Bulls plow through Magic without Rose

Bulls plow through Magic without Rose

The Bulls notched two impressive feats with a victory last night. Chicago set the record for fewest points allowed while Tom Thibodeau became the fastest coach to 100 wins. I’m sure the partying is still going on today, or more than likely, they’re simply thinking about the Raptors.

With the win, the Bulls maintain their one game lead in the loss column over Miami and finish out a light week with a home and home against the Raptors on Wednesday and Saturday. Hopefully Derrick will be ready to go soon, but the Bulls shouldn’t (and won’t) rush him back. Not with the team playing as well as it is without him [and hopefully even not if it was struggling].

Chicago’s got an eight game lead in the loss column on Orlando, so the rest of the season is squarely about the Bulls winning the #1 seed against Miami as only the most improbable of finishes would put them at the #3 seed or worse.

How did the Bulls set a franchise record for fewest points allowed?

It starts with great defense. Chicago did all the little things right. They forced turnovers, kept Orlando off the offensive glass, ran the Magic off the three point line (7 fewer attempts than normal), and forced them into difficult shots.

They played well enough defensively to win this game regardless, but the record was also set by some horrific shooting. Dwight Howard did a nice job on offense, but the rest of the team couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean. The Bulls did a nice job limiting Orlando’s three point attempts, but the Magic had plenty of open threes that simply didn’t go down [though worth noting even if they hit 10/20, they’d have still lost by eight].

It was an impressive display for Chicago on the glass as well, limiting the Magic to a mere 10 offensive rebounds on 44 misses despite Dwight Howard manning the paint. Chicago also got a little help when Dwight needed to take an extended early rest due to foul trouble [though he still ended up playing 41 minutes, so it didn’t ultimately do much to his playing time].

How does Dwight feel now?

After a couple of big emotional wins over their biggest rivals (Chicago and Miami) leading up to his decision to opt in next year and thus remove himself from the trading block, the Magic have now fallen to pieces a bit. They lost to Miami two nights ago only to fall to Chicago without Rose the next night.

Orlando still has the inside track on the three seed though as Philadelphia is falling apart just as fast, and Orlando can take some solace in the fact that Chicago also just beat Miami and Philly without Rose as well.

Who’d have thought this for John Lucas?

I remember thinking after the missed free throws against Denver last season that it would be Lucas’s lone contribution to the Bulls. I didn’t think he’d ever get the opportunity to redeem himself, nor did I think he was capable of grasping it if he did. I figure if Lucas played we’d simply be hoping not to get destroyed while he’s on the court.

Yeah, not so much.

John Lucas has flat out won the Bulls three games this season, two of which came against Chicago’s biggest rivals in the Eastern conference. He can be up and down like all shooters, but he’s playing with what Bill Simmons calls “irrational confidence”.

I was never too hung up on whether we brought Lucas back or Mike James or some other third string point guard, but I figured we kept Lucas around due to his familiarity with the system and strong practice habits. Apparently, we also kept him around because he can play bad ass point guard in small stretches as well.

I’d say Lucas is channeling good Pargo, but he’s doing it at a high enough rate that it’s an insult to make the comparison. Sure, every other game you probably get something lousy from Lucas right now, but he’s shining in the big moments when Chicago needs him most. He’s knocking down his threes at a 41% clip while taking a bunch of pretty tough threes.

I feel good for Lucas, because he’s earned himself a roster spot next season. For a guy who came into the season as an emergency 12th or 13th man who’s never had significant playing time in the NBA, that’s among the best things that can happen.

Don’t rip C.J. too much

Watson has struggled with his shooting (and in general) the past few games, but I’m not too down on his play going forward. He’s been fighting through an ankle sprain that he probably wouldn’t play through if Rose were healthy. When a guy plays hurt, we applaud his toughness, but when he plays bad hurt we often throw him under the bus.

