Game 45 Recap: Bulls 92, Bucks 83

Big Sexy Breaks Out:
Back on January 25, 2005, Kurt Thomas scored 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for the New York Knicks in a 133-118 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Those were good numbers. A little skewed, maybe, because of the pace (103.3) and the number of shots the Knicks attempted (105).

Let me put it this way: That night, the Knicks had two players score 20+ (Thomas and Trevor Ariza) and another player score 40 (Jamal Crawford). And that Suns team was in the lower half of the league in Defensive Rating.

Anyway, that was the last time Big Sexy — as Bulls broadcaster Stacey King likes to call him — scored 20 points. That includes his 2006 season, when he played for a Phoenix squad that led the league in PPG (108.4) and ranked second in Offensive Rating (111.5).

So when you consider the circumstances and the fact that he’s the second-oldest player in the league (next to Shaq), then it’s very possible we got to watch one of the best games of Kurt’s career.

Think about it. The Bucks rank 6th in Defensive Rating (102.5). According to, opposing centers don’t play very well against them. Starters and backups combine for 18.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.4 assists and a PER of 12.2 (which ranks between “in the rotation” and “scrounging for minutes” according to John Hollinger’s reference guide). And those opposing centers have an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 45.5.

Well, as By The Horns reader inkybreath put it, “Did Big Sexy jump in the Hot Tub Time Machine before the game?”

Thomas finished with a game-high 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting (62.5 percent). He added a co-team-high 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocked shots and a steal. Oh, and four personal fouls, just for good measure. What’s more, he helpled limit Andrew Bogut to only 8 points on 4-for-11 shooting (although Bogut did pull down a game-high 18 rebounds).

Pick and roll…jumper. Pick and roll…jumper. Pick and roll…jumper.

It was a pretty simple formula.

Said Carlos Boozer: “Listen, in practice he hits a lot of jump shots. Most nights he only gets two or three shots a game and tonight it was one of them nights where every time we ran pick and roll with him and D. Rose he was wide open. So we just kept [running it]. Sometimes you’ve got to run something til the wheels fall off and if we were still playing right now, we’d still be running that play … and he’d still be hitting them.”

Added Thomas: “I was fortunate enough to play there last year so I definitely know the tendencies of their defense. But I know how they like to cover. I know how they like to rotate. My job is to get my feet set and knock it down.”

Big Sexy isn’t going to score 20 points every night. Heck, he may never score 20 points ever again. But Chicago’s season looked like it was going to derail when Joakim Noah went down with a thumb injury. Despite his age and the limitations that age brings, Thomas is a big reason why the Bulls are 15-6 in the 21 games Noah has missed.

Said Boozer: “That’s why we’re a team. Y’all came to the arena tonight; nobody knew that Kurt Thomas would be our leading scorer on all jump shots. But he knew. He knew what he was going to do tonight. That’s the weird thing about the team, you never know who it’s going to be. Everybody on this team can play and everybody contributes to winning. And tonight it was one of them nights where we needed somebody else to step up. They did a good job on me and D. Rose. And [Thomas] stepped up in a big way.”

He sure did. And Derrick Rose, for one, would love to throw Big Sexy in the Hot Tub Time Machine.

Said Rose: “I’m mad that he’s not a little bit younger. I could play with him a little bit more. But I’m just going to cherish these times I’m playing with him.”

Teamwork means winning:
All the Thomas love aside, it was a pretty productive night for the Bullies. Yes, the Bucks are dealing with injuries, and yes, the Bulls once again let the better part of a 20-point lead get away from them. And, of course, their shooting was, ahem, a bit off (39.5 percent as a team despite Thomas’ efficient night).

But the Bulls still finished with an Offensive Rating of 108.2 against one of the league’s top defensive units. That was thanks in no small part to their 25-11 advantage in free throw attempts and the fact that they converted 88 percent of their foul shots. It also helped that they registered 25 assists on 32 made field goals.

Teamwork, baby.

Said Rose: “[Ball movement] was the biggest thing [assistant coach Ron Adams] was talking about in the locker room. In the first half of the season, we were moving the ball well, then we kind of slipped.”

Well, again, Noah was a big part of that.

Derrick Rose and his free throw attempts:
However, let me jump back to the subject of free throws. Rose (21 points and 10 assists) went 10-for-10 from the line, and if you check his stats, you’ll notice his FTA average has steadily risen to 6.2 per game. That’s two per game above his career average. Now check his splits. Rose averaged 5.8 FTA in November and only 4.4 FTA in December…the same month Hollinger wrote that Rose isn’t an elite point guard because he doesn’t get to the line enough.

