What a difference a day can make.
And a location.
And an opponent.
The Bulls were still without Derrick Rose (toe injury), but they were at home and facing a Phoenix Suns team that was playing defense like…
…well, okay, the Suns weren’t playing any defense. None that I could see anyway.
The Bulls got whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it. I mean, 118 points on 53.5 percent shooting is crazy, especially considering the extended garbage time. And check out these advanced stats: Their Offensive Rebounding Rate was 27.9 and their Free Throw Rate was 27.3.
So, basically, the Bullies either a) hit the shot, