Game 24 Recap: Bulls 110, Raptors 93

I’ve never felt so bummed after a team I’m rooting for just won in a blowout.

As many of you already know, Joakim Noah is scheduled to have surgery this morning. The procedure will repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, which means a lengthy vacation for Noah. In NBA terms.

And Chicago fans thought the beating the Bears received from the Patriots on Sunday was the worst thing that could happen to one of their teams this week.

According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Noah is scheduled to miss eight to 10 weeks, not returning until after the All-Star break in late February or early March. That would be at least 30 games for the heart and soul — and rebounding machine — of the franchise.”

Said Noah: “It sucks. It’s not what I want. But I have to get back to playing at a high level. I’m tired of taking anti-inflammatory (pills) every time I play. I’m tired of not dribbling with my right hand.

“I’m going to miss playing. It’s frustrating because I feel we have a chance to be really, really good. But I know in the long run, this is what needs to be done.”

Now the Bulls have to figure out how to fill an unfillable gap.

Said Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau: “It’s disappointing for Joe but we’re confident in the abilities of the guys that we have. We’ve got more than enough to win with. Taj [Gibson] has played extremely well, Kurt Thomas has played well for us, Luol [Deng] has played well for us, so we have a number of players who can step up.”

I wouldn’t expect any less than total defiance from a fiery guy like Thibs. But still…the loss is going to hurt. It’s going to hurt a lot. As Johnson said, Noah truly is the heart and soul of this team.

But the surgery is an absolute necessity.

Despite the fact that he’s averaging career highs in points (14.0), rebounds (11.7), assists (2.7), steals (1.2) and blocked shots (1.6), astute Bulls fans noticed something was wrong. People were asking if Noah was okay and noting that something didn’t look quite right.

Jo had scored in double figures in every one of Chicago’s first 18 games while shooting well over 50 percent from the field in most of them. Then he scored in single digits in three out of four games while suffering through some uncharacteristically poor shooting.

Noah scored 6 points on 3-for-8 shooting against the Thunder. Then he had 9 points on 3-for-10 shooting against the Lakers and then 9 points on 3-for-8 against the Timberwolves. He was getting shots swatted and struggling to finish around the basket. He kept driving in for layups and putting them up left-handed. Which he can do. But still…it felt a little forced at time.

It seemed maybe he was just adjusting to sharing frontcourt scoring duties with Carlos Boozer. Now we know what was really going on.

Not the way the Bulls wanted to celebrate their longest winning streak since 2006.

On that subject, Chicago crushed the Raptors. And they did it in Toronto. That’s the hallmark of a really good team, right? Going into another team’s building and busting them. They say blowing out bad teams is a meaningful indicator of postseason success. Well, in you count Saturday’s win over the Timberwolves, the Bulls now have back-to-back lopsided wins against probable lottery teams.

And, seriously, if Carlos Boozer faced the Raptors frontcourt on a nightly basis, he might challenge Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time single-season scoring average of 50.4 PPG. Toronto’s interior defense was softer than the inside of a chocolate marshmallow Santa. In only 26 minutes of action, Boozington scored a game-high 34 points on 13-for-17 shooting. He also went 8-for-11 from the line and grabbed a team-best 12 rebounds. 

Carlos scored 12 points in the second quarter to help the Bulls establish a 63-44 halftime lead. He then put up another 14 points in the third as the lead ballooned to 91-64.

Derrick Rose — who was playing through a sprained right wrist and a bruised right elbow — was all for it: “Before the game I told [Boozer] to get 40. I knew it was one of those nights where my arm wasn’t right. I knew my passing was going to have to win the game. They have some small bigs and he’s big. He’s a bully out there. That’s what he did tonight.”

And pass Rose did. He scored only 6 points on 3-for-9 shooting. But he had a game-high 11 assists and set a tempo that helped the Bulls score 110 points on 53 percent shooting. Chicago finished with 23 fast break points and a whopping 62 points in the paint.

Of course, the Raptors defense — as in the complete and utter lack of it — helped. Boozer got whatever he wanted inside. Bulls players were swooping in for uncontested layups. During the first half, the Toronto crowd booed their team after Rose fed Boozer for yet another driving layup in transition. I couldn’t blame them.

Now the Bulls have a few days for the licking of wounds. They play only three games in the next seven days and won’t suit up again until they play the Clippers at home on Saturday. After that, they have a home game against the Sixers and a road game versus the Wizards before a Christmas day showdown with the Knicks.

