Bulls win behind defense and rebounding

Bulls win behind defense and rebounding

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.

Beyond that?

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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  • Didn't watch the game but watched the highlights. Few observations about the team.

    1. For some reason, it seems like when Dunleavy's release is faster, his fg% is better. When he release his shots really slow, it never goes in.
    2. Hinrich has been playing better the last few games. One thing coach needs to tell him is he is a decent spot up shooter but terrible off the dribble shooter ( i think because he moves side way when he does that) He really should limit his off the dribble shot.
    3. What happened to Roy Hibbert? He just stopped developing? also how come he never averages more than 30 mins a game

  • Nikola is going to be a stud and potentially the next Dirk Novinski for the Bulls. He is so crafty for his size, which makes me wonder if the Bulls had succeeded trading him and McD for Love. The Bulls dodged the bullet on this one again as I believe Nikola will be better than Love. With an entire summer and adjustments to his 3 point shooting, Mitotic is on the path to become an All Star next year.
    And for this reason and the additional core players the Bulls have, I believe the Bulls can be a contender for the near future.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    I am a Bulls fan who has lived in the NY city area for many years now. I have seen so many marginal NBA talents pass through the Knicks organization and heralded as future HOFers by Knicks fans after just a bit of success (see Jeremy Lin as most recent example). I have always thought that Bulls fans were a bit more disciplined in their talent evaluation. So it with that as background that I caution against all this Mirotic is going to "become an All Star next year" stuff.

    While it would be nice if true, and if it comes to pass you are welcome to come back to this site and ridicule me all you like, I certainly wouldn't bet the house on it. He is off to a good start, but the rest of the league has good players and good coaches who learn how to shut down players once there is enough tape on guys to understand their weaknesses. To be an all-star one generally has to be a team's number one offensive option though the Bulls seem adept at producing some exceptions the last few years (Deng, Noah, Butler, Gasol) and IMHO Mirotic is a long, long way from being the Bulls or any team's first option, and if he were to become that he would then start drawing better defenders, against whom I think he would struggle.

    Maybe 3-4 years down the road he is an all-star if he can develop his skill set, but I highly doubt it happens next year.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    I don't know that Mirotic is an all-star next year either. He has many things to improve on. He's the best European player I've seen in quite some time.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Better or worse than Kukoc, now or in the future?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Niko is just a rookie and putting better numbers than Dirk's and Love's rookie year. I wouldn't trade Niko for Love today. And I am also betting that Niko will be a top 10 player in 3/4 years. That's just my own humble opinion.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think if he can get stronger, he's going to be a stud. I feel eventually you could run the offense thru him, not afraid of the moment.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    I don't think that anyone thinks that he will be an all star next season. However, his low end looks to be at least a Deng type all star(or Noah for that matter), and his high end could be legitimate starting caliber all star. It really depends on how much room he has for continued development, or is he mostly already what he is going to be given that he has already played professionally for some time.

    How will he fare when he becomes a starter, thus regularly playing against the best opposition. I think that as teams figure out his game, we could see teams defending him with their SF, or best wing defender. That could create problems for him, since he hasn't looked good at all when playing SF.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bullsdynasty does. That is to whom I was responding.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    Wow does a year change things. Last summer people were writing that Niko could be better than Love and I was laughing, stating that Kevin Love is a top-10, possibly top-5 NBA player and that Niko was unlikely to ever reach that level.

    Now, I think Niko has the potential to be a top-10 NBA player, I really do. With regular minutes, the rookoie is putting up 20 points per night as the team's go-to scorer. Which other rookies are doing that?

    I also no longer think as highly of Love as I used to, nobody does.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Roman F:

    Love is in a place along w a coach who doesn't know how to use his skill set to its maximum production ability. It also doesn't help that there are a lot of me first shoot first players on the team like JR. and Kyrie.

    Regardless, I believe w some strength and a little better feel for the physicality if the NBA game, NIKO will become a top 15-20 player in this league.

