Derrick Rose brought the Thunder. He hit multiple acrobatic lay ins, showed tremendous burst, had a few dunks, and overall gave fans that superstar feeling they've been missing for so long.
If you went into a coma in late April of 2011, you'd have no idea that Rose was ever hurt. He took multiple tumbles, hopped right back up, and attacked with a fearlessness that shows his confidence is fully back.
If there's any concern with Rose right now, it's simply that he still hasn't really found his jumper yet, but he took very few this game. However, I'll take a game where Derrick effectively lives at the rim rather than one where he launched 10 jumpers and hit half.
This game was a statement to the fans, in Chicago, that the ACL isn't an issue. He blew past Piston defenders repeatedly with ease, finished well at the hoop, and repeatedly got to the free throw line [though he looked awfully uncomfortable despite knocking down 9/10].
Tony Snell looked like a player
I've been fairly critical of Snell so far in summer league/preseason, so it was nice to see him get this game under his belt. Snell started off by missing his first shot and turning the ball over. Then he was forced into taking a tough three at the buzzer under heavy duress and knocked it down.
After that, he seemed to find his confidence and went on to have an excellent night with his 12 points second only to Derrick Rose, and his scoring helping carry a second unit that had temporarily let the Pistons back into the game after the starters build up a big lead. Snell showed excellent passing instincts and shot the ball well giving fans what they were hoping for when he was drafted.
Conspiracy theorist alert
If you believe Mark Deeks article I posted on the pre-game thread about the Bulls shopping Teague then he had another showcase game tonight. He started off as a train wreck, but finished much better.
He scored 11, knocked down multiple jumpers [including a three], and had a couple moves to the hoop. He was one of just four Bulls in double figures and had multiple passing plays that had assist potential but weren't finished.
That said, there's still an element of his offense that feels more lucky than good. He didn't show much passing vision and spent much of his night passing the ball around the perimeter whereas Kirk Hinrich would usually then feed the post when getting the ball. Part of that is by design, because Teague was at the top of the key rather than on the wing though.
Taj Gibson still a beast
It's easy to get overly excited in preseason when it's been so long since watching real basketball, but Taj Gibson really looks improved this summer. He looks more explosive, and his jumper looks vastly improved all preseason. He's been a beast on the glass as well.
Mike Dunleavy Jr, looks good as a hustle guy? What?
I have to say, I'm not exactly Dunleavy's biographer, so maybe this is par for the course, but while his shooting was off, Dunleavy impressed me considerably with his rebounding and hustle on the court tonight.
Most of his rebounds were heavily contested, he made multiple heady defensive plays to force turnovers, and was willing to throw his body around and hustle.
So far, his shooting has looked far below his career numbers, but I'm confident he'll turn that around with some more reps.
Joakim had a typical Joakim night
In his first game back, Noah just recorded three shots. All misses. However, he did an excellent job passing the ball when the offense ran through him. He made plays multiple times on both ends with his athleticism and quickness, and generally looked like that player who will aggravate the piss out of other fans.
Or in other words, just like we'd expect him to.
Bulls strong on the inside
What impressed me most about this game is how the Bulls dominated on the interior. The Bulls bigs outplayed the Pistons bigs. Derrick Rose got to the rim whenever he wanted. The Bulls simply played better in the paint.
That's a strong statement when going up against a team with the front court of Drummond, Monroe, and Smith. The Pistons are big and athletic, but Bulls simply beat them up on the inside anyway.
Bulls fired up some threes
After barely hoisting any threes in their first couple of games, the Bulls launched a more respectable 17 tonight and knocked down seven. Getting that number of attempts closer to 20 while knocking down 7-8 a game.
All in all, the spacing looked much better in this game with Dunleavy in the starting lineup despite the fact that he didn't knock down his first few shots. I think most fans will be content with Dunleavy getting those open threes and seeing what happens.
The Bulls look like an elite team right now. They starters look awfully good, and the bench players who will actually be contributors are also playing well. Most of the struggles in preseason so far have been with the players who won't be in the rotation.