Bulls rebound against hapless Hawks

The Hawks made it interesting, especially given the only big man they had playing was Elton Brand, but their lack of players up front allowed the Bulls to score easy baskets at the rim for most of the night.

Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer connected multiple times on give and gos, and the Bulls front court scored 47 points with Boozer and Noah both having efficient, high scoring nights from the field. Mike Dunleavy was big early and hit a big lay up late on his way to 22 points, and the Bulls ultimately had seven who scored in double figures.

This felt like a game the Bulls should have dominated, but the Bulls struggled to defend the Hawks small ball lineup at times, and Atlanta drilled a ton of three pointers to score in big chunks when they were on.

It was a big win for Chicago to get the bounce back victory on the road after losing to Miami on Sunday and prior to playing Golden State tonight. The Warriors are tough, and the Bulls will have a difficult time grinding out a win against them, especially coming off a back to back. Getting the win last night was big to keep their momentum going.

D.J. Augustin in a bit of a funk

Augustin is a combined 2 for 24 in the last two games, and ironically, one of those makes was a half court heave last night. His three point shooting has dropped off the Earth, but there are two things I like seeing from Augustin despite this poor shooting spell.

First, he doesn't look scared out there despite shooting the ball fairly horrifically. Second, his passing and play making still looks very solid. Hopefully D.J. can keep his confidence up and his shot will come back to him tonight against the Warriors.

Joakim Noah might just lead the Bulls in assists this season

Noah presently has a 43 assist lead on both Augustin and Hinrich for the season. If he were to finish the season with the most assists on the team, he'd be the first center to do so since David Robinson (or so they said on a recent telecast).

When you think about it, that's really an incredible feat. I'd be curious to see how many centers ever led their team in assists in a season, but I'd imagine that number is very small, and since we'd be going back to Robinson, it's obviously very small in the modern era of basketball (possibly just Robinson and Noah).

That said, while there's somewhat of a uniqueness to the stat. A big part of it is a lack of a PG. There are 29 seasons with a center had higher assist per game numbers than Joakim is having this season, but a combined nine players make up those 29 seasons as well.

When you consider that Noah doesn't have the dominant low post game most of these guys had to draw double teams and create open looks, it makes his assist numbers look far more impressive. He's not not just passing out to a guy shooting a jumper more times than not.

The guy who's most interesting on the list ahead of him is Brad Miller. Noah recently thanked Brad Miller for helping him improve his passing skills from the elbow, something we've Noah do quite well recently. Miller's a guy like Noah who racked up a lot of his assists due to great passing rather than great offense.

It's quite possible that Joakim is a top five passing center of all time when you consider actual court vision and play making ability. Guys like Chamberlain and Jabbar have lots of appearances on the list, but they had far more touches per game and simply drew double and triple teams due to their own scoring ability. I wouldn't say either had Noah's court vision though with Chamberlain it's simply my speculation as I didn't watch him play.

Buy out candidates aren't coming, but if they were, it wouldn't be Ben Gordon

The Bulls don't seem likely to add a buyout candidate as they want to ensure their place below the luxury tax. A solid move given the state of the season even if the risk of Taj making first team defense is miniscule.

That said, it hasn't stopped reports of the Bulls being interested in virtually everyone out there. I suppose that's the way reports work. What I do find amusing is that no such report exists for Ben Gordon whom may fans would be interested in.

It reminds me of an anti-most interesting man in the world commercial.

We don't always bring in buy out candidates, but when we do, they're not Ben Gordon.

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  • We've come a long way in the last five years. Now you're actually taking shots at Ben Gordon?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I'm not taking shots at Gordon, I'd love Gordon as a buyout candidate, because I think we need the offensive punch and shot creation.

    However, I've just noticed we're linked to a lot of guys, but not Gordon.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Come on Doug, even you can get over your man crush on Gordon to see why he is the last player that the Bulls would bring in/back. The Bulls hold grudges and don't being back guys who left under bad circumstances. Never mind that it is a dubious as to whether most fans would welcome Gordon back. I'd say at this point those who would are in the minority. and who wants to open up the stupid Hinrich(white guy) vs Gordon(black guy) debate again.

  • Respect for The Captain...

    Hinrich is obviously not the most athletic player, or a great offensive threat, and he is definitely injury prone...but last night, with his effort and veteran experience, he basically sealed up the win for the Bulls. Kirk certainly gets his share of criticism, so I think it only fair he gets some love for his performance last night.

    Well done, sir!

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    Kirk seems like he's played much better recently in general. His shot has looked better in recent games off the top of my head.

  • Yeah, it's strange, because Ben Gordon is one of the few buyout candidates who said that HE WOULD BE AMENABLE TO A RETURN TO THE BULLS. http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/outside-shot/Chicago-Bulls-Ben-Gordon-Charlotte-Bobcats-NBA-Free-Agency-232508661.html

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    He better be amenable to a return, because his other options are Turkey and China.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Eh, I doubt Gordon goes unsigned next year if the Bulls pass on him (which they certainly will).

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Doug, your man-crush on Ben Gordon simply will not abate, will it? You wrote his name 7 times in your blog and comment posts. Mr. Gordon's chances with Bulls ended years ago - it's over, permanently. Mr. Gordon's chances anywhere in the NBA are nearly as over now as well. Sorry...

  • My disappointment in the Bulls FO grows and grows each passing day. I understand it is tough to rebound from the D.Rose injury but the Bulls decision to cling only to the stay-below-luxury tax strategy has shot this team in the foot both long-term and short-term.

    The right decision to this season after the Rose injury was to trade pieces for the express purpose of tanking to get into the lottery of the best draft since '03. That means trading Deng, releasing Augustin and maybe trading Taj or even Noah. Instead the Bulls only trade Deng for the purpose of getting under the luxury tax and watch the team bum slay the East into contention.

    Then, watching their team become a top 4 playoff team in the East (and thus getting farther and farther away from a lottery pick in this draft), the Bulls stand absolutely pat at the deadline, again clinging to the luxury tax threshold as its primary plan.

    The opportunity was there to trade Hinrich and maybe a 2nd rounder to a team who has cap space to absorb Hinrich's full contract and open up the opportunities to pick up Buy Out candidates. Heck - if we're trying to make a playoff run might as well give this team a fighters chance. I know the chances to compete with Miami/Indiana with Rose out is miniscule but why not bring in Danny Granger, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Ben Gordon and see what happens. With this option, you stay under the luxury tax and give your team a fighters chance in the playoffs where one injury to a contender could change things. Instead, Bulls FO neither committed short term (adding pieces while staying under the luxury tax) nor did they commit long-term (tank for a draft pick and develop current players - Snell, Murphy, Teague).

    Zero vision, zero creativity and a very one-tracked plan to get under the luxury tax - and even this plan has us embarrassingly and unprofessionally do the 10 day contract dance through the end of the season.

    Now all we hear is the possibility of Mirotic coming over (or maybe not) and amnestying Boozer (or maybe not). Thats what we got to look forward to... and our 2 first round draft picks which looks like it will be #16 and #22. That will get us two more role players... Joy!

    When will this FO be held accountable and be called out for the farce that they are.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    Trading Noah or Taj just to tank would have been assinine. Not signing Augustin and just playing Teague would have made some sense, but even as a tank proponent, I have to admit that I've enjoyed having Augustin on the team and look forward to hoping that he stays with the team next year and beyond. Trading Hinrich who will likely not be a Bull next season unless he is willing to accept a minimum contract would have been acceptable, and maybe even trading Dunleavy for a first would have been acceptable. Doing all of that probably doesn't get you into the top 5, does it get you into the top 10, or do you just miss the playoffs but fall in the 10-15 range. Is that worth the effort, or lack there of.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    I would like for them to have dealt or even given away Hinrich because he has no value to the team moving forward, but everyone else you mentioned does. Why get rid of them? The lottery would have given a lot of hope and excitement, but the reality is that it was unlikely to net the Bulls the type of impact player we've all been clamoring for ever since Rose got here. In fact, it was unlikely to net the Bulls better players than Noah, Taj or Dunleavy going into next year (eventually maybe).

    Add to that, it's nearly impossible for a team with Thibs and Noah to tank hard enough in the East this year. Dunleavy is a useful asset moving forward, why give him away just to lose more games? If there was a first to be had for him, they probably would have dealt him.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    I agree with your zero vision theory, I wish that the FO would share whatever thinking or plan they have with us--hopefully it would be a plan beyond worry about paying a luxury tax--especially when the Bulls can simply write it off as a business expense. I just feel for Noah and the rest of the rotation players--they must feel that they have no help on the way while trying to win every game for Thibs. And now it's really too late to even tank for the rest of the season--and Thibs and Noah would not even allow that.
    So I wish that the FO would arm this team with Granger or someone and at least another center--so this team would have a fighting chance in the playoffs. And you are right again about enabling them to have some dignity while in a fight and who knows what could happen if a key player on Indian or Miami gets hurt--a door would open with an opportunity for our Bulls. They would at least have a bench and more of a fighting chance.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    I'm starting to read Bulls believe they can sign a buyout player and still remain under the luxury tax for this season. So maybe FO will try to bolster the roster a bit given how hard they are competing. Most likely they would let the 10-day contract player expire.

  • I'd actually love to have Ben Gordon on the min salary....he is the only Bull. outside of Derrick Rose, who's been willing and capable of scoring points in big situations.....not sure why you don't want him, unless you're content scoring 80ppg.....

  • In reply to Dajody1:

    Because he's not a good player.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Tell me another player we've had since Jordan retired in 1998 that has been a better scorer / clutch player, outside of Mr. Rose. Don't you even dare give me Luol Deng.....

  • In reply to Dajody1:

    In case you haven't noticed he just spent 5 years on some of the worst teams in the league, and not only could he not start for either of them, he couldn't even get off the bench for most of that time, can you spell DNPCD? That tells you what he is now, who cares what he was 5-10 years ago. I would not be shocked if his NBA career is over. Enjoy the bank and the beach Ben.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Sour grapes, huh? He played on two horrible teams, and I'm sure he wasn't engaged.....put him on a good team with a solid foundation, something tells me he'd start producing again.....you don't FORGET how to play basketball and he's 31, not 41......

  • Can you believe that Noah is already 29, and Taj is joining him later this year. We are not a young up and coming team anymore.

    Looks like Augustin has a bit of a Miami defense hangover, hopefully it won't last too long and he can get his confidence back.

    Taj with his daily bone head foul of the jump shooter out past the 3 point line, he's neck and neck with Hangdog in this category.

    Deng, then Butler, now Dunleavy, does Thibs know that the guy is over 30?

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