Well, when you’re hurt, it’s really, really tough to play as well as when you’re not. Despite a fairly horrific night by Watson [an 0-8 I’m sure he’d like to forget], I’m happy that he’s out there giving Chicago effort and playing through pain while Chicago tries to keep up the pace with Rose out.

No, I don’t think he’s lost the backup PG role when everyone is healthy either.

Carlos Boozer would love to play Orlando every night

Carlos Boozer simply shredded the Magic again. When the game was still in doubt [like the first 8 minutes or so], Boozer made shot after shot for Chicago and kept it up all night long. He also ended the scoring drought in the third quarter where Orlando appeared on the cusp of making a run.

Boozer stepped up tonight and gave the Bulls the scoring they need while Rose is on the bench. Great job by the most criticized Bulls player.

I’ve heard the question asked if Boozer plays better with Rose out of the game. I haven’t looked up the stats, but my speculative guess is no. He’s had plenty of lousy games with Rose out, and the types of shots he’s taking aren’t a whole lot different. Even if he was better with more consistent touches, the amount better is no where near enough to change the Bulls style of play to accommodate him when Rose is healthy.

Bigs playing big

Dwight Howard scored efficiently, but Noah and Asik limited his volume to a mere 18 points and many of those came from offensive boards or broken plays. Dwight simply wasn’t a big factor in the low post this game.

Noah struggled through a four of 12 shooting night but still managed to get the six shooters out once, and continued his trend of making quality decisions passing the basketball. You know who has the second most assists on the Bulls this year? Joakim Noah. I wonder if there’s another center in the NBA who can say that, but I suspect not.

Asik didn’t play huge minutes, but I felt he was very effective when he was in the game, particularly on the glass. I love the way Asik plays Howard as he never backs down on the guy and plays him physically.

Avoid the let down game

Last time the Bulls had a big win against a rival, they came out flat, especially defensively, the next game against a weaker team. The Bulls face the Raptors on Wednesday in a game which should be relatively easy as long as they don’t fall into the same trap again.


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  • Can John Lucas transcend the chucker role to be a consistently winning assett for the 2012 Bulls?

    OK Is John Lucas for real? Is JL3 in extremely late bloomer who can have a 'shining moment' season or two? Someone who people saw something in, but never got an opportunity?

    The paralell I immediately drew with Lucas was John Starks. Why? Not because they both share the same first name. And not because Lucas is a borderline psychopath as Starks clearly was.(as were many of Riley's punks, uh players)

    Starks started really producing numbers wise at 26-27. Lucas well he's 29-30. Starks had terriric hops, JL3 not so much. But both were/are peppy slashers who can take you off the dribble, and hit the pull mid range J, or use the threat of the drive to can open three's with a quick release.

    It may sound silly for a guy his age, to look back at his college shooting stats. Many guys with elite athletic gifts(speed not hops in JL3's case) develop their shot in the NBA. But Lucas nonetheless shot .373, .391, and .431 on nearly 7 three attempts per game. He also averaged five assists one year in a major conference - the Big 12.

    Can anyone think of a player who at 29 began making a notable offensive contribution with quality play in the NBA? Lucas is shooting .413 from three. His field goal percentage in his three high volume scoring games has to be 45% or better.

    Maybe at best he's an every other game guy who when you see he's on and he's the offensive spark plug you let him do his thing. He certainly has the confidence which is huge(except in games where he's not on it's delusional and hurts the team).

    For John not be a circus show, but a legit pro, he and Thibs need to recognize he's not always going to be 'on' aka a shooter/scorer. Why can't his energy, and ability to penetrate be used every night inlcuding night's where his shot is not on. The threat will still be there if he knows when he's not on, and doesn't become a true chucker. He's basically quick enough off the dribble if he's played fairly tight to penetrate, and dish to the open man off rotations or doubles.

    If he quits chucking when his shots not on, then he becomes a bigger asset and a major momentum builder as Butler has shown signs of.

    I just hope Butler gets more minutes because you just get the feeling he can provide some energy defensively and in transition with steals and good ability with the ball in the open court. He's even shown some offensive instincts around the basket, and his shot to me certainly does not look bad..His college three shooting and free throw percentages were respectable. His play begs more minutes on some nights(Lu 43 minutes last night.)

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Great post RoadWarrior. Very thoughtful analysis.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Agree on Deng. We should continue resting Rose as well, which it sounds like they're gonna do. We have today off, then play in Toronto, then TWO days off, then Toronto again at home (with the Raptors on the second night of a back-to-back). No reason Rose should even consider taking the court until the Nuggets game at home a week from today. Full additional week of rest, with an option for more.

  • Doog, you're wrong. Boozer really plays better without Rose. Like you, I haven't checked the stats, but it's obvious. Boozer is more fed when Rose is out. Rose hasn't learnt yet how to play with Boozer. Boozer should take at least 15 shots per game since he shoots at 55%. Boozer has to take a lot of shots in order of having his confidence back.
    I liked when he made 2 baskets in front of Howard. That's what stars do : scoring against the best defenders.

    That said. The revelation of yesterday is Lucasinsanity !! That guy is more and more impressive. In my opinion, JL3 should be Rose back-up whereas Watson will replace the SG position. I mean JL3 can wipe off his defender and make a jump-shot. In other words, he can create his own shot. He must become our Barea late in the fourth quarter. He should also played a lot with Rose on the floor to avoid Rose being double-teamed.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Boozer can't create his own shot at 55%. He can shoot 55% when he's shooting open jumpers that other people get for him, but he's frequently terrible when the team goes to him in isolation. As such, the Bulls can't just up his shots and still get quality efficiency.

    Boozer should take all the good shots he can get, and the Bulls should swing the ball to him whenever he's open, but they can't just create more looks for Boozer and generate more success IMO.

    I can't see the Bulls playing Watson at SG in the playoffs because all of our likely playoff opponents will have too much size. However, against smaller teams, I think it would work well.

  • While I'm glad to see JL3 playing so well as of late, I'm not holding my breath. Come playoffs, teams are going to shorten their rotation, not to mention the potential teams the Bulls could play. His height will hurt when trying to defend in the playoffs. Maybe JL3 plays a few spot min to try and provide a spark, but I just can't see him defending well for long periods of time.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    Did Baréa's height hurt in playoffs ?

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I'd say Barea is a better player, and he got hot at the right time. He's not nearly the same impact player in Minn then he was with Dallas. That's not to say JL3 can't be useful (I think he can), but I'm trying to be realistic and not overhype him.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    Dallas used Jason Kidd, Terry and Barea against Lakers, OKC and the Heat in the playoffs. The Bulls have a much better version of those guys in Rose, CJ and JL3. Off-course, we don't have a Nowitzki(biggest issue).
    Barea was actually getting more to the basket rather than shooting ridiculous jumpers like JL3. But, I don't see why JL3 can't be as good as Barea and if he shines in the playoffs...probably will make some money.. We have seen the Bulls offense get very stagnant and the traps, zones Miami will set will need a few ridiculous shots from JL3 to change the momentum.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Totally agree.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I'm not sure what the comparison is for, but Terry shot an insane clip from beyond the arc in the playoffs which helped stretch the defense tremendously. Kidd is no slouch either, he's still got good vision. Of course Rose is better, but I'd say all of them played better than CJ. Again, I'm a little confused at what exactly you're trying to compare.

    Again, I hope JL3 can continue playing at this level, but some of the shots he took over the last few games are not going to go in consistently (ie that insane floater over Lebron, as sweet as it was). Who knows, JL3 could be a momentum changer if used in spot minutes, but I don't see how the Bulls could keep him on the floor for extended periods of time during the playoffs (those min will go to Rose and no way Thibs uses a backcourt of Rose/JL3, they would get abused by taller SGs).

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    JL3 has had some incredible games. imo, either he is hot or not.
    If he's on that night, ride him for a while. But if he is not making his shot sit him, as he doesn't seem much of a distributor.

