The Chicago Bulls, for one night, appear to be back in the circle. Chicago led by as many as 25 against the Spurs and had little problem doing whatever they wanted on both ends of the floor. After the game, Rose responded to questions about Thibodeau with full support saying the team would do anything for Thibs and none of the problems related to him.
The win started with Derrick Rose. He attacked the paint, taking most of his shots inside. He lowered his three point attempts, but still knocked down two of the four he did take to continue his trend of hot shooting beyond the arc.
The two days of rest may have really helped Rose in terms of what he was able to do physically, though the fact that San Antonio wasn't going under every screen daring him to shoot more probably didn't hurt either.
The Spurs mostly played Rose straight up, and Derrick straight up killed them for it. That's a great sign for Chicago, because Derrick showed when you don't respect him like a star player that he's capable of hurting you like a star player.
We'll see what happens the next time a team consistently plays under the pick or traps it a bit. Derrick hasn't had great answers for that recently, but didn't have to find them this game.
Beyond Derrick playing like a superstar and setting the tone on offense, he put his money where his mouth was on defense where he was very active both on his own man and in helping his teammates. Derrick Rose has a reputation as a poor defender from his first couple seasons.
Under Thibodeau, Rose had started to become one of the best defenders at the position in the league, but his reputation hadn't caught up to the work yet. We saw a glimpse of that guy yesterday.
Derrick proved he can do it for a night on two days rest. The challenge will be to come back and do it again tonight against Dallas, and to do it most nights throughout the season and playoffs. We know the Bulls have championship upside when everyone is dialed in, the question is can they get that level of play with consistency?
Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol both had strong, efficient games. They combined for 29 points on just 15 shot attempts. Gasol had a great rebounding game against a pretty big San Antonio frontline, and the Bulls won the battle of the boards, something which they've struggled with recently.
Along with Derrick Rose living in the paint, the Bulls rebounding effort was one of the biggest positives of the game for Chicago. The Bulls had Taj Gibson play more aggressively with his defense and roaming in an attempt to limit Pau's defensive responsibilities.
Taj did a fine job of it defensively and really gave the Bulls a huge boost on that end even if it didn't really show in the box score. The result was Pau staying closer to the basket, getting rebounds and contesting shots he's better at contesting.
The Spurs didn't attack Pau as much as other teams did, and the Bulls found an answer for his lack of quickness for at least one night. When Noah comes back, I'd like to see the tandem of Taj/Gasol play with Dunleavy some to see how that lineup looks.
While the Bulls haven't been overly successful with Noah out in this recent stretch, I wouldn't mind seeing Noah come off the bench in his return for awhile [or even permanently if it goes well].
Tony Snell into the starting lineup
Kirk Hinrich had started in place of Mike Dunleavy the past couple of games. That was somewhat of a disaster. Snell replaced him last night and while he still shot the ball relatively poorly [0-6 from beyond the arc, and someone thought this guy was a shooter coming out of college?], he gave the Bulls a whole lot more of everything else.
He's longer, more active, better on the glass, and offers more defense than Hinrich at this point. Hinrich really has little left in the tank, and it'd be nice if the Bulls used him as an emergency player rather than a heavy rotation player.
That said, Tony Snell hasn't been consistent enough to like a whole lot more either, but he has definitely put together some solid play the past few games while getting more opportunity.
Nikola solid, but minutes limited by Nazr
Mirotic only played 15 minutes but gave the Bulls a really solid effort in those minutes. Thibodeau decided Chicago needed some toughness, so he gave Nazr Mohammed some minutes. I can't say I'm so fond of how that worked out.
Mohammed was the only player on the Bulls with a negative +/- at -6 in his nearly 10 minutes. Mirotic has been solid throughout the Bulls struggles and hasn't looked like the problem to me. His defense is a work in progress, but his effort is always there and he has frequently sparked the team with his offense be it on drives or shooting.
Hopefully the Bulls will discontinue the Nazr experiment and get Mirotic's minutes back up.
Doug McDermott finds the floor, with the scrubs
Well we answered the question about whether Doug McDermott was able to play. He came in with Cameron Bairstow. Given how awful Kirk Hinrich has been recently and how inconsistent Snell has been overall, it would have been nice to see Thibs just give him a shot in one of the past couple games.
As it stands, Dunleavy will likely return in the next couple games and any chance for McDermott to find any real minutes will have gone by the wayside. It looks like a dead year for him.
Overall, big win
The Bulls brought it on both ends of the floor. The crushed a quality team to bounce back from what has been a pretty rough stretch. They showed fans that they have what it takes to contend when they're at their best.
The question now is simply whether they can bring that "best" with any level of consistency.
Filed under: Uncategorized