Check the numbers, folks. Rose has been averaging 8.3 FTA in January. Projected over the season, that would put Derrick in the top 10 in free throw attempts per game. As it is, he’s right there with guys like Monta Ellis and Chauncey Billups, and he ranks ahead of Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili.

The point is: Every part of Rose’s game — jump shooting, three-point shooting, passing, earning free throws — is coming together. And this ragtag team that’s been missing one or two crucial parts (Boozer and Noah) almost all season is one of the best teams (record-wise) in the NBA.

I’m just sayin’.

Quote of the Night:
“I’ve been known as the guy who can hit that shot my whole career. But the last couple of years, my shots have been down. But I just love playing, and when it’s there, I just try to be a team player. If the shot is there, take it. If not, swing the ball and try to find one of my teammates if he’s open or set a pick to get him open. But when the shot is there, I have confidence that I can make it.”

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

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23 Responses to Game 45 Recap: Bulls 92, Bucks 83

    LuvabullNJ January 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    My apologies to Big Sexy. I saw the pick of Thomas as strictly a mentor to the young bigs (Noah, Asik). I strongly felt that he would not be able to contribute on the court.
    My hats off to the big fella.

  2. Inception January 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    this will never happen, but Rose is making a legitimate case for “most improved player” and MVP.

    1/2 game behind Miami for the 2nd seed, which I believe the Bulls desperately need to get because I’m not looking fwd to a likely matchup with the Knicks in the 1st round…possible upset!

    cavendish January 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    RE: Rose and FTA

    Chicken or the egg?

    What do you suppose came first, Rose motivated by a crackpot pundit or officials getting shamed into finally making the right calls?

    Bigwegs January 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    not to nit-pick here (but I’m about to..), but the final score last night was 92-83. Come on now!

    Luke January 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    cavendish, hollinger is far from a crackpot pundit. I know you might be upset about his comments about rose’s game, but he was right. Hollinger is a very intelligent man and I am going to assume knows a lot more about the nba than you do. Not trying to start a fight, but you can’t just call everyone an idiot because they arent drose lovers the way all of us are

  6. Matt January 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Luke, I agree Hollinger is far from a crackpot, but it is also more than fair to call him out for his method of analysis. Stats might capture part of the picture, but if you want to actually see how good a player is you have to actually watch basketball. My problem with all of Hollinger’s arguments I’ve read (not going to pay money to get access to all of them…) is that he entirely relies upon stats and ignores everything else. For instance, the amazing thing about DRose is that even though he’s racking up the stats like a MVP he isn’t getting credit for the fact that he’s basically creating every shot for the Bulls when he’s in the game. Specifically Hollinger’s PER completely ignores all of the times he penetrates, kicks it out, and then the Bulls get the extra pass or every time he gets mugged and the officials don’t call it.

    Matt McHale January 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Yeah, I muffed the score in the header. It’s been fixed.

    Regarding Hollinger: I want to point out that I didn’t necessarily disagree that Rose’s game could benefit from drawing more fouls. In fact, I think that Derrick getting to the line is crucial for the team’s long-term success, especially in the playoffs.

    However, I strongly disagreed that Rose’s lack of free throw attempts — relative to other point guards — were preventing him from being an elite PG. I mean, trying to claim Rose isn’t an elite anything is pretty innacurate, IMHO.

    Savage January 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Just because someone makes a living doing something like covering sports does not make their knowledge above reproach. Hollinger says some silly things sometimes. Do I think he knows more about the game of basketball than myself just because he makes a living covering sports. No not at all, I have been watching basketball almost my entire life and I am not a youngster anymore. To say D Rose is not an elite point guard shows a lack of knowledge about the game in my opinion. Especially with Rose needing to pick up his game due to team injuries. D Rose is without a doubt one of the best point guards in the league and is having an MVP type season. We have a great record and have withstood injuries to two of our top four players and still have a great record. How D Rose would not get a fair share of the credit is beyond me. Silly to say the least.

    BoppinBob January 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    I remember when MJ was critizied for scoring too much, then for not having enough assists, then for not playing defense, then for not hitting 3-pters. Every time he was critizied he went out and drastically improved his performance in that area. Sounds a littlelike someone we are watching today. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. While I have been slow to anoint DRose a superstar, the unbelieveable improvement in the areas of assists, 3-pt shooting, drawing fouls and defense in the same season has taken any reservations that I had away. He is a superstar. I will no longer challenge that assertion.

