The Bulls got their first win in three tries against the Bobcats to avoid a season series sweep. And it was decisive as it should've been.
The Bulls' (37-16) losing both earlier matchups this season to the Bobcats (24-32) were ugly, bad, lazy, etc. On Tuesday, the two met for the final time this regular season and the Bulls put together a well-rounded body of work at the United Center for a 106-94 win.
The win had little to do with the "revenge" the Bulls were outwardly seeking and all to do with them playing as well as their accumulation of talent should be manifested against a bad team. The Bobcats' defense has been average and they problems taking care of the basketball and Bulls won by disrupting Charlotte's defensive spacing, forcing turnovers, being aggressive for loose balls, and controlling the pace as the power fully shifted to the hands.
The Bulls sucked coming out in the third when the Bobcats turned the Bulls' 52-47 halftime lead into a tied game within four minutes. The Bulls immediately ignited a 12-0 run and never turned back.
- In a game of loose balls, the Bulls were unstoppable as they should be. They only grabbed a combined seven steals in the first two meetings with the turnover-prone Cats. The Bulls got nine steals in this win to force 14 turnovers that were converted into 20 points.
The Bulls crashed the boards hard for 11 offensive boards. Add in that they shot 50% and you have 18 second-chance points -- 14 in the first half -- that put the Bobcats away. Overall, both teams shot well and got to the line frequently, but the Bulls took the rebounding battle 38-30.
- The Bulls transition D was still shoddy and it made them pay 19 points for their 12 turnovers. The Bobcats actually outscored the Bulls in fastbreak points 18-16 for the game.
- The Bulls shot well and attacked very hard. Not only did they get up 30 shots at the rim, but got to the FT line. Unfortunately, they were only 17-for-30 (56.7%) at the rim, but went 23-for-30 (76.5%) at the line and hit 7-of-14 (50%) threes.
Bulls fans would like to see less than 22 shots at 16-23 feet from the basket, but there was a lot of pick n' pop working well, so they hit 12-of-22 (54.6%).
- Derrick Rose struggled, but he forced the issue and his teammates came through. 18 points and 13 assists isn't a bad night, but it doesn't take much to see his 5-for-14 shooting night as a rough game. What you like to see is that he didn't force dumb shots. His 3-for-5 night at the rim is better told by his 8-for-9 night at the FT line.
Best was him igniting breaks in transition off of steals and defensive rebounds. He called much better plays on the floor that kept his teammates moving to create off the ball and his timing was strong in finding them. His six turnovers were a result of falling into traps, but his 13 assists were the result of avoiding them.
- Hi, Luol Deng. Thanks for showin' up. Deng's had a tough stretch, but not for the lack of the ball in his hands. He's generally stayed very aggressive and Tuesday, the rewards were reaped. He scored a game-high 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting in 44 minutes.... Really, Coach? 44 minutes against the Bobcraps?
- Carlos Boozer's minutes are clearly being limited. And everything points to his defense. His shifts have been shorter because his defense is bad when he's fresh. Midway through shifts, it's just lazy waiting for rebounds. He played 30 minutes to mark his third-straight game under 35 minutes of PT -- sixth of the last nine.
No question he can score and grab rebounds, as he finished the game with 16 points and nine rebounds. He didn't finish well, though. His 7-for-13 shooting included 5-for-10 at the rim.
- Another strong game by the Bulls bench. Two of the five Bulls in double-figure scoring were Taj Gibson (11 points) and Kyle Korver (15 points), but Omer Asik's 30.3% rebounding rate on the game amounted to seven boards in only 15 minutes.
- Gibson had the hardhat contribution, only shooting 2-for-6, but getting to the line to shoot 7-for-10, grabbing three steals, and blocking two shots in 23 minutes.
- Korver had a night of fives. He just couldn't miss a shot. 5-for-5 shooting to score 15 points, hitting all three threes. Also, five fouls.... And he makes $5 million a year?
- No explanation for Keith Bogans, but it's working lately. Speculating that trade rumors are kicking him in the ass is presumptuous, but his nine-point night in only 19 minutes, going 3-for-4 on threes is encouraging. Oddly, he's in the lineup for his defense, but a loose glance can tell you that's not going so well. The problem, as I've noted, is the excess of help he's forced to show because Boozer's so bad on D. When Joakim Noah returns, we'll see the better Bogans D that we saw in November.
- Nice of MJ to show up for Kurt Thomas' milestone moment. "Big Sexay" became the 96th player in NBA history to play 1,000 NBA games. He scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in 27 minutes. He had issues with Kwame Brown earlier in the season, Brown was shut down to virtual nothingness and Nazr Mohammed is, well, Nazr Mohammed.
- OK, MJ was there to be Scottie's valentine. Sure, he owns the Bobcats, but don't tell me these magic moments weren't anticipating every morning the two lovebirds looked at their calendars lately:
- Thibs' victory cigar was lit in the final minute. Yes, Brian Scalabrine played 55 seconds and earned a trillion. James Johnson could've had that trillion in his first game since being called up from a two-week D-League assignment, but had to brick his only shot.
Before All-Star Weekend, the Bulls host the NBA-winningest Spurs (46-9) on Thursday. Though Tuesday's win elevates the Bulls to 24-4 at home, I'm not sold on optimism for the next game. A win isn't impossible, but a generic 'just play hard' is good enough for me. A win would be a bonus.
Also: Paul Silas will reportedly be named the Cats' permanent coach. He's 15-13 since replacing Larry Brown when the team was 9-19. He'll get another year, but his bosy isn't very stable. Kurt Helin has more.
For once, a coach gets an extension after losing to the Bulls this year.
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