Observations from last night

Observations from last night

Depending on how you look at it, the Bulls picked up the biggest, or second-biggest, win last night against the Thunder with Derrick Rose turning back the clock with 29 points. And really, this is where we have to start. Because Rose, after all, still plays a huge role for this team and him finding any type of traction is that can separate the Bulls from being a middle-of-the-pack team.

More than the shot-making last night, I liked his confidence. When he caught rhythm, he understood that it had to be milked and he would routinely get himself involved in the offense, and separating himself from defenders, while launching mid-rangers, floaters, and on occasion he'd ignore the talk of separation and simply go to the cup to make something happen. It was refreshing.

Now, I'm not jumping on the whole "He's back" wave as the national media seems to do every time he looks like his old self for one game. Rose being the player he once was is a thought we should probably forget, because he isn't going to be that guy. He's going to be something else, maybe even someone else. As the injuries have piled up over the years, Rose's lack of interview moxie have gone the other way. He's honest, maybe to a fault sometimes, and whereas before, when his game did all the talking and soundbits were hard to come by, he's the opposite way today. That's why these games mean more. When he suddenly finds himself in the featured role, and delivering in it, there's this feeling of him somehow backing up his own constant claims of confidence.

Yesterday's victory didn't only give us all a glimpse of that, but it gave us a short-lived sense of validation in the sense that Derrick, for all that's happened, is still capable of taking over and showing us why he was once the MVP of the league. Just don't expect it to be a theme, because it won't be. That's not being harsh, but rather painting a realistic picture of a player who isn't that guy anymore, except for the few times here and there when he actually is. It's confusing.

Moving on to Jimmy Butler, and it's pretty clear what he is right now. A fringe MVP-candidate. The ball-handling, the security with the ball in his hands, the confidence in his shot, the aggressiveness in going to the hoop, the defense, the do-it-all mentality.. I mean, this guy is turning into an elite player right in front of us. I had serious concerns that he'd drop off after defenses got a chance to zero in on him, but instead, he's taken that challenge and come up big. If Rose can just squeeze out a bit more of what he provided last night in a continuous basis, he and Butler would more often than not look the way they did last night, albeit on lesser volume.

Also encouraging was the effort on defense. The lane was closed off, guys rotated, the defense on both Durant and Westbrook was physical, and the Bulls generally answered the call whenever Oklahoma City went on a run. If the Charlotte game gave them a wake-up call, I'll take that blow-out.

And McDermott is now a starter. Or, well, part-time starter. Fred Hoiberg will go to him depending on match-ups and situations, which is a theory that's been kicked around in the comment sections here and there, and one I agree with. While his 9 points in 23 minutes were sort of problematic in the sense that McDermott didn't provide enough defense to cover for a low-volume shooting night, giving him a chance to start against Durant is one of those development steps we've all longed to see.

Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah had some throw-back moments last night, in shutting down a few OKC sets, and connecting on an alley-oop on the other end. They're a long way from being where they once were collectively, but Taj seems to have regained a lot of explosion, which is necessary moving forward. Noah, in his own way, has found a way to contribute. He's begun forcing less shots, and focusing on the Rajon Rondo-aspects of the game, in doing everything else. His numbers are by no means impressive, but he looks better than they indicate. Last night, Noah led the team with a +16 ranking, and do while being somewhat invisible offensively.

I'm politely going to ignore Nikola Mirotic, because I'm in a good mood. But I will mention he's been off for three straight games, and I'm counting the Orlando game here. One can only imagine how these Bulls would look if Niko joined the Rose and Butler party.

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  • Nice read.

    I would disagree on Niko for this game. I'm not suprised he struggled against Ibaka and taking shots he normally wouldnt and missing shots he normally wouldnt. But he has to find some sort of rhythm if we want a chance to contend. Or he has to be benched.

  • Derrick had a massive game in terms of his progression, but ultimately it's only 1 step in the right direction. It was especially refreshing coming off his couple of stinkers.

    Jimmy was awesome, especially early on. His 3 ball is looking smooth right now as well.

    I think what made it enjoyable was that it felt like an old-school win - Jo, Taj were getting things done, and Rose closed out strong. I'm excited to see Jo/Taj locking down once they really get going.

    Oh, also worth mentioning Kanter for helping us with his horrible defense, and how bad Charles Barkley was during that broadcast. Turrible.

  • In reply to GimmeDat:

    I think Kevin Harlan was the play-by-play guy but you wouldn't know it. Having to listen to Barkley shoot his mouth off for almost three hours is truly revolting.

    But what can I say? Apparently, Barkley amuses people and provides TNT with high ratings. So I'm in the minority here. I miss the days when guys like Doug Collins or Steve Kerr would actually be informative about the game that is being played in real time.

  • In reply to GimmeDat:

    Yep, Barkley has no business being at an actual game, he just keeps repeating the same 2 or 3 opinions a dozen times each during the game, providing almost no insight to the game itself. He's fine clowning around with Shaq in the studio show, but please keep him there. Pretty much anyone would be better than he is, and there are plenty of quality guys available that already do NBA games.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I forgot to mention that we all, somehow, survived with Chuck on the sidelines. I'm impressed by that, because if his commentary didn't invite self-infliction, I don't know what does.

  • I have not been a fan of the Mirotic/Gasol tandem for the obvious reason of not providing enough defense. Gasol/Taj and Noah/Mirotic pairings seem to provide better balance. But it seems like Hoiberg is trying to figure it out. Unlike the previous myopic oaf who use to run the team and would lock in on a starting lineup for the whole season. Remember Keith Bogans starting a whole season at 2 guard?

  • I felt that Portis could have taken Taj's spot in the lineup last night with no falloff. I guess they are playing Taj more to raise his value for an eventual trade.

    No doubt the Bulls would have lost this type of game last season, especially after the first third of the season. It was good to see the bench get decent minutes. In fact, the bench outdid the Thunder's bench last night, which helped buy the W. Earlier the bench looked terrible at times.

  • Good game, but it's time to trade Kirk Hinrich or buy him out and make him a Bull's coach. The team now needs another pg that can be an assist guy (a focus) giving Rose a break and getting players involved in the offense when Rose is not on the court. Brooks is great for instant offense but he doesn't seem to get other players into the offense. Lin on Charlotte may be too expensive and unavailable--but, there has got to be someone out there they can add to the team. We like Hinrich and he is an asset--but, no longer the player he was as pg/sg.

  • Teams are giving Mirotic open 25 foot shots realizing his low percentage of making those shots. He never seems to come in for a 15 footer or even closer shots that would increase his shooting percentages--he doesn't seem able to create his own shot--nor able to play any defense and almost never works on getting an assist or playing team ball.
    This team should not be dependent on long jump shots alone and by players playing one on one with no defensive perspective and abilities.
    McDowell is basically the same with a low shooting percentage and no defense. Sneel plays better defense, moves the ball to other players--but, is still not aggressive enough. Maybe that will improve with playing time--but, Mirotic has been playing professional ball for over 4 years and does not seem to recognize how to play defensively or make good shots choices.
    I'd like to see a trade of Mirotic, Hinrich, McDowell ($10,000,000.00) traded for an experienced small forward or for another point guard who can assist players in getting into the offense and spell Rose. .Hinrich could be bought out and made a coach because of his past successful play with the Bulls. The FO must make a trade decision before Mirotic and McDowell who are basically the same player have no value in the league.

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