    But I think Bulls can manage his minutes and find spots for him. As Deewaves mentioned he can create his own shot, which Bulls lack very much.

    What a surprise JL3 has been!

  • In reply to Edward:

    I would agree. JL3 has done some really nice things, but his style of play is pretty 'meh'. He doesn't move the ball much and tends to over dribble and run down the clock then take tough isolation looks.

    I think he's an excellent shooter when he gets quality looks, but because of his size, he often doesn't get quality looks if teams put a press on him.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    a miniature Ben Gordon, or a midgets midget.

  • I would just add that I breathed a sigh of relief every time Chris Duhon was on the court. Don't get me wrong, I love his hustle and his attitude and I'm very happy he has managed to carve out an NBA career for himself as a quality backup PG. I was a big fan of his when he was on the Bulls. BUT - I was worried at times that - ya never know - the Magic would suddenly start getting hot from beyond the arc, but with "Du" in the game I just felt that that was one less shooter to have to worry about. Well, I just looked up his 3-point percentage on Basketball Reference and I'm very surprised to see his career % is 36% and 42% this year (albeit with only 86 attempts, which isn't bad for your backup PG). I guess my memory is failing me but when he was with us I just remember him as being pretty worthless from 3 point land. I guess he wasn't nearly as bad as I remember - percentages of 36%, 36%, 36%, and 35% as a Bull.
    My other comment, and here I guess I betray my ignorance to some extent of the "inside game" in the NBA, but even though Noah and especially Asik as noted really made Howard have to work for his points, he was still 8 for 12, so why on earth do you not keep feeding this guy down low trip after trip down the floor?? I mean, I know we worked hard to deny him position, but let's face it, once he had the ball down low unless you took a hard foul (and despite our depth you only have so many fouls to give from your big guys) it was all over. Especially when, as Doug put it, the 3-point shooters couldn't throw the ball in the ocean?? I agree, if I was Howard I would be thinking "what the hell have I done by resigning with this bunch??"

  • In reply to MadTown56:

    What did you think of Keith Bogans last year? Chris Duhon was the PG version of Bogans. Bogans also had a good percentage, bu tyou wouldn't call him a shooter because he'd only shoot if no one was in his zip code. Duhon was the same way.

    Both guys killed spacing on the floor because you didn't really need to stay near them because they were scared to shoot, but both guys shot a decent to good percentage because they knew their role and knew what shots were in their range.

    As for Howard, a lot of his makes were on plays the Magic couldn't really replicate, but on junk plays where he just used his freakish size and athleticism.

  • Frankly, I don't find JL3's outburst surprising in the least. He looked great in a couple games earlier this season when he got big minutes, especially in that Washington game where he tore it up and came reasonably close to a triple-double (28-8-8) and we won even though he took a lot of shots. It's always been clear that he's a willing and able shooter, and he's virtually guaranteed to get double digits if you give him 20min on the court. The big thing right now is that he's showing his stuff against top-tier teams, but that's only happening because Thibs trusts him more and has been forced to play him in high-level situations. Check out his numbers. The games against Miami and Orlando are the ONLY times he's played over 11 minutes against elite teams. Usually he's under 10min, and the times he's played more have been against middling and awful squads. He's our JJ Barea and always has been. Now he's just getting the chance. The key, in the future, is to follow Carlisle's lead and use him in the right spots.


  • In reply to bzoooty:

    It will be interesting to see if the Bulls carve out a more regular role for Lucas with everyone healthy. I still kind of see him as the odd man out, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Bulls let CJ go next year and keep Lucas.

  • I'd like our frequent visitor, Juicebox Jerry, to followup on that observation he had of Stacey King's twitter response to Joakim Noah's spectacular dunk which had an Orlando magic defender rolling around like Patrick Ewing when he tried to block a Scotty Pippen dunk!

