Spurs Injury Report:
T.J. Ford: out 4-6 weeks (torn hamstring)
Manu Ginobili: expected to miss 2 weeks strained oblique)
Kawhi Leonard: questionable for the game against Chicago (strained calf)
Tiago Splitter: questionable for game against Chicago (strained calf)
Gary Neal: questionable for game against Chicago (sore hamstring)
The Bulls snuck out a hard fought win last night, stopping the Hornets when it really mattered, with two huge blocks and a steal.
After struggling for a win over New Orleans, one of the worst teams in the West (although a team with a lot of fight in them), Chicago has to travel to face San Antonio, one of the best of the West. Their 24-10 record puts them second in their conference, three games behind Oklahoma City.
Derrick Rose had a game high 32 points and nine assists against the Hornets, and it was also nice to see Rip Hamilton get off the bench and play the game of basketball finally(he was passing very well with five assists). Joakim Noah had a manly double-double of 15 points and 16 rebounds, while Luol Deng had 14 points and eleven boards of his own.
There may be some fatigue tonight for the Bulls, with big minutes from Deng (42), Rose (41) and Noah (39). Chicago is 9-2 with no rest this season, though.
And more good news: Derrick Rose killed the Spurs last year, averaging 37.5 points on 60 percent shooting to go with six assists (his highest point average against any team last season). In the second match-up Rose tied a career high with 42 points, to go along with eight assists and five rebounds.
Tony Parker didn’t too bad himself, averaging 23.5 points, on 57.1 percent shooting and 5.5 assists. This was tied for Parker’s highest average against any opponent. The Bulls and Spurs split their match-ups last year.
Parker is averaging 25.4 points and 9.2 rebounds over his last ten games. He’s averaging 19.4 points and 8.1 assists for the season.
Even though the Bulls might be a little winded, the Spurs haven’t played since Thursday, a win over the Nuggets. DeJuan Blair led the way with 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs.
San Antonio is the hottest team in the league right now. The Spurs have won 12 of their last 13, losing only to Portland in that time. During that stretch they beat the Thunder, Sixers, Grizzlies (twice) and Clippers, so they aren’t just beating up on bottom feeders, although they did their fair share of that as well beating the Hornets, Nets, Pistons, Raptors and Jazz. Nine of these 12 wins came on the road.
So the Spurs were just hitting their stride when the All Star break came. Could the days off slow the Spurs smoking hot stretch? Or will it help rest their older legs?
Well that might not come in to play. Even though the Spurs were just hitting their stride in general, they’ve been good at home all year. San Antonio is 13-1 at home so far, outscoring opponents by an average of 12.1 points. They only allow 89.4 points at home (tonight opens a seven game homestand for San Antonio).
Battle on the boards: The Spurs are one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the league, grabbing just 9.9 per game (28th in the league). The Bulls are tied for second at 13.2 offensive rebounds per contest. But San Antonio protects their defensive glass, coming in at second in defensive rebounding percentage (.757).
Chicago grabbed 15 offensive rebounds against New Orleans, and needed every single one of them to get the win. They’ll need a better overall showing; especially from their bench (the Bulls’ bench got outscored 39-18), but the offensive glass is always key for the Bulls.
Injury: The injury tables may have changed for the Bulls. While Chicago is mostly healthy, the Spurs could be without Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter
Despite being 8-26 on the year and only 5-12 away from their hive, the Hornets buzzed into the United Center and nearly knocked the Bulls on their championship-hopeful butts last night.
You have to wonder whether it should have been this hard. The Bulls were finally at full strength — welcoming back Rip Hamilton and C.J. Watson — and playing in a building where they’re 14-2. What’s more, Derrick Rose’s driving layup put them ahead 91-82 with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Less than four minutes and a 13-0 run later, the Bulls found themselves trailing 95-91.
Chicago’s offense was (as Charles Barkley might say) turrible during that stretch. Joakim Noah missed an 11-footer and had his shot swatted by Gustavo Ayon during back-to-back possessions. On their next offensive possession, Chris Kaman blocked Luol Deng’s jumper. Then it was Rose’s turn to brick a jump shot. Next Carlos Boozer had the ball stolen by Trevor Ariza. On the Bulls’ next trip down the floor, Gustavo stuffed Boozer. Boozer got the offensive board but missed the putback. Ditto for Noah.
It was ugly basketball, folks.
But, hey, that’s why teams have superstars.
Starting at the 1:15 mark, Rose and the Chicago defense took over. Rose drew a foul from Chris Kaman and knocked down both free throws to pull the Bulls to within two points. After that, Noah nabbed a bad pass by Jarrett Jack and finished the following offensive possession by tipping in a missed floater by Rose, tying the game. Twleve seconds later, Taj Gibson blocked a layup attempt by Gustavo. One 20-second timeout later, Rose and Noah worked together on a nifty play that ended with Rose hitting a very tough shot that bounced on the rim before dropping down the well.
Bulls by two.
Said Rose: “I take crazy shots like that in practice all the time, they just give me confidence to take those shots where they are looking for me. We work on that in the end of practice. I stepped back and tried to shoot the ball up as high as I could.”
Jack went on to miss a layup. Kaman was forced to foul Rose, who knocked down both freebies, and then Deng stole a bad pass by Ariza to pretty much seal the deal (despite two missed foul shots by Rose).
And there you have it. File this one under “finding a way to win.”
Said Rose: “We definitely held it together. Other teams I guess would have folded. We played toward the end I think the best defense we played throughout the whole game. We rebounded the ball, made great plays on the ball. … We gave ourselves a chance.”
Yeah, and that’s great and all, but should it this group have to give itself a chance against a team like the Hornets?
Said Noah: “Just because we’re the Chicago Bulls doesn’t mean that we’re going to win every game by 30. Guys are good. This is the NBA. We know that we have a ways to go. We have to play better to get to where we want to get to.”
Jo’s right about that last part. Especially with the Miami Heat steamrolling whoever they face right now.
Having a full roster should help. With Rose (32 points, 9 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks), Noah (15 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists), Deng (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Boozer (14 points, 7 boards) playing well and Hamilton getting worked back into the mix, the Bulls should get nothing but better.
Of course, watching the Bulls nearly get outworked by the Hornets was worrisome. Hopefully, it’ll serve as a wake-up call for their game against the Spurs tonight. Unfortunately, Deng (42 minutes), Rose (41) and Noah (39) all logged heavy PT against New Orleans. Let’s hope fatigue doesn’t decide how things unfold in San Antonio.
Hornets Injury Report:
Eric Gordon: out for tonight’s game
Carl Landry: out for tonight’s game
Emeka Okafor: probable for tonight’s game
Jason Smith: probable for tonight’s game
The second-half of the season is upon the NBA, and although the Bulls schedule is going to be tougher than their first 35 games, it starts off pretty easy tonight.
The Bulls, who are a half-game behind Miami for the lead in the Eastern Conference, take on the Hornets, who are second-to-last in the West.
Chicago and New Orleans played 20 days ago; a game the Bulls ran away with. It was also the game in which Derrick Rose left with his back injury. He would ultimately miss five games before returning last Monday. Rose played just 22 minutes in this matchup, scoring six points to go with five rebounds and six assists.
But he wasn’t really needed as Chicago’s defense did most of the work. They gave up only 67 points, holding New Orleans to 37 percent shooting.
Taj Gibson had a big game off the bench, scoring 14 points (7-12) and grabbing six rebounds. Carlos Boozer led all scorers with 18 points, while Joakim Noah notched another double, with 13 points and ten rebounds.
The Hornets didn’t play well in that game, but they’ve improved lately and have also been good against non-conference opponents.
Half of the Hornets eight wins have come in their last six games (4-2), and New Orleans is 5-6 against the Eastern Conference. That includes a win over Cleveland in their last game before the break. They’ve beaten Boston, Orlando, Milwaukee, New York and Cleveland, which isn’t actually a bad set of wins for a team that only has three more W’s on their schedule.
The Hornets had the toughest schedule (according to Basketball-Reference’s system) in the first half of the season. The Bulls on the other hand, had the easiest schedule (it is skewed because they can’t play themselves, but still).
New Orleans could be even better tonight, with the possibility of Emeka Okafor and Jason Smith returning to their line-up.
Chris Kaman scored 17 points to go with six rebounds in the loss in the loss to Chicago. Kaman has played well in the starting line-up in place of Okafor. He’s averaging 17.8 points and 9.0 rebounds in his starting role. His six starts coincide with New Orleans’ 4-2 record.
