The Bulls walked into Toronto for a game against the Raptors, beat their asses 110-93, and walked out. The news Joakim Noah will be out six-to-ten weeks dominated the night.
The Raptors suck with their leading scorer, center Andrea Bargnani. He was out of Wednesday's game with sixth man guard Jose Calderon against the Bulls in Toronto, therefore the team would resemble shit on a bad day if I were so inclined to insult shit.
The Bulls (16-8) beat the hell out of the CRaptors (9-17) 110-93, building a 21-point lead in a 40-point second quarter in a game where they never trailed that became a 29-point lead. Eventually, the 17-point blowout was in the books extending the Bulls' winning streak to seven.
Derrick Rose played with a sore right forearm and a minor sprain in that wrist. His legs were fine and he could pass accurately, but nothing violent at the rim and the shooting stroke was almost non-existent.
The Bulls went to their easy button on every possession they could. Hell, when the help was in the zip code, the ball went down low to Carlos Boozer and he lit up every Dino that was thrown at him. He had his fourth double-double of the season -- the 278th of his career -- finishing with 34 points on 13-for-17 shooting and 8-for-11 on FTs, while grabbing 12 rebounds.
"I told [Boozer] to get 40," Rose said after the game. "You can ask him. Before the game I told him to get 40. I knew it was one of those nights where my arm wasn't right. I knew my passing was going to have to win the game.... they have some small bigs and he's big. He's a bully out there. That's what he did tonight."
The best came later, when he added: "If he would have just hit his free throws, he would have had 40."
That said, if Rose did his maffmatix, 34 + 3 = 37, not 40.
There really isn't much to break down. The Bulls attacked constantly and controlled the pace, only forcing ten turnovers, but out-rebounded the CRaptors 47-37. That was enough to run the floor for 23 fast break points.
- The Bulls played more like matadors on defense, despite the blowout. Toronto just simply couldn't finish well to make up for their anemic rebounding. If the Bulls took better care of the basketball and executed something-less-than-sluggish of a transition-D, the CRaptors don't get 32 fast break points and shoot much lower than the 44.2% they did.
- The 14 Bulls turnovers were mostly facepalm inducing. Luckily, the Bulls pounded the paint and didn't settle for jumpers, shooting 53.1% and 7-for-18 on threes because Toronto rarely attempted putting hands in faces.
- Rose playing serves a nice, "gritty, grindy toughguy" narrative, but should've sat out. He finished with six points on 3-for-9 shooting and 11 assists. He was 0-for-2 on threes, as four of his points were fast break points on his two steals. Some passes were definitely worthy of the highlight reel, but he was responsible for five turnovers in a game he had no business playing hurt. He was held to only 29:37 of PT and that would've been less if
C.J.Randy Watson doesn't burn through two fouls in the second quarter.
"Gritty" and "grindy" is for slow, out of shape athletes who strain themselves achieving mediocrity. Not the franchise player against the friggin' Raptors in December.
He controlled the pace very well and fed through Boozer without forcing options without reason. The job of a point guard above replacement level at least.
- Luuuuuuuuol Deng was mostly undefended and had a nice shootaround with the cardiovascular workout. He finished with 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting -- 3-for-6 on threes. Noticing early the shot wasn't falling, he attacked the basket with little interference and found his stroke.
- Joakim Noah played with the knowledge it'd be his last for weeks and that's overwhelmingly stupid. Reports he'd need surgery were released during the game and he played 26:13. Sure, he had an 11-11 double-double on 4-for-6 shooting and 3-for-4 at the FT line, but WTF?!? Just sit out and don't turn it into serious bone damage on top of the torn ligament.
- Where was John Paxson to limit Noah's minutes as he ordered to Vinny Del Negro last year after the plantar fascitis recovery? Orders which were not followed and Pax threatened to punch VDN for it. I know Thibs is a rookie head coach, but that's a bad non-move.
- Can we send a Xe unit to search for Taj Gibson's jumper? Variance is kickin' in and he'll be playing starter-type minutes without Noah in the rotation -- if not actually starting. If that jumpers not happenin' for a while, I really like the way he's attack with his back to the basket and driving through the paint.
He's also boxing out better and continuing to block shots. He finished with only six points on 3-for-11 shooting, but had four blocks to go with six rebounds. He got blocked twice and had two turnovers, too, but putting the ball on the floor is still looking better than his J as of late.
- The Bulls continue to be brick-tastic on charity shots. Getting to the line 24 times is fine. Bricking seven has become a pattern that might soon require an intervention and institutionalization.
Noah-less Bulls rotation
The Bulls are expected to announce Noah's surgery during a press conference at the Berto Center Thursday and the surgery is expected for the morning.
The Bulls next play the Staples Center Red Team at the United Center on Saturday. The Clippers are still without Chris Kaman, so starting Boozer at the five with Taj at the four to attempt being in Blake Griffin's vicinity should be fine.
Kurt Thomas and John Lucas III were inactive with Brian Scalabrine dressing Wednesday. Expect Thomas to dress Saturday, but the Bulls have been using a ten-man rotation since Boozer returned and were using a nine-man while he was hurt.
Boozer seems fine with starters minutes night-in-night-out, so I wouldn't expect James Johnson to enter the rotation unless Omer Asik or someone else goes Foul Machine. Scalabrine could be a defensive replacement, as he is Thibs' security blankie.
Bear in mind, Thibs has grown a lot of confidence in Deng at the four against non-extremes like a Tim Duncan:
The Pacers (11-13) lost to the Lakers (19-7) in Indy and the Bucks (10-14) lost to the Spurs (21-3) in San Antonio thanks to a killer stepback game-winner by Manu Ginobili (that might've been a travel; either way, great game). The Bulls extended their Central Division lead to five over Indy and six over them Deer-Not-Yet-Completely-Feared.
The win in Toronto also puts the Bulls a half-game in front of the Magic (16-9) for third in the Eastern Conference, remaining 1.5 behind the Heat (19-8) for second and four behind the Celtics (20-4) -- both of whom won Wednesday.
Right now, I wouldn't panic. Besides the Knicks on Christmas Day and the Celtics on Jan. 11, every opponent through Jan. 14 is pretty terrible.
Stats via NBA.com.