    You have to give kudos to Gar/Pax for the team that they have built on the core of Rose, Noah, Deng and Gibson (I did not mention JJ because he is not getting PT, which I think is a mistake). Gar/Pax has added talent and depth which has paid off in a record of 31-14 with major elements of the team missing substantial time. While they may make a move before the trading deadline I d not think a move is necessary to consider their performance this season and last off-season as fabulous. Selecting Thibs as HC, and the players added to the roster with the focus on chemistry (after missing on the “big three”) should earn the Bulls organization some mention for “exec of the year” consideration.

    These Bulls are legitimate contenders without a change at SG (which I do not believe is necessary).

    chitown4life January 25, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    1) The people that think Drose not only is , in the talk for MVP but also a true superstar and elite player best look at his stats and the body of work he has done without his supporting cast able to play along side him in the games he has won.Also to add why has the attention not been giving where is sh0ould be givin in the media full time so rose is not even a vet player barely out of being a rookie he is a stud star and elite unstoppable player therefore he should be givin, his due respect by his critics .

    2) If Rose by some odd chance continues to play the way he has been plaing and not win the award of MVP then one must look at why the award is giving out in my eyes some have won it but may not really deserved it. Rose is not one if he wins that will not deserve it he is fully worthy of this award.
    3)The Bulls must look forward but also be willing to stay in the present and not make any harsh moves less it will not hurt the foundation of the team and the chemistry they have going now which is very high.
    they may want to consider waiting till the draft or right before the trade deadline and see who wants to make a deal that suits them cause the team they have now is most definately a compedetor for the whole ball of wax and trophy .

    Luke January 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    I like this discussion, lets keep it going.

    Hollinger does not claim to be the end-all of basketball knowledge. He established himself with the understanding that he is a math genius from MIT (I believe). He loves numbers and creating equations. So from that standpoint, compared to other point guards, the one thing keeping rose from paul/williams was his FTA. Did I agree with it? I was on the fence… Rose deserved more and I believed he wasn’t getting the calls, but I did not believe that to be an elite PG he had to get those extra trips to the line.

    And, Hollinger being a math guy, he looks at the game from a viewpoint that puts players into a definitive role (ie point guard) and analyzes them from this point. In my view, yes, Chris Paul is a better Point Guard because he is more efficient and that is what you want out of your ideal point guard. Would I take Chris Paul over Rose on my team? Not a chance in hell. Rose is one of the best basketball players in the league who happens to play the point guard position. His skills are elite/superstar status and he simply cannot be restricted to being a point guard who is expected to do what the traditional point guard does.

    And as far as calling him out…. in the world of sports where crazy things happen that really can’t be explained because of different factors, Hollinger’s method is one thing that CANNOT be called out. Everything he says is mathematically accurate, and although not always 100% correct in real life, it is a viewpoint that has definitive support… compared to the argument between a Patriots fan and a Colts fan about Brady vs Peyton. The Patriot fan is going to argue all the superbowls and records, the Colts fan is going to argue teammates/coaching/player IQ, but in the end its up to what each fan believes is more important. Hollinger is that middle ground where biases cannot influence the results and the numbers used are factual. Its up to the reader and how much that person trusts the numbers. I know numbers arent the overall solution, but they’re a good portion of figuring sports out

  12. Inception January 25, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

    Hollinger just wrote an article on ESPN, explaining if CHI are title contenders or not…..

  13. Luvabull January 26, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    The one thing that Hollinger missed is that if D-Rose blows by the defenders so quickly and avoids contact but gets to the basket and scores, it doesn’t really matter that he gets the foul calls. Do I want my 6’3″ 190+ lbs. PG takeing hacks from 6’9″+, 250+ lbs gorillas patroling the paint? Let’s look the pros (getting fouled) and cons (avoiding contact):

    The pros are that he’s likely to score 2-3 points more for every 10 shots at the rim. The other team accumulates fouls putting the Bulls in bonus early.

    The cons are D-Rose could suffer serious injury. He may look more for contact than a pass to a teamate for an easy bucket. It could interrupt the flow/momentum of the game. Of course there are times when it is avantages to do that.

    My point is that stats don’t necessarily account for the ebb and flow of the game. As long as D-Rose is making the right plays for the team to win the game, it does not matter if he gets fouled or not.

