The Chicago Bulls are coming off a scrappy win on the road againt the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. Forward Luol Deng contributed 15 points and seven rebounds, with point guard Derrick Rose chipping in 14 and 11 assists. Center Joakim Noah even stood his ground againt future hall of fame center Shaquille O’Neal.
Tonight, the Bulls will be home at the United Center to take on Gerald Wallace and the Charlotte Bobcats. Wallace is leading the league in rebounding at 14.8 per contest, though he has just two assists total for the year.
Chicago will be without forward Tyrus Thomas. This time for 4-6 weeks, as Thomas suffered a fractured radius on his left forearm during a weight training session Friday morning at practice. Rookie forward Taj Gibson will start in the place of Thomas for the time being. This could eventually mean minutes for the Bulls’ other rookie forward, James Johnson, selected 16th in the June draft.
The Bulls and Bobcats both come into tonights game with sub-30% shooting from behind the arc. Charlotte scores just 84.4 points a game but have an established defense much like the Bulls have had this season. The two teams have a lot of similarities, with the Bulls having the ace of spade in point guard Derrick Rose, who during the last two games has scored over 10 points in the final quarter. Rose, hintered early on in the year by a sore ankle, is according to Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro improving game by game.
Over the course of the summer, Charlotte agreed to trade forward/center Emeka Okafor, the franchise’s very first draft pick, to New Orleans for center Tyson Chandler. Head Coach Larry Brown admitted the trade was made due to financial aspects, and have according to reports, already bumped heads with Chandler. The nine-year veteran is struggling from the field and gives up a lot of weight to opponents defensively. This should give Bulls center Joakim Noah an opportunity to have a big impact, given his larger frame and superior energy.
Bulls guard/forward John Salmons will face defensive specialist Raja Bell, which doesn’t project to be the opportunity to raise his .296% shooting from the field. Salmons has struggled initially with his move to shooting guard, and has seen his efficiency descend dramatically. The Bulls are hoping to see Salmons shake off his struggles and be a factor sooner rather than later. Over the first five games, the Bulls are scoring 87.6 points, which is a far cry from the 102.2 they knocked down last season.