The Bulls may be getting some players back from injury as well. Rip Hamilton took contact in Monday’s practice, according to the Associated Press, and will be a game-time decision. C.J. Watson will return to action after missing two games.
The Bulls look to get their first win of the second half of the season, before leaving Chicago for a tough three game road trip against San Antonio, Cleveland and Philadelphia.
Farewell for now, Mike James: Mike James was once again released. In all honesty, he has played well, far exceeding my expectations. Considering how many injuries the Bulls have had this season, we could very well see James again. He averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 assists this season.
Stat of the night: According to Stats LLC, the Bulls are 19-2 when Carlos Boozer scores at least 16 points.
…for Bulls fans wanting to see their players and coach take center stage.
Derrick Rose played only 18 minutes — the fewest minutes of any starter on the Eastern Conference squad – and sat out the second and fourth quarters. He didn’t uncork any monster dunks or make any spectacular plays, finishing with 14 points and 3 assists in an exceptionally quiet performance.
Luol Deng’s night was even more silent than Rose’s. He played less than six minutes and finished with 1 assist and zero points on 0-for-2 shooting…both jump shots. At one point, Deng collided with Kevin Durant, falling on the floor and landing on his left wrist.
You know. The one with the torn ligament.
As for Tom Thibodeau, he was so driven that he coached most of the game from his butt (despite being a notorious stander/pacer) and his Eastern Conference squad gave up an All-Star record 88 points in the first half.
It was that kind of night. Rose looking like he didn’t want to be there, Deng looking like he didn’t belong there, and Thibs looking like he was thinking ahead to the Bulls’ next game.
At ay rate, between Deng’s fall and Rose’s cranky back, it’s not too surprising Thibs kept their workload light. No sense in risking his players in a meaningless exhibition.
More telling than their stats were Rose’s and Deng’s behavior during the pregame player introductions.
While his fellow starters — Dwight Howard and LeBron James in particular — clowned and danced, Rose stood as grim-faced and solemn as if he was attending a funeral.
Said Rose: “I’m just me. I can’t be anyone else. I can dance. But there’s a time and place for that. And I don’t think that it was then and there.”
Said Deng: “Wearing that T-shirt meant a lot to me, felt great. And I’m sure a lot of kids back home saw that and had smiles on their faces. That made my day. I just felt like it was the right time. I wouldn’t do something that is negative. If you look at the shirt, it’s not a logo of anything. I’m not advertising anything. I just felt like where I came from, it’s something I always wanted to see as a kid.”
And that, as they say, was that. Bring on the second half of the season.
The numbers: 13 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
It was the first triple-double by a Bulls center since Artis Gilmore had 35 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocked shots on December 20, 1977.
Yeah. I’d say Noah is back.
Said Noah: ”Obviously it’s a very humbling accomplishment. But we’re playing for more than that.”
All that and humble too.
If January was a tough month for Noah — and it was — February has been a revival. In 12 games, Jo averaged 11.3 PPG and 11.0 RPG while shooting a solid 53 percent from the field and fantastic 81 percent from the line (he went 7-for-7 on freebies last night). He’s also had five double-doubles.
What’s more: Last night’s 10-assists game bested his previous season-high of 7 from January 30.
Said Noah: ”The only reason I was able to do it was because they were trying to get the ball out of Derrick’s hands.”
Again with the humility. On the other hand, his teammates don’t have to be humble about Noah’s accomplishment.
Said Rose: ”He’s just like a guard, where he’s making great plays passing it to the corners.”
Added Luol Deng: ”For a big man, he’s great at making decisions coming down the floor. A lot of big men will get a little hesitant having the ball in their hand, but he’s comfortable with it.”
That’s the thing about Noah. He’s comfortable doing pretty much anything on a basketball court as long as it contributes to winning. Scoring, rebounding, passing, defending, even taking it coast-to-coast on occasion. He is, simply put, a complete player. Maybe not great in any one statistical category — if only because “desire” and “heart” aren’t included in box scores — but he is a classic “Jack Of All Trades” kind of guy.
The triple-double was only part of the story. Jo energized his team and the home crowd with hustle and effort…and demoralized the Bucks in the process. It was nearly enough to erase the memory of his zero-point effort against the Nets a few days back.