  14. Matt January 26, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    I’d agree that statistical analysis represents perhaps the only truly objective measure of a player’s impact (Reading your last paragraph I think I agree with you more than I thought before), but basketball doesn’t really match up to stats as much as we might see with a sport like Football and especially Baseball. Many of the truly great players (Bird, Jorden, Russell, Magic, and maybe Lebron in time) combined multiple roles.
    This is fundamentally different from other American sports. For instance a pitcher does have a definitive job: pitch. A batter’s ability can easily be measured statistically by how often they hit the ball (with the exception of the occasional bunt or sacrifice flyball players get credit for pretty much everything they do). Personally I think this is why Baseball is so boring to watch, you might as just well read the box score after to see how a player performed.
    Basketball on the other hand demands context, so lets compare who we actually think is a great player and what Hollinger’s stats say is a great player.
    JJ Redick ranks 29th on SGs. Meaning if a team were picking a starting shooting guard just for this season he would be the last SG chosen. However, his impact and value to a team can be tremendous because he has the ability to stretch the floor. Even though he is ranked 14 spots below Vince Carter I’d still rather see him in a Bulls uniform (just let me dream). I’d definitely prefer him to Tracy McGrady who ranks 25th. Even more ridiculous is Ron Artests rank as the 33rd most valuable SF. His defensive abilities and other hustle type of plays are what make him far more important as a player.
    Granted Hollinger has more calculations than I could understand if this were actually my job (I wish), but this little rant highlights my fundamental problems with his approach. Its a great way to speak impartially about how a player stacks up against a certain criteria, but its all has to go back to watching games. Its a subjective game and its unavoidable and a certain degree of talking past each other is inevitable.

  15. Matt January 26, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Sorry never said specifically I used the Value Added/Wins Added for ranking players according to Hollinger but PER fairly similar.

  16. Inception January 26, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    @Luvabull, agree with your point about Rose and the added risk of injury with all the contact he is taking when drawing fouls….he’s already suffering from a back injury…could that be the result of all the fouls he’s beginning to take now? who knows….i guess it’s the price you have to pay as a superstar….MJ surely took his hard hits back in the day (bads boys, knicks).

    i just hope Rose’s body can hold up for the season….one thing in Derrick’s favor – the guy can play with pain…he’s already playing with turf toe.

    Luke January 26, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    I like it matt. I completely agree with every last word you just wrote. Thats what I love about basketball… it takes more than looking at a box score to truly understand the value of a player.

    I just really enjoy hollinger’s take because A.) I enjoy and believe in math, B.) Its about as purely objective as you can be. I also enjoy how it helps point out certain aspects of a player’s game that is very difficult sometimes to be aware of by just watching the game, i.e. a player’s efficiency. Yes, we all notice when DRose is having a bad shooting night. But that’s not all efficiency is about. I love the % statistics off ball possession, team shots, etc. While I agree it does not define a player, its nice to have those as supplemental aid in determining a player’s ability.

    And on a completely other note… I’ve been looking at the schedule, and if Noah can come back and make an impact very early on, and we stay healthy, 60 wins is not too far of a stretch for this team…

  18. TBF January 26, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    Another game, another night of invisibility for our man Bogans. 0 points, 1 board, 1 block, 1 assist in 14 minutes. It’s almost like a Saturday Night Live skit with him anymore! Watch as the invisible man plays basketball!

    chitown4life January 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    @ Tbf bogans is not a scorer we all know that , but to his defense and yes I said to his defense I think he is a very good defender which what he does not score makes up, for on the D side of the game which means even his mins are low but there are stats that do not show up on the score board which allows certain players to not get there just do of credit but the team and the coaches know it so , might want to just look outside the stats of bogans game and watch what he does on the court as a player its not always tight but on most nights he gets the job done
    i have been paying more attention to him on that side of his game . Peace Go bulls D Rose MVP

    Luke January 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    hahaha I am going to have to somewhat agree with what I can understand of chitown4life. I’m telling you man, if you used periods your point would come across a lot stronger

  21. Brian January 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    i entirely agree with you, luke. but you have to admit the irony of you not finishing that last sentence with a period. :p

    and i feel like even though bogans is a good defender, ronnie brewer would still be a much more suitable option at shooting guard. and granted, he still gets his minutes, it’d be nice for him to give the bulls a rush of life from the start of the game, as opposed to coming off the bench. he’s a better defender than bogans, and is a more versatile, athletic player. he may not be able to space the floor well for d-rose, but he fills up the stat sheet in a variety of ways, and can get to the rim.

    chitown4life January 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    @ luke thanks for pointing that out to me, sometimes I get caught in the moment of the comments .I just have so much to say sometimes but yr point you made has been taken thanks again.


  1. The Point Forward » Posts Court Vision: The latest around the league « - January 25, 2011

    […] Let’s all take a minute and appreciate the performance Kurt Thomas put forth in Chicago’s win over the Bucks. Also in that link: Derrick Rose has been getting to the […]

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