The thought of facing Amar’e Stoudemire without Noah is terrifying.

That’s a worry for another day. Even though Joakim is indispensable, the Bulls rank 3rd in the NBA in Defensive Rating. Thibodeau will write up some schemes. Omer Asik’s NBA education is going to be accelerated. Kurt Thomas will bang people and commit fouls. The Bulls will get through this. And Noah will return in time for the playoffs.

Still…this team was starting to become something pretty special. Now we won’t be able to figure out its true potential for months. Maybe longer. Maybe not at all.

Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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22 Responses to Game 24 Recap: Bulls 110, Raptors 93

    Bob L December 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    No denying it…this one hurts big time. Trying to find some silver linings in this mess…at least the soft portion of the schedule meets the Bulls as they try and figure out new rotations, Asik will get some valuable PT which should make him a better player once Noah returns, Noah will have fresh legs for the stretch run and playoffs, and the Bulls will have enough time after he gets back to gel again.

    All that said…what is the ceiling for this team now? It looked like they might have been good enough to fight for a 3 seed, but now, perhaps a 4 seed is what we should try and cement.

    Torch02 December 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Interestingly, this is the second recap of the Noah absence that I’ve read that doesn’t mention Asik once.

    Tony C. December 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    Torch02 –

    Read it again.

    This is, needles to say, extremely frustrating. Not only because of the gaping hole Noah’s absence will create, but because it will put so much more pressure on everyone, especially defensively.

    Bummer indeed.

    Enigmatik December 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    This was not the news that we needed to hear. It goes without saying that he will be sorely missed out on the court, but the show must go on. Booz, Taj, Omer, Kurt…those guys are going to have to all step it up big time.

    This team has a ton of heart, everyone is just going to have to pick up the slack.

    Other than that depressing news, great win…keep up the good work and be ready for an energetic Clippers team on Saturday. Let’s hope Blake doesn’t make too many posters (unless he’s on the receiving end, of course).

  5. Inception December 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    as long as we maintain a #4 seed during Noah’s absence, i think this team will be fine going forward…i’m thinking this team will be running and gunning more often with Taj in there…the defense will expectedly give up more points on avg, but hopefully the offense will bump up the PPG.

    chitown4life December 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Knowing the problem that we face not having Noah now for at least 8 to 10 weeks is good but we must also look on the side of what if mainly because there are no sure things with healing time on injuries yes , we can err on the side he comes back healthy and ready to play bu we also must be open to the reality that he may need more time than expected which means The bulls may want to try to seek out another big man during his absence to try to at least have some sort of back up plan to fill some of the void that now will be there since Noah is definatly out he is a huge part of the game for the bulls on both sides of the court but more so on the D side because of his hard playing relentless D. the options for the bulls may or may not be many but with looming draft picks and room to add a player I would hope that the bulls are considering this very thing Noah will be missed big time but the games are gonna go on so therefore the Bulls must try to prepare for them the best way they can witout Noah . Get well Soon Noah we need you. Peace

    Mahmoud December 16, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    I think it’s going to be really interesting how Coach Thibs is gonna change his rotation. Does Taj go at four, and Boozington at 5? Move Lu to the four, put Kyle in the starting lineup? Start Asik at the five? Maybe do the whole two headed monster thing, by starting C.J and Derrick, and sliding everyone down a spot? Lots of options there, which a credit to the Bulls management that they made a team with so many interchangeable parts.

    Unfortunately, I see us losing that Clippers game. They’re a team that tends to beat teams that are better than them (of their five wins, two are against the Kings, but the other three are against New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio). With Noah out, it seems like something of a trap game. Plus, you know VDN is gonna have his team fired up to play his old team in the UC. If there was anything VDN was good at, it was at managing personalities and motivation.

  8. Brian December 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    any chance the bulls bring in Sheed?

    Gorditadog December 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    Yeah! Let’s get Sheed! Just in time for Christmas:

  10. Matt December 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Is it just me or is this starting to get a little suspicious. First Loul, then Noah, then Rose, then Boozer, then Noah again, and Rose is having wrist problems…I’m starting to wonder whether the Bulls coaches are getting good advice on how to deal with banged up players, and that players are the preventive workouts they need for a full NBA season. Cause Either that or they just happen to have horrible luck. Seems like the bulls might want to get a new training staff.

    Matt McHale December 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    ‘Sheed? When Jake Voskuhl is still available??

