes in a preseason game earlier this year. Think he'll hold back in the regular season (okay, he probably will, but I wouldn't be shocked if Jimmy's pushing 40 minutes a night).
Divisional play at hand
The Bulls will be tested against another quality team missing its star player when they host Indiana on Tuesday followed by road games in Detroit and Cleveland. Given the Bulls inconsistency, it's likely they'll drop at least one of the next three, possibly two, but they should be favored in all three contests.
If the Bulls can play up to their capability, they could go along way towards establishing a solid record for when Rose returns.