I have to admit, watching the Pistons — a hapless 12-win team with only three road victories on the season — build a 12-point halftime lead in the United Center was a little frustrating.
I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated. You could see irritation in the face of the normally mild mannered Derrick Rose when he uncharacteristically slammed the basketball down in anger after Detroit’s Austin Daye scored an easy layup near the end of the second quarter. That’s when Rose did what great players do.
He stepped up his game.
Rose scored 11 points in the third quarter as the Bulls outscored the Pistons 33-15 coming out of the break. Then, early in the fourth, with the game still in doubt, Rose dropped the hammer.
I know Bulls fans have seen some amazing dunks over the years — the United Center is the house Michael Jordan built after all — but is this kid for real? Seriously, is he for real?
Said Carlos Boozer: “That was a great play. That has to be the number one play on SportsCenter, on WGN, on NBATV, and whatever other channels [people] are watching the Bulls games. He went up and got that ball and threw it in so hard. To me, that was a backbreaker, even though we had a whole ‘nother quarter to play … we all got hyped on the bench. He does some special things every night, but that was special for us tonight.”
That wasn’t the game…but it was the game. You know?
Rose would finish with a game-high 29 points on 10-for-20 from the field and 9-for-9 from the line. He added a game-best 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a blocked shot.
Boozer came through with another big double-double (27 points and 11 rebounds) and Luol Deng had a nice all-around game (17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and a block).
I’m glad the Bulls took care of business at home against a bad team. I’m glad the defense came to life in the second half after taking the first 24 minutes off. But I won’t lie. I’m a little concerned.
First, I hate that the team goes through stretches where the defense is inconsistent at best or non-existent at worst. Detroit is one of the league’s worst offensive teams, and yet they scored 30 points in the second quarter and finished the first half with 55.
The Bulls held the Pistons to only 27 points in the second half — 15 in the third quarter and then 12 in the fourth — but, personally, I would have like to have seen the team take control early and maybe get the starters some rest.
Speaking of which, that’s the second thing that worries me. Deng once again logged 40-plus minutes, finishing the night with 44. Rose played 43 minutes. Boozer finished with 36. Thomas and his creaky kneed with for 30 while Omer Asik saw only five.
Ronnie Brewer saw big minutes off the bench — 32 of them — and had a solid outing (11 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds and a block). But C.J. Watson (five minutes) and Kyle Korver (four minutes) barely played enough time to break a sweat.
And how about the scoring burden? It’s predictable that Rose, Boozer and Deng would have to do most of the heavy lifting. But the other two starters combined for three points (Thomas was scoreless in his 30 minutes). Korver, Watson and Asik all finished with zero points in their limited PT. Which means only six players scored for the Bulls last night while four went scoreless and another (Keith Bogans) finished with three points on one made field goal.
I’m not trying to nitpick, but Detroit ranks 25th in Defensive Rating, giving up 110.2 points per 100 possessions. I’d kind of like to see better scoring distribution.
I might be less worried if the Bulls weren’t facing down a tough four-game stretch: at Charlotte, at Indiana, versus the Heat and then at Memphis. The Bobcats, Pacers and Grizzlies aren’t great teams by any stretch of the imagination, but road games against sub-.500 teams aren’t always gimmies. Just look at what the Nets and Sixers did to the Bulls last week.
Again, I’m pleased with the victory and the continuing dominance of Rose, but the Bulls need to play good defense for 48 minutes and get everybody involved in the offense.