In the past two losses, Chicago was destroyed on the glass. Last night, they managed to contain Indiana on the boards and rolled on to a fairly easy victory. The Pacers closed on the Bulls a few times, but Chicago always responded and rebuilt the lead to double digits.
Early on it was all Dunleavy
Dunleavy scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half including all five of his threes. He got the Bulls off to a fast start with his shooting and helped them build that big second quarter lead which would last the rest of the game.
It was vintage 'hot' Dunleavy. He seems to have one of these games every four or five games or so where he becomes a dominant shooter and scorer for the team. It's certainly related to how defenses cover him, but when he gets hot he starts shooting on the move better as well.
When Dunleavy gets it going like this, and the rest of the roster is healthy, the Bulls become a near unstoppable force. Unfortunately, he can't consistently channel his inner Kyle Korver which is perhaps one of the big things separating the Bulls from the Hawks.
Nikola Mirotic carried us home
If it was all Dunleavy early, it was all Mirotic late. His shooting was a bit off (1/7 behind the three point line, though one of those was a half court heave), but Indiana simply couldn't stop him off the bounce.
He repeatedly took his man off the dribble and finished with layup after layup. Mirotic is tough once he gets a head of steam driving inside. With his size he's difficult to stop, his finishing has improved, and he draws plenty of fouls.
He had one great drive for a dish to Gasol which was either worthy of his and1 mixtape, though to be honest, I think he simply lost control of the ball and recovered well to make it look smooth as hell.
When Mirotic fully adjusts to the NBA three point line and gains some experience, he'll become incredibly deadly. He's about the bazillionth big European player to be compared to Dirk, but he's the first one I've seen that actually looks like he has a chance to get there.
Joakim Noah moved the ball like he was playing end of last season. He threaded the needle on a few passes to rack up some assists. He also owned the glass and had a solid game overall.
Tony Snell had one of his high quality games where he made an impact defensively, on the glass, and shot the ball quite well to provide some efficient scoring.
Pau Gasol was solid down low and gave Chicago some efficient scoring while Aaron Brooks couldn't hit the broad side of a barn but made his way to the free throw line enough to compensate for it and have a nice night.
The Bulls overall held the Pacers to sub 40% shooting, killed them on the glass, and destroyed them from the three point line. That's more or less the difference. It was the type of game the Bulls want to play. The only question is whether they can play it consistently.
Joakim Noah receives NBA Cares Assist reward
Joakim Noah received the NBA Cares Assist award last night for his work creating a non-violence initiative.
The video he debuted awhile back can be seen here:
I love the fact that the Bulls frequently have guys winning these types of awards. Luol Deng was a great ambassador of the game of basketball while he was here, and it's great to see Noah honored for his good work as well.
Many players all around the league are very active in giving back to their communities, and I think it's great how caring the players really are on the whole.
Kyle Lowry left game for Raptors
Kyle Lowry his game against the Timberwolves with a back contusion though the Raptors hung on to win without him. I'm sure more will be known about Lowry soon, but given he was immediately ruled out of returning from that game, I suspect there's some chance he'll miss (or be limited) the game against Chicago on Friday.
The Bulls remain a half game (in the loss column) behind Toronto for #3 and a half game ahead of Washington (in the win column) for #4.
Introducing Morten Jensen
If you're a long time reader of the blog back to the days before we were on word press then you might remember that Morten wrote for the site for around a year.
Morten is going to be back as a regular contributor and while be quite active next week especially while I'm off in Cancun getting tan.
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