Said Carlos Boozer: ”He’s been a man child. You guys have seen the same thing I’ve been seeing. Dominating the boards, protecting the paint, passing the ball, scoring the ball, his offense has been phenomenal. Finishing every play. Obviously, great energy like normal. But he’s been playing like a man child.”
Speaking of Boozer, he and Noah have been playing much better together as of late, something that hasn’t always been the case. Carlos finished with a team-high 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting to go with 7 boards and 3 assists.
Having those two men playing well together is going to be absolutely vital come playoff time.
After all, it really is about the big picture with this team, isn’t it? We know they’re good. We know they’re going to win a lot of games. So the question is: Can they make it to the NBA Finals and win a championship?
The Bulls haven’t been healthy all season…and they’ve still been among the league’s best teams. And assuming Rip Hamilton and C.J. Watson are healthy and ready to go after the All-Star break, we could finally see this team start playing at full strength.
Things are going to get really interesting really soon.
Bucks Injury Report:
Andrew Bogut: out 2-3 months (broken ankle)
Drew Gooden: doubtful for tonight’s game (sprained wrist/sore knee)
Tobias Harris: questionable for tonight’s game (bruised shoulder)
In the last game before the All Star break the Bulls look to top division opponent Milwaukee, who they have beaten twice already this season.
Through all the injuries, Chicago is currently tied for second in the league. They’ve won games without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson…and basically played the entire season without their offseason pick-up, and supposed starting shooting guard, Rip Hamilton. It’s shocking that Carlos Boozer has been the picture of health for this Bulls team. They’ve proven a lot, but still have a long way to go in the second half of the season to reach the Miami Heat.
But before that comes into play, they have to take care of their last set of business before the break.
The Bulls once again bounced back from a loss (a very, very bad loss) with a solid win against Atlanta. It would have been nice if it would’ve been a dominating win, which is where it was going after the first quarter, but the Bulls and Hawks never want to put each other away.
Rose returned and scored 23 points after missing five straight games. He was a little rusty, going 5-9 from the line and 1-6 on shots from 3-15 feet.
Boozington played well, scoring 16 points on 7-13 shooting. Joakim Noah grabbed every rebound in sight, ultimately bringing in 16 of them (five offensive) to counteract his scoring struggle.
Josh Smith continued to shoot from long range. And he continued to miss. He was 0-9 from 16-23 feet against the Bulls. You would think at shot number seven or eight, maybe you pump fake and drive or pass. But that isn’t how J-Smoove thinks, and if it was, he wouldn’t be J-Smoove anymore.
Someone who was hitting from deep was Jannero Pargo, who was 5-8 from behind the arc (7-12 overall) and scored 19 points off the bench.
The Bucks come in after losing a close one against Orlando. Brandon Jennings scored 22 points; Ersan Ilyasova added 15 points and 15 rebounds and Mike Dunleavy scored 18 off the bench. But it wasn’t enough. Dwight Howard scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the win.
Back to tonight’s game, this will be the second game in a row that Joakim Noah will be facing a back-up center. Noah scored 5 points and brought down 16 rebounds against Zaza Pachulia on Monday. Pachulia was starting for the injured Al Horford, whom Noah has struggled against in his career.
Tonight Noah will luck out again with Andrew Bogut still sidelined with a broken ankle. Noah will probably go up against the frontcourt of Ilyasova and Jon Leuer, who have started the last three games for Milwaukee. In those games Ilyasova is averaging 19.3 points and 16.7 rebounds, while Leuer is averaging 5.3 points and 1.7 rebounds (Leuer is only averaging 14.7 minutes though).
Leuer did play well against the Bulls the first time these two teams met, scoring 19 points on 9-11 shooting. He only scored four points (2-6 shooting) in the second game.
Noah is averaging 14.5 points and 12.5 rebounds (5.5 offensive) against the Bucks this season. Milwaukee was without Bogut for both games.
In this last game before the break, it would be nice to get the win. But it would be even nicer that everyone stay healthy…unless we’re talking about Rip Hamilton, because it would be nice just to see him on the court again.
Hawks Injury Report:
Jason Collins: expected to miss 3-4 weeks
Al Horford: expected to miss 3-4 months
Coming off their ugliest loss of the season, the Bulls have to prove the doubters that they can win without Rose…again.