    If he doesn't win the rookie of the year award, they might as we'll not give it out anymore

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I agree, Niko should win rookie of the year. To me he's a lot more polished than Wiggins and nobody else even comes close other than Parker but he's been out for the season so that's a mute case.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    it might be moot also.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    That's why some of us were against including Mirotic in any Love trade, and had some doubts about whether or not the Bulls should trade for Love. and right now 3 point shooting is one of the worst parts of his game. He actually needs to work out with McDNP this summer to fix his 3 point stroke.

  • as much crap as garpax get, they did get Butler and Mirotic in a single draft where they only had the #30 pick. Two future all-stars. And they play hard, share the ball, and do the little things on the court to win games.

  • In reply to piggy7:

    Bulls had picks 28 and 30 in the 2011 draft.
    28 was Bulls own pick,
    30 was Miami's pick via Toronto (Chris Bosh trade) to Bulls for the James Johnson trade.

    Bulls traded 28 plus a 2nd rounder and cash to move up to 23 where they drafted Niko. 30 was Butler.
    YES, a great draft, indeed!

  • In reply to piggy7:

    Yea, that was their Pippen, Grant draft.

  • Gar/Pax seem to be good at the little things. Finding talent when there appears to be none. It's the major moves they always seem to drop the ball. Sometimes under the circumstances it appears they made the best move possible and didn't have many options but over the years they have had options aplenty. For instance the Ben wallace and Carlos Boozer signings. In both of these cases those two were the biggest names out there and in both cases these guys were in position to be overpaid. It's made even worse the fact that we didn't even need them but gar/Pax took them anyway out of desperation. The best thing they could have done in those instances is stood pat. These were times when we needed to develop Tyrus Thomas, Taj Gibson, and even Noah still. And we already had veterans like Kurt Thomas and PJ Brown so why bring in guys thats going to hog up development time? now were at it again but to a smaller extent with Gasol. Once Gibson comes back Mirotic will be right back to 10 minutes a game when truthfully gibson should have been starting this year with Niko as his back up. That's just my opinion.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    That is the scary question, WTF will Thibs do with Mirotic when Taj comes back.

  • fb_avatar

    Good piece Doug!
    The Bulls shooting won this game. That and Joakim getting into West head.
    When the Bulls shoot well it opens up all sorts of opportunities for them. Rebounding improves, lanes open up, and offensive sets run smoother.
    One of the better coaching jobs I've seen from Thibs in a long time too. By playing Nazr, and Kirk more Thibs was able to reach deep into his rotation and the players seemed to play with energy on both ends of the floor despite several Bulls getting into foul trouble.
    Depth is the key for the Bulls. It takes a lot of energy to hustle on defense, and when energy is down their shots usually fall short.
    My hope for the Bulls moving forward is to keep playing a deep rotation in order to maintain strong defensive pressure, and rebounding, as well as hitting the open shot.

  • As has become common lately

    First and Third quarters, Bulls 49, Indy 49
    the Gasoline quarters

    Second and Fourth quarters, Bulls 54, Indy 37
    the Noah and Mirotic quarters

    Who is the better offensive player, Gasoline or Niko?

    Who is the better defensive player, Gasoline or Niko?

    Who is the better defensive center, Gasoline or Noah?

    Who says no first to this trade?

    Gasoline and Gibson for Adams and Kantor

    I say both teams say no, OKC because they are smart enough despite supposedly going hard at Gasol in the offseason, and the Bulls because they aren't smart enough to even conceive of it.

  • I thought DRose was a really nice talent, but I also thought he was being ridiculous when he claimed that he could win the MVP. And he did.

    When Jimmy Butler was drafted as the last pick of the first round back in 2011, I thought the Bulls was getting a backup wing that would be lucky to become a journeyman in the league. He's an All-Star and is probably the best Bull this season.

    Now, I can see Nikola Mirotic is a really good player and probably have ceiling comparable to Dirk Nowitzki. But I'm still somewhat skeptic that he'll be able to reach it. I'm hoping to be proven wrong again.

    I don't mind to keep eating them crows.

  • In reply to Gaga83:

    While he may or may not become Dirk, go back and look at Dirks rookie year stats, 8 ppg, 3 rpg, 40% fgp, 20% 3ptfgp, 77% ftp. He doubled his scoring and rebounding in his sophomore season with much better shooting across the board before becoming all star Dirk in his 3rd season.