    Here's what Juicebox Jerry wrote on our neighboring blog:
    " Best Bulls dunk since Taj in game one last year, right?
    I sure as hell don’t remember being that hyped for a dunk in a while.
    " And I don’t know about you guys, but I am really not likng Stacey’s “Facebook” line. Feels SOOOOOO forced, and awkward."

    Let me say here and now that having seen that dunk, I think Stacey owes us fans an explanation or an apology. Not even an Orlando play-by-play guy can be forgiven if after seeing that dunk he called it "forced and awkward."
    I followed Stacey's college career when he was at Oklahoma and won that national championship with Nolan Richardson's superb team, but after that career highlight as a college player, Stacey King was a bust on the pro level when he was taken by Chicago, and for him to describe what has become a SportsCenter highlight reel dunk as "forced and awkward" is the sort of comment that makes one wonder if he harbors some sort of resentment towards Noah. He should spend more time being truthful in describing plays, instead of being a buffoon hollering that unoriginal line, "too big, too fast, too strong."

  • In reply to SlamDunk:

    I'm pretty sure Juice Box Jerry was referring to Stacey's comment, "Does anybody know how to post videos on Facebook?", as forced & awkward, which I agree with. Seems after gaining some recognition nationally last year, that King is really forcing it. Don't like the end of the game "Drvie home safely, beep beep" one either. He's trying to hard.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I guess I read his comment wrong. Sorry about that.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Interestingly, King has grown on me more and more as I listen to him. Before his lines felt repetitive, but over time they feel like catch phrases instead.

    I personally love the drive home safely line ;)

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I agree, I like King better now that we know him better than I did in the beginning. While he clearly has a schtick, I think that it is a reflection of his true personality. Probably why he was a really good(fun) teammate but not much of a player.

    I actually like the facebook line when a guy delivers a particularly good facial.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Doug & Bigway, I do love the King too! Great personality, love the way he calls the rest of games. Just feel like some of his catchphrases are forced. Just be yourself Stacey.

  • I agree that Boozer should get 15 shots in a game but you can't blame it all on the pgs, since he doesn't always fight for good post position and he is horrible at setting picks. Also sometimes derrick will get him the ball and he will pass it out. I don't know how Deron Williams perfected the picknroll with the phantom pick but he did. That's the biggest thing missing in Chicago's offense, the chemistry between Rose and Boozer in the picknroll and post position passing.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    In Utah, Boozer was not a low post scorer in the sense of dump the ball into Boozer on the block and let him backdown his defender. THAT IS NOT WHO BOOZER WAS OR IS. He is undersized at PF and now in Chicago he has lost part of his hops. So his game is very matchup dependent.

    Boozer scored in Utah from receiving deft passes from Deron Williams on cuts to the basket as Boozer freed himself from his defender - and the pick-and-pop more than pick-and-roll. Now, Boozer's game relies more on the pick-and-pop than the roll because he cannot finish at the rim as well due to lost hops.

    So Bulls need to recognize this and get Boozer more open 17 footers off of ball movement, screens, etc. Feeding Boozer more in the post is not the answer - because he is not a backdown low post scorer.

    Boozer's jumper makes me remember when Deng shot over 50% and was deadly from mid-range. I believe that was under Scott Skiles.

  • I have to agree that Rose and boozer do not play particularly well together. For one Rose is not as good of a pure point as Williams, looking for his own offense first, for the most part. Second, boozer couldn't set a proper pick if his life depended on it. Like everything else he does on the court, boozer sets a "zone" pick, i.e. he is in the general vicinity but not actually stepping up and putting a body on somebody.

    I cannot say for sure what he was in Utah, just didn't watch him enough. It is clear that today with the Bulls he is a one trick pony, "The Colonel", of KFC fame, he does one thing(well) and one thing only, shooting wide open mid range jump shots created for him by others.

    I don't know if it is the rest of the teams responsibility to "get" boozer more shots, or if he just happens to get more shots against teams that don't play playoff caliber defense. My sense is that it is more of the latter and that we will find out in the playoffs again, especially against the Heat, assuming that we get there.