It doesn’t matter that they are a solid 7-3 without Rose, 25-8 overall and have the third best record in the league. The Bulls got laughed off the court and have something to fight for again. Losing to a good team without Rose is understandable, but the Nets were last in defense and they aren’t an offensive powerhouse either.
The Bulls always come back strong from losses though, and I don’t expect this to be any different. Chicago has won 12 in a row following losses.
The loss against New Jersey actually reminded me a little of the loss to Atlanta last season. Chicago went up 14-0 in that game, and later led by 19, only to let Atlanta come back and win 83-80.
Obviously the Bulls weren’t up big against the Nets; in fact it was the other way around. But the loss to Atlanta last season and the loss to New Jersey both stung. After the Bulls loss to Atlanta, they came back with a win over the Magic.
The Bulls and Hawks have split their two previous match-ups this season, both winning at home.
The Bulls needed Rose to score 17 of his 30 points in the fourth to come back and win the first game against Atlanta. The Bulls climbed out of their own 19 point deficit and ran a nifty play for Luol Deng to go up with 3.7 seconds left.
Deng scored 21 points and added eight assists, while Boozer had 11 points and nine rebounds. Those two, along with Rose, were the only Bulls that scored more than four points. Chicago shot 33.8 percent from the field, but toughed out a hard fought win.
Josh Smith recorded 15 points and 14 rebounds, Al Horford, who will miss today’s game, led the Hawks with 16 points. Jeff Teague (seven points) was the only Atlanta starter not in double figures.
The Hawks got their revenge four days later, beating the Bulls by 15. After going off for 30 in game one of the series, Rose was help to eight points on 3-10 shooting. He also recorded a -33 plus/minus. The only starter in double figures for the Bulls was Boozer, with 12 points.
But it was the bench that got big minutes. John Lucas scored 16 points, Kyle Korver scored 13, Jimmy Butler scored 12 and Taj Gibson added eleven.
Once again, only one Hawks starter didn’t get to double figures, this time is was Marvin Williams (three points). Smith led the way with 25 points, Johnson had 17, Horford added 14 and Teague outscored Rose with 12. Vladimir Radmanovic came off the bench, hit 5 three-pointers, and ended up with 17 points.
Atlanta shot 56.6 percent from the field, 75 percent from three and hit all six of their free throws. The Bulls had a 17-4 offensive rebounding margin, but even that wasn’t enough to crawl back in the game.
So that should be two bad tastes in the Bulls’ mouths: the Nets loss and their loss to Atlanta the last time out.
Rose was a difference maker in the first two games. He was the reason the Bulls won the first game, and a big reason why they lost the second (as the star of a team normally is). But Rose is once again a game-time decision, according to Nick Friedell.
Thibodeau said Rose is “coming along. We’ll see how he is (Monday)…He took on contact today so I want to see how he is, how he feels after the contact.”
Nets Injury Report:
Brook Lopez: questionable (right foot surgery)
Shawne Williams: out indefinitely
Damion James: out for the season
Mehmet Okur: out indefinitely
In what seems like the twentieth time this year, the Bulls and Nets will play each other tonight. In reality, today is the third match-up between these two teams.
Chicago took both of the previous games easily, winning by 15 and 21. In the 21 point victory, on February 6, Derrick Rose played just eleven minutes. This game was the beginning of his back spasms, which continue to keep Rose out of the line-up. Rose played 22 minutes in the next game against New Orleans, but hasn’t played since. He will be a game-time decision again today.
Just like earlier in the season, guys have been picking up the slack in the absence of others. Luol Deng recorded a double-double against Boston (23 points, ten assists), Joakim Noah had a poor shooting game, but was great on the glass (15 points, 5-15 shooting, 16 rebounds). Noah had more offensive rebounds (8) than the entire Celtics team (6).
And Carlos Boozer played very well, scoring 23 points on 11-15 shooting while adding 15 rebounds of his own. Take that, people who think he only plays well against bad opponents (I’m often of this mindset, but it’s good that Boozer showed up when needed. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. I’m not very optimistic though).
The Nets have been struggling all season, but it’s gotten worse as of late. They are currently on an eight game losing streak. New Jersey hasn’t won since February 1st, when they beat Detroit by three (The Nets then lost to Detroit twice during their current losing skid).
