Since Derrick Rose tore his right medial meniscus against the Portland Trailblazers, the Chicago Bulls’ level of play has been more flat than day old soda left out in the sun. Losses to the Utah Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New Orleans Pelicans made one of Tom Thibodeau’s catch phrase “have enough to win” seem like a hollow lie. That all changed last night when the Bulls steam rolled through the Miami Heat 107-87.
After a few minutes of the standard back and forth play between the two teams, Chicago began to set the pace for the rest of the game and capitalized in every category they could. As a whole, Chicago outplayed Miami in just about every major category: field goal percentage, free throws made and attempted, three point percentage, rebounding, and assists.
Kirk Hinrich started at point guard once again and, surprisingly, was extremely effective controlling the game tonight. Hinrich moved the ball well around the perimeter and set up his teammates for very easy buckets. Hinrich also contributed by hitting two early three pointers early in the game, a pleasant sight after he went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc against New Orleans.
Carlos Boozer also had a great night and was able to break out of his recent slump to lead the team with 27 points. Boozer managed to create offense through layups, pick and rolls, spot up jump shooting, shooting off of a couple of dribbles, as well as with his back to the hoop. Overall it was a strong night for Boozer, one he can hopefully build off of in the coming games.
Joakim Noah also managed to burst out of the gates in this game after not playing up to par to start the season. Noah took full advantage of Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s absence and dominated paint scoring and rebounding. After the first half Noah had recorded 10 rebounds, one more rebound than the entire Heat squad combined. Noah finished the night with 17 points and 15 rebounds on a super efficient 6-of-9 scoring.
Finally, both Luol Deng and Taj Gibson continued their recent run of stellar play. While Deng wasn’t as effective shooting from the floor tonight, his four three pointers throughout the game spaced the floor to allow the big men to work in the paint with ease. Deng was also able to get to the free throw line enough times to help give Chicago a +8 advantage in free throw attempts for the game as well as put Miami in a little foul trouble. Gibson, like Noah, took full advantage of Miami’s smaller lineup and went to work in the post for a super efficient 8-of-12 shooting.
Despite the fact that Chris Anderson and Dwayne Wade were absent, tonight’s win for the Chicago Bulls can’t be understated. After a several poor showings and losses, many people began writing the Bulls off as nothing more than an Eastern conference playoff team. While it remains true the Bulls likely aren’t going to compete for a title or even the Eastern Conference title, last night’s win has shown that Chicago is still a tough matchup moving forward. All they have to do now is build on their victory.