The Chicago Bulls won the toughest remaining game on the schedule, a road contest against the talented Minnesota Timberwolves. However, with the Timberwolves missing Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, a bit of their bite was missing.
The Toronto Raptors held serve with a home win over the Philadelphia 76ers, so the Bulls and Raptors are still tied up at 46-32 with four games each to play. To come out of tonight still tied is a victory for Chicago though given that the Timberwolves were the biggest hurdle left on their schedule and the home game against Philly was likely the easiest game left on the Raptors schedule.
Hot three point shooting kept the Bulls alive in a lackluster first half where the Bulls were dominated on the glass and went through a couple deep cold spills. Despite a poorly played half, the Bulls managed to hang around, and the Timberwolves only took a five point lead into the half.
Joakim Noah came alive in the second half.
Noah hadn't had a near triple double for four straight games and decided to end that streak by recording one tonight. His passing was truly brilliant as he hit cutters for open layups all night long. Sometimes you get assists by just touching the ball, but tonight, Noah did a great job of making precise passes through traffic for easy buckets for his teammates.
The Bulls started off in a huge rebounding hole against the Timberwolves, but Noah's second half effort on the glass helped to stop the bleeding and gave the Bulls a big second half advantage on the glass which helped allow them to pull away. He was aggressive with his offense as well getting some key buckets for Chicago.
D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich were both hot from the field combining for 37 points on just 23 shots to drive the offense. They did plenty of their damage in the high efficiency zones, knocking down six threes and hitting numerous other shots at the basket. When the Bulls get this type of offense out of their PGs, they become very difficult to stop.
Bulls sign the canary
Mike James will sign with the Bulls today providing another body at PG. To some, this signals the end of the Derrick Rose come back hope that some fans are still holding on.
To me, it signals that the Bulls don't feel comfortable through Jimmer Fredette out there at PG. Personally, I'd take my chances with Jimmer over James, but I can't imagine why the Bulls need a fourth PG if Chicago felt the same way.
Tom Thibodeau relentless holds on to players even if the rest of us think they stink. My guess is whether or not Jimmer would play better than James that Thibodeau lobbied to bring James back because he feels more comfortable.
The Bulls may also have felt they owed James a favor.
Lou Amundsen also returns to Chicago
Amundsen did very little in his first stretch with Chicago, but the market for unsigned big men who are playoff eligible isn't all that deep.
The Bulls likely signed Amundsen for similar reasons to James, he knows the system (at least somewhat) and has some familiarity with his teammates. The Bulls could definitely use an extra big man just for the fouls in some situations, but odds are that Amundsen never plays a meaningful minute.
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