    The fact of the matter is, that at this point in the season, one could reasonably argue that John Lucas has won more games for the Bulls (I'll go with Doug's #, 3) than boozer has.

    As Edward pointed out, boozers success or lack there of is likely more dependent on matchups than on his individual prowess. Which does not bode well for the playoffs, when the matchups are less likely to be favorable than they are during the regular season.

  • It's interesting thinking about Boozer's offense being more effective without Rose on the floor.

    Does he get more touches at a consistent rate? You'd have to think so. Does his jump shot and pick and pop leave the lane more available for Derrick? Is that partially why he doesn't attack the basket on face ups or mid post spin moves which he is capable of?

    You can say his game is primarily a jump shooter, but with 20-21 ppg on mid .500's field goal percentage that would make him one hell of a shooter in his Utah days.

    Obviously he scored the basket in the Utah 'Flex?' offense with back cuts, and a more pass oriented PG in Deron Williams who ran the old John Stockton classic Utah pick and roll pretty well.

    All I know is I sure enjoyed watching him scoring on the break, and driving past Dwight Howard with a baseline shimmy move like he was not even there. If Boozer's scoring rises while his field goal percentage stays in the mid to low .500's it will be interesting if the Bulls change anything in regards to how they use Boozer and the number of Derrick's atttempts.

    Clearly Boozer's scoring is effected by the fact that he plays less minutes, 29, now then his mid 30's with the Jazz. Does his mindset as the primary scorer allow him to get into more of a groove, and see his offensive game expand to more forays to the basket and an inside game?

    It is an interesting question IMO in regards to what we need against Maimi, hurt them with a big as in Boozer with inside scoring, and why he was brought in in the first place.

  • Strangely though, Boozer was doing the spinning moves on Dwight and posting up a couple of times yesterday albeit on Ryan Anderson. He struggled definitely against the Lakers when he was Utah. It might be the quick/better hands of a defender hurt him more or a more accomplished jump-shooter on offense translates to bad offense on his part like Bosh, Gasol, Amare etc..
    It is not like we had Chris Paul playing yesterday compared to Rose. CJ was struggling big time doing anything with his injury and JL3 is all about chucking. Maybe Boozer mentally is gone when he has a better option like Rose or if he knows that his defensive game is in big trouble that night because of somebody like Bosh

  • Well I have looked at the stats for Boozer without Rose:

    54.2% FG vs 53.3% season
    78.8% FT vs 73.1% season
    17.3 PPG vs 15.5 season

    The percentages are close enough it's a couple of shots made or missed, no big deal. The big difference is really the points per game which is just a result of getting more shots.

    I'd say that there's no strong evidence Boozer plays better without Rose ... but he certainly doesn't play worse, which puts a dent in any "superstar makes team mates better" narrative for Rose.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Exactly like I said above, Rose has to feed Boozer more. His FG% is too high to attempt less than 15 shots a game.

    But it's also coach fault. He has to let boozer more on the floor. 30 min per is barely enough for him.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Boozer's FG% is high but he barely gets to the line making him less of a productive scorer than his FG% would indicate. Overall he's only about as efficient as Rose himself, which suggests they're getting the balance about right.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    True his fg% is high enough for you to think he should have more minutes, but you can't forget what his defense gives up. He gives you points, but his defense also allows the opponent points. Thibs is obviously a defensive coach, so he naturally would rather score less points in order to give up less points. But when boozer has it going, or a favorable matchup, it should be exploited.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    I don't think that there is an any superstar make his teammates better theory. In fact it is usually the last thing that a great player acheives, if he ever does, and is usually only recognized once he wins. Jordan fought that image for years, until the championships started raining down.

    Rose is clearly not at that point yet, he is still a guy who can go off on his own, or give up his offense to let others have theirs but not do both at once, yet.

  • really, one comment at 3 in the morning(Chicago time) is too fucking fast for you, get a bigger faster server.

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