    Matt McHale December 16, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    “Is it just me or is this starting to get a little suspicious. First Loul, then Noah, then Rose, then Boozer, then Noah again, and Rose is having wrist problems…I’m starting to wonder whether the Bulls coaches are getting good advice on how to deal with banged up players, and that players are the preventive workouts they need for a full NBA season. Cause Either that or they just happen to have horrible luck. Seems like the bulls might want to get a new training staff.”

    Yeah. I lost confidence in the team doctor back when Luol’s leg fracture was mishandled.

    TimeTraveler December 16, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    The Bulls will be fine! I say this for a few reasons.

    First, the Bulls don’t have a real tough schedule over the next couple of months. Roguhly, less than a third of their games are against teams that are over 500.

    Second, how many dominate centers will the Bulls go up against in that time? not many.

    Third, the Bulls have depth and versatility. looking at the schedule, Thibs could easily start Gibson at center. I’ve been hearing speculation that Boozer will start at the 5? Gibson makes more since to me because he’s taller, a better defender, and a superior shot blocker. Boozer might be better at keeping his man away from the basket because he is stronger, but when Boozer gives up position down low he’s easier to score on. Overall, Gibson is a little better at defending the post. Also, Deng can slide over to the 4 sometimes, and this may get JJ some time, with Asik backing up Gibson.

    And lastly, Thibs is proving to be every bit the mastermind they said he was. He will make the proper adjustments defensively. Don’t get me wrong, losing Noah hurts like hell, but think about it… do you really think the bulls needed Noah to blow out Toronto last night? The Bulls will still win 50+ games this year.

  14. Raevyrn December 16, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    The big thing for me is I don’t want Noah to be rushing to come back, no matter how dire things may become. I really hope they push for him to be fully healed and then return instead of risking injuring it again. The team is pretty young and needs to think of the long term prospect, especially considering how integral Noah is to the team.

  15. Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    Is there any way he can get back on the court in less than 8 weeks? For real i need answers???

    inkybreath December 17, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    Andrew Bogut can’t wait to play us now.

    chitown4life December 17, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Finally they are tallking about what i have said needing to seek a replacement for Noah or at least a decent fill in because you do not know when noah is coming back also how healthy will he be he won’t be in game playing condition perhaps also when he comes back it will be late Feb maybe if not later so the bulls need to consider that now why wait to see what happens with the team when you can make a move now Rasheed would be good fit knows the D and good relation with coach also like Rodman was b4 joining the bulls a thorn to our team now he can be a part of our team and maybe make a impact just saying get him for the low also would spread the floor his techs went down and he might show our young team how to play even more of a tough style of D certainly would not hurt to at least sign him and see how it goes from there I say he fell right into our laps at the right time and timing is key everything happens for a reason Go get ShEED now. Peace

    TimeTraveler December 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    Sheed has some bagage, mostly with the refs, but he can really help the Bulls, and I don’t think he’ll be a disruption. Sheed does his thing on the court, but for the most part, he has always gotten along with his teammates. With the new rules in place though, Sheed may set an all-time record for T’s in a season. Let’s not forget, Sheed is a great defender, and he would actually play, unlike Kurt Thomas who has nothing left in the tank. The Bulls should make the move.

    BoppinBob December 17, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    I would not be surprized to see Gar/Pax go serveral games before making a decision about adding anyone to the roster. There is a lot of flexibility with the players they currently have on the roster. If the Bulls can win with the players they have I doubt that they will add anyone. I do strongly believe that the Bulls need another option at center who can play 10-15 minutes. Thomas has not provided any significant PT. The Bulls offense needs an athletic center and Thomas does not fit that mold.

  20. TBF December 18, 2010 at 12:29 am #

    Do you all think Sheed would be in anything approximating basketball shape right now? He hasn’t set foot on a court in months and even when he was playing last year he came in overweight and out of shape. The dude’s just lazy; he showed that the last few years. Just cruise through the season, work himself into game shape on the floor going at half-speed all season, then try to play hard in the playoffs. He’s a lazy player and an opportunist; we gotta be able to better than that.

    chitown4life December 19, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

    @bob your finally seeing what i have been saying only thing we need to do now is hope that Gar / Pax and coach tbs see the same thing but we need some inside blocking rebonding also need to see if we could get some more scoring maybe put kover at small forward to start deng at shooting guard he handls the ball well need to get korver more time on the court to shoot spread the floor aint that why he is here come on.


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