Hey, who knew that basketball could be fun?
When last I wrote about the Chicago Bulls, they’d just finished losing to the Orlando Magic at home, barely scoring points and just looking bad. Since then, their offense has returned to general competence under the leadership of Floor General DJ Augustin — more on him in a minute — even as they lost on the road to a pair of Western Conference heavyweights. This is not to mention that Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler are back on the shelf with an achilles injury and a sprained ankle, respectively.
So yeah, I wasn’t looking forward to last night’s game. But then the Bulls scored 60 points in the first half and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers by double-digits and I found myself actually kind of enjoying things. Woo basketball!
Anyway, here’s what we learned:
1. Competent point guard play goes a long way.
Isn’t it amazing? As soon as the Bulls’ point guard goes from “awful” to “mostly all right,” the team goes from barely being able to crack 80 points in a game to ringing up 90+ points in three straight games. For all the love I’ve showered on Marquis Teague, and for all the hate I’ve aimed Kirk Hinrich’s way, DJ Augustin appears to be the best point guard the Bulls have at the moment. He played the first 46:24 of the game last night, racking up 18 points on 7/12 shooting (4/6 from three) to go with 5 rebounds and 10 assists. He outplayed Kyrie Irving by kind of a lot, which is not a sentence I ever thought I would type about a Bulls point guard who is not named Derrick Rose.
Basically, since Augustin has taken over the reins at point guard full-time, this team has gone from feeling like the Bulls of the early 2000s under Tim Floyd to feeling like maybe the 2011-12 Bulls back when John Lucas III was running the show. Back then, of course, Rose was hurt, CJ Watson was hurt, Rip Hamilton was hurt, Luol Deng was hurt…hey, that’s almost exactly like this season! Only back then Jimmy wasn’t hurt. Sigh.
2. I enjoy the Tony Snell Era. Not so much a thing we learned, but a reminder.
Snell went 5/8 from downtown last night, and the Snell/Mike Dunleavy pairing on the wing is a nice reminder that shooting is king in today’s NBA. As many, many people have asked, why is it that Snell suddenly finds himself stapled to the bench whenever Luol Deng isn’t hurt?
3. Active, engaged, (apparently) healthy Joakim Noah is the best.
11 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists. Vintage Joakim. As always, let us all be thankful we get to watch him on a regular basis.
4. Mike Dunleavy can dunk??????
Oh yeah, that was a thing. Actually, he had two dunks, but one of them was very tame. Nevertheless, I enjoyed both of them.
That’s all I got. Bulls have a few days off before they head to New York City to take on the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day.