Wins are always good.
And the Bulls played reasonably well.
Chicago was hot from the field (53.8) and from downtown (6-for-12), finishing with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 57.5. Their Offensive Rating was 114.3 points per 100 possessions, and their defense limited Sacramento to 42.2 percent shooting.
And check out these numbers: 33 fast break points and 54 points in the paint.
The Bulls also got a balanced effort on the score sheet. Derrick Rose finished with 19 points and 8 assists. Carlos Boozer had a manly double-double (16 points, 15 boards). Rip Hamilton contributed 16 points (7-for-15) and Luol Deng had a quiet all-around game (12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists). C.J. Watson had an excellent floor game in relief (game-high 9 assists), while Ronnie Brewer (12 points, 5-for-5), Kyle Korver (6 points, 2-for-2) and Taj Gibson (6 points, 3-for-4) all shot extremely well off the bench.
Unfortunately, some of the trends from the loss to Golden State continued last night. The Bulls committed 18 turnovers and gave up 23 points off those turnovers. And the Kings — who fell behind by 15 points in the first quarter — managed to stay in the game thanks in no small part to 34 trips to the free throw line.
Sacramento also ripped down 18 offensive rebounds.
Details. Little details. Or not-so-little details. They can define games. This one should have been a laugher. The Kings are the league’s youngest team and the Bulls should have blown them away early and gotten the starters a nice, long rest for tonight’s game against the Clippers.
Instead, Deng (40) and Boozer (38) logged big minutes, and Hamilton (36) and Rose (32) played more than they should have.
Take care of the ball. Control your defensive backboards. Defend without fouling.
They’re basic concepts the Bulls are struggling with right now.
I feel bad complaining after a win. Maybe it’s the armchair coach in me, but the Bulls need to clean up these details. They should not have lost to the Warriors. The Kings should not have been able to hang around in this one. The Bulls need to start really imposing their will on lesser teams.
And so does Derrick Rose.
After the game, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was critical of the officials and their treatment of his young superstar. But you know what?
Derrick needs to play better.
Have you looked at his numbers through three games? Forget MVP level. They aren’t even All-Star level: 18 PPG, 45.5 percent shooting, 7.1 APG, 2.4 RPG, 3.4 FTA. His Player Efficiency Rating is 14.8.
Did Rose absorb some uncalled contact last night? Yep. He sure did. And so does every NBA player in every game that is ever played. It’s the nature of the beast.
Frankly, Rose needs to force the issue. He needs to drive into the belly of the beast and force the officials to make calls by attacking the rim with all the athleticism at his disposal. Nobody can stay in front of Rose, and very few people can overwhelm him physically. The onus is on Rose to make the refs give him foul shots.
During his screed against the officials, Thibs hit closest to the mark when he said this: “Sometimes I think him being such a nice guy goes against him too.”
Rose needs to get mad. He needs to abuse his defenders. He’s got to start playing with more of an edge. I’m not saying he needs to go all Bad Boys Pistons or anything. But fortune favors the aggressors. He needs to become one.
Right now, it looks like Rose is trying to let the game come to him, and that he’s trying to let his teammates find their games. He’s got to assert himself. Take over. Everybody else will fall into line if Rose takes control. The Bulls need that. They really do.
That’s just my take.