“My prayers are answered.”
That’s what Cleveland coach Byron Scott said shortly before tipoff when he found out Derrick Rose would miss the game due to his toe injury.
But after the Bulls beat his team by 39 points — the biggest home loss in Cavaliers franchise history — I had to wonder what kind of prayers Byron has been saying.
I guess the Basketball Gods have a sense of humor.
The Bulls shot a blistering 55.4 percent from the field and held the Cadavers, er, Cavaliers to 30 percent shooting while sharing the ball like it was Christmas (27 assists) and owning the boards (55-38). And Chicago’s Offensive Rebounding Rate was nearly 40 percent.
How dominating were the Bulls? They led by as many as 42 points despite committing 20 turnovers. There was Cavalier blood in the water and the Bulls were the sharks.
And after this execution, Scott wasn’t talking about prayers. He was talking cold, hard reality: “Chicago was aggressive and physical and the more (shots) they hit, the more we took steps back. We didn’t react to their physical play whatsoever — besides the whining. You can not let a good team like they are come in and play harder, be more physical, more aggressive and expect to win or even be in the game. We have a long way to go. Simple as that. We have a lot of work to do.”
Meanwhile, the Bulls are destroying opponents without the league’s reigning MVP. Plus Taj Gibson (sprained left ankle) and John Lucas III (strained left groin) got hurt during the game.
Said Carlos Boozer: “Deepest team I’ve ever played on, 100 percent,” Boozer said. “Other than All-Star and Olympic teams, this is the deepest team. Most teams go to their bench and hold their own. We got to our bench and they can open the lead.”
It was another all-around team effort. Luol Deng led the team in scoring with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Carlos Boozer had a big-time double-double (19 points and 14 rebounds). Joakim Noah barely missed a double-double (10 rebounds and 8 points). C.J. Watson had 15 points and 7 assists. Rip Hamilton chipped in 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting. The Bench Mob contributed 38 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
And of course there was the defense that held the Cavs to 78.9 points per 100 possessions.
Look, I expected the Bulls to win, even without Rose. But I didn’t expect the outcome to be this lopsided. I mean, the Cavaliers aren’t great, or even good, but they’re not terrible.
I guess those Bullies are pretty good.
After this team overachieved last season, experts and pundits openly questioned whether the Bulls could go all out every night again. Whether they could exhibit the same desire, effort, and intensity for a full season.
Well, it hasn’t been a full season yet, but it sure looks like they can and they will, doesn’t it?
I hate to go all cliche here, but the Bulls play basketball the right way. This is a fun team to watch.
Unless you’re a Cleveland fan.
As for the status of Gibson and Lucas for tonight’s game against the Bobcats?
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said: “Day-to-day. They’re nicked up a little bit, but they’ll be fine. [Bulls team trainer] Fred [Tedeschi] will have a better read on it [Saturday].”
Added Gibson: “I could play tomorrow probably, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
You know, at one time, I would have been worried. But the way things are going, I feel like the Bulls will be fine either way.