New Jersey blew a double digit lead to the Pacers, before falling by five in their most recent game. Kris Humphries played well, scoring 24 points and adding ten rebounds (insert your favorite Kardashian joke here). Deron Williams scored 29 points but had six turnovers.
Noah is averaging 12.5 points and eleven rebounds in the two games against New Jersey. Boozer is averaging 19.0 points and 7.5 rebounds.
For New Jersey, Deron Williams is averaging 20.5 points and 7.5 assists.
The Bulls will play Marshon Brooks for the first time. The rookie is averaging 13.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists this season. After a hot start to his pro career, he is averaging 10.0 points on 35.7 shooting over his last four games.
Mamba notes: Brian Scalabrine has played 25 minutes against the Nets in two games. He has played 94 total minutes this season. That means 26.6 percent of Scal’s minutes have come against the Nets. I’m just saying.
If there was a giant dictionary of all things NBA, this game would be listed under the entry for “winning ugly.”
The Bulls shot 39.5 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers.
However, they held the Celtics to 39.7 percent shooting while outrebounding them 52-37, which included a 16-6 advantage in offensive boards and a 12-6 edge in second-chance points.
Said Paul Pierce: ”You play defense for 22, 23 seconds and you don’t get the rebound, it zaps the energy.”
Additionally, when the Bulls were in Boston on Sunday, the Celtics racked up 33 fast break points. Last night, the leprechauns finished with 12. They Celtics tried to run…this time the Bulls were actually standing in the way.
Another crucial stat: The Bulls had a 28-18 advantage in free throw attempts. This was in large part because they were more aggressive in attacking the basket. According to Hoopdata, Chicago attempted 32 shots at the rim to 23 for Boston.
Look, offense comes and goes, especially when a team is without their star offensive player. But defense, rebounding, and attacking the basket are all about effort. They’re about desire. And the Bulls absolutely won the “wanting it more than the other guys” category.
Nobody on the Bulls was any more intense than Carlos Boozer.
Yes. Carlos Boozer.
Boozer’s critics still blast him whenever he doesn’t have a 20-10 game, and they scream when he disappears against opponents like Kevin Garnett. Well, last night, the Celtics couldn’t hide from Booz. He scored 23 points on 11-for-15 shooting while ripping down 15 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists.
Yeah, KG had 18 and 10, but the Celtics were outscored by 10 when he was on the floor, whereas the Bulls were eight points better when Boozington was in the game.
Perhaps more important to the big picture, though, Carlos and Joakim Noah (15 points and 16 rebounds) displayed an on court chemistry that has eluded them for most of Boozer’s time on the team. In the first half, they ran some nifty two-man plays in the paint that ended with Boozer hitting Noah for an easy layup.
Those two learning to co-exist in the paint may end up being nearly as important as a healthy back for Derrick Rose.
Speaking of chemistry, the Bulls may have shot the ball poorly, but they finished with a staggering 27 assists on 30 made field goals. Luol Deng (23 points on 7-for-15 shooting) once again tapped into his inner Larry Bird and played the role of point forward, finishing with 10 assists…two more than Rajon Rondo.
You know who else gave the Bulls a big lift? Mike James. No, seriously.
James — fresh out of the NBA D-League (again) — got a call to duty in the second quarter when Rajon Rondo was overwhelming C.J. Watson and John Lucas III with his post game. Enter James.
Said James: ”I’m not going to let no one smaller than me post me up. I take pride in my defense. I’m not the biggest guard, but I have some size on me. I’m not going to let him be able to do whatever. Guards have never posted me up and that’s not something new that I’m going to start allowing.”
Here’s another point in James’ favor. Watson finished with 11 shots and 3 assists in 27 minutes. Lucas finished with three shots and zero assists in seven minutes. James had five shots and 4 assists in 17 minutes.
Mike’s assist total may not be staggering, but C.J. and John were looking to shoot first and create second. Or third. Or fourth. No offense to those guys, but they definitely had an eye for the twine. Other than a few possessions, James was looking to make a play first, and that played a part in Chicago outscoring Boston 26-11 in the second quarter.
The guy was ready and he made a very real impact. His plus-minus score of +15 was a game-high.
Said Deng: ”Mike is a pro. He just came in, we didn’t miss a beat … the rotation is different. Some guys haven’t played with Mike, haven’t played with him in a while. But he’s been running the plays. He wasn’t asking ‘What play is this?’ and all that. That’s just what a pro does. He was ready and prepared.”
The entire team was, which was heartening, especially considering their half-hearted defensive effort against the Kings a few nights ago. And get this: The Bulls are now 7-2 without Rose this season.
But don’t get any funny ideas.
Said Noah: ”Derrick’s like one of our main soldiers. We don’t ever want to see him down. I don’t think it gives us extra confidence [playing without him], I think we’re all confident in our abilities, but we know we’re not getting to where we want to get to without that guy. We know that we need Pooh healthy.”
That last part is key: Rose has to be healthy for the Bulls to have any hope of winning a title. And he’s getting good advice from Deng…a man who has been forced to (and sometimes unfairly criticized because of it) sit out when he would have rather been playing.
Said Deng: “He wants to be out there with us. This is a guy who’s not used to sitting out. I keep telling him, you’re going to play in this league for a long time. Every year is going to be different. You’ve just got to be smart about it. … Derrick, man, he’s so competitive. He wants to be out there so bad. I could see it. Everyone sees it. I keep telling him, ‘We just got to be smart. It is what it is, but don’t come back [if] you’re not 100 percent.’ We’re going to try and win these games ‘til he comes back.”
Bonus Stat – Part 1:
The Bulls were 10-for-21 (47 percent) from three-point range last night…despite Kyle Korver’s 0-for-5 performance. Deng was 6-for-9, Watson was 2-for-4, James was 1-for-1 and Lucas was 1-for-2. By contrast, the Celtics were 3-for-15, giving the Bulls a 30-9 advantage in points off three-pointers.
Bonus Stat – Part 2:
The Bulls outscored the Celtics 29-21 in the fourth quarter. And that’s part of an ongoing trend. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Chicago has an NBA-best fourth quarter point differential of +85 this season. The next closest team is Portland (+57), followed by Milwaukee (+44), Atlanta (+42) and New York (+42).
Boston Injury Report:
Brandon Bass: expected to miss 1-2 weeks
Kevin Garnett: missed Wednesday’s game against Detroit (hip flexor)
Sasha Pavlovic: missed Wednesday’s game against Detroit (sore wrist)
Chicago has their first chance of the season to avenge a loss tonight when they welcome the Celtics to the United Center. Boston dealt the Bulls their most recent defeat on Sunday, and now Chicago gets the chance to prove what they have at home.
This one looks pretty similar to the last time out. The Bulls will probably be without their starting guards. Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton will most likely miss their fourth and ninth games respectively. Rose is a game-time decision, but according to ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell, Rose didn’t sound optimistic.
The Celtics are once again coming off a game they probably shouldn’t have lost. Boston fell to Detroit last night by ten. Rajon Rondo continued his hot streak, scoring 35 points to go with five rebounds and six assists.
You surely remember Rondo had a triple-double against the Bulls. If the Bulls want to win they’ll have to slow down Rondo, who is averaging 19.2 points and 9.8 assists over his last five games.
Boston’s shooters were off against Detroit though. Paul Pierce shot 3-11 (ten points) and Ray Allen went 1-5 from the field. Allen did go 8-9 from the line to finish with ten points. The Celtics were without Kevin Garnett in the loss. Garnett sat out with a hip flexor. He could miss tonight’s game as well.
Another aspect that really hurt Boston was foul shots. Boston went 19-32 from the line (59.4 percent), while the Raptors went 24-29 (82.8 percent).
The Bulls didn’t look too great in their most recent outing either.
Normally the Bulls are great defensively at home, but their last time out Tuesday against the Kings, Chicago gave up 115 points. That translated to a 117.3 defensive rating.
But it wasn’t just defense. The Kings had 17 offensive rebounds (35.4 offensive rebounding rate), while Chicago only brought down nine.
Even after they played some porous defense and couldn’t box out against Sacramento, the Bulls are still only allowing 84.1 points per game at home and are holding opponents to 41.2 percent shooting.
Boston is giving up 94.9 points per game on the road, which is 12 points more than they give up at home. The Celtics are 4-5 this year away from the TD Garden.
Boston is 4-3 so far this season with no rest and is 5-7 after losses.