    Niko is beating Dirk across the board and ascending, except in fgp at 40% just like Dirk. However, Niko entered the league at 23 and turned 24 in February. Dirk was only 20 during his entire rookie season, so he was more like a college player without the years of pro experience that Niko has.

    Going into the season I thought he'd be somewhere between Kukoc and Dirk. Is he better or worse than Toni right now? I'd say he's already looking like he will be better by next year, and his play since Taj went down is at least as good as Toni's best years.

  • While I agree that Snell contributed on the boards last night(and more so lately) and that he knocked down a couple of 3's, I don't see how you can say that he made an impact on D last night. I hate to say it, but did you watch the game, or just some highlights(or the boxscore). Why is it that everytime a guy(usually one who is not a great defender) contributes on offense (think boozer the past 4 seasons), everybody suddenly thinks that his defense is better.

    He made some atrocious mental blunders and was slow footed and trailing his man most of the night as usual. Just as an example, in the first quarter he was the only Bull on the right half of the court(the weak side on this possession) guarding Miles away from the ball. As the Bulls always do(Thibs defensive principle, I guess) leaving his man he dropped down into the lane, but instead of just putting one foot in the lane, he crossed over into the other side of the lane and got buried behind several big men(bulls and pacers). Naturally the ball swung around to Miles in the corner for a wide open 3. Not only did Snell not make it over to contest the shot, he couldn't have gotten out of the lane without a bulldozer.

    Snell is neither smart enough, athletic enough, or awake enough to be an impact defender. He might be getting the 3 part of being a 3 & D guy, but certainly not the D part. He is simply not a plus defender, not even close. Its really hard to say that he is even adequate. Maybe if you put Hangdog's grittiness in Snells body you'd have something to hang you hat on.

    Again, for what its worth, Gasoline and Snell were a combined plus 13 last night(in a 17 point win), while the other 3 starters were a plus 44 and Niko alone was plus 21. Even the corpsedog was plus 16, while riding Niko's coattails.

    Thank God for Niko and Dunleavy last night, and the fact that Indy was no where near the team physically and energy wise that they were in Indy last week.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Thank God for Niko in general. With Rose and Butler out, he's clearly the team's best scorer, even better than Gasoline.

    To respond to another of your posts, someone needs to make sure the Bulls go with Noah-Niko a majority of the time from now on and most importantly, to close games. For $7 mil, it's great to have Gasoline to back up Noah, as you never know when Noah might go down or how many productive minutes you can get out of him. Gasoline would be best as a weapon off the bench, because he's a helluva weapon. He can want to start and finish and he might pout a bit if he gets benched but ultimately he'll be a pro about it or trade his ass. Otherwise Taj becomes expendable, trade him this offseason.

    In the meantime, I think even Thibs is probably persuaded to put Niko on the court to finish games when Taj comes back, but I suspect it will be at the 3 rather than not use Taj.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree with you that Thibs will likely use Niko at SF when Taj comes back, we can only hope that it works better than it has so far.

    As for Gasoline, I just don't see him ever accepting not starting, maybe in year 3 of his deal, maybe. Otherwise, he will be a sneaky if not outright pain in the ass, kind of like he became as a Laker over the past 2 years. He likely could do some serious damage against second stringers offensively and maybe wouldn't be quite as horrific defensively against the lesser talented subs.

    I really would be perfectly happy if he played the entire first and third quarters and not all in the second and fourth. He basically puts up more than half his production in the first quarter right now anyway. I bet if he knew and accepted only playing those 2 quarters he would still put up the same numbers, heck his selfish nature might even kick in more and he might score a few more points, which wouldn't suck.

    Thibs please boozerize the KKP prior to the playoffs, pretty please.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Here's your answer, direct from the @ss's(in mean horses) mouth

    Thibs on CSN

    “Niko has great ability to play the 3, that allows us to play Pau, Jo and Niko,” Thibodeau said. “Hopefully we get a few guys back soon, and that will be even better for us,”

    didn't he say pretty much the exact opposite early in the season?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Finally, if Thibs is going to play Niko at SF then wouldn't it make more sense to do so with Noah and Taj at C and PF, rather than Gasoline and Noah.

    Gasoline, Noah and Niko means all 3 front court positions are compromised defensively.

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