I really have to open this recap by quoting By The Horns reader J Hornik from the comments section of yesterday’s game preview post:
“Wow. Just turned into the game, saw the score, and heard this: ‘Omer Asik with AUTHORITY!’ Fork. Done.”
Pretty much, yeah.
Bottom line: The Bulls took advantage of a slightly overrated Western Conference team that was playing the second of back-to-back games against Eastern Conference teams. As I said yesterday, the Warriors may have been 6-2, but their opponents (prior to last night’s game) had a combined record of 15-34.
And they were without center David Lee (arm infection).
On the second night of back-to-backs, teams — especially shorthanded ones — are often sluggish. A step slow on rotations. Many times, they will struggle to get back in transition, mishandle the basketball, and don’t have the legs for jump shooting.
Sure enough, Golden State allowed the Bulls to shoot nearly 55 percent from the field and score 37 fast break points. Moreover, the Warriors gave up 31 points off 19 turnovers and shot only 41 percent as a team including 7-for-23 from downtown). They went to the line only seven times.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Bulls. They smelled blood in the watetr and immediately went into a feeding frenzy, outscoring the Warriors 34-20 after one quarter and 66-38 by halftime. Both teams went ahead with the second half only because David Stern hasn’t instituted a slaughter rule yet.
Said Derrick Rose: “When you see a team come in on a back-to-back you’ve got to get up on offense and get down the court and push the ball. It starts with the defense getting a lot of deflections, guys rebound the ball good and push it. That’s when we’re dangerous.”
Some more numbers: The Bulls scored 58 points in the paint. They were 17-for-24 (70.9 percent) at the rim and 11-for-17 (64.8 percent) inside 10 feet. Not too surprising. In the preview post, I mentioned that the Warriors were giving up the third-most field goal attempts per game inside 10 feet and the tenth-most attempts per game at the rim. Golden State has a soft, gooey center that must be attacked with extreme prejudice.
Well, the Bulls did just that.
Said Warriors coach Keith Smart: “You know, you can see the juice is just not there. You want to play your starters as long as you can because sometimes, they may fool you. No question the Bulls had the upper hand in terms of the energy department.”
That, more than anything, is what impressed me about this game. It wasn’t that the Bulls beat up on a tired, weakened opponent. It was that they pounced on a lesser opponent…didn’t even give that opponent a chance. One of the most frustrating aspects of Chicago teams from the past few seasons was the way they sometimes got waylaid by bad teams. Remember, last year’s squad lost twice to the 12-win New Jersey Nets and choked away a 35-point lead at home to the 25-win Sacramento Kings.
Frankly, the Bulls teams of the recent past simply were not always prepared to take care of business. To win the games they were supposed to win.
Well, again, despite that glowing 6-2 record, the Warriors were a team to be beaten, particularly under the circumstances. The Bulls did that. And they did it early and with nary a backward glance.
Another great thing about playing the Warriors: Players get to pad their stats. Luol Deng finished with game-highs in points (26) and rebounds (11) to go along wiht 6 assists, 2 blocked shots and a steal. Rose added 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting (although he went 0-for-3 from downtown) and 13 assists.
Joakim Noah missed out on his seventh straight double-double but still contributed 17 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, 2 blocked shots and a steal. Keith Bogans scored 14 points (6-for-10) to go with 6 steals and solid defense on Monta Ellis. And Taj Gibson contributed his usual 14 and 7.
From my standpoint, the only disappointments were 1) the general ineffectiveness of Ronnie Brewer (2 points, 1-for-4) during his 21 minutes of PT and 2) that James Johnson logged only four minutes. JJ’s on-again, off-again play has really hurt him the past two years. But blowouts can be a great time to get guys going. Even though I have my doubts about whether it’s even possible, I’d like to see Johnson become a regular contributor. I figured he would have gotten significantly more PT in this beatdown than Brian Scalabrine.
Ah well. I’m picking nits at this point.
Next up: The Bulls need to take care of business at home Saturday night against John Wall and the Washington Wizards. That’s the team’s last game in the United Center before the dreaded seven-game circus road trip. Wall vs. Rose…I can’t wait.
From the AP recap: “Perhaps most indicative of the Warriors’ lack of energy was the fact that Chicago committed a franchise-low seven fouls. The Bulls committed an average of 25 fouls during their first six games, more than all but three NBA teams. Golden State took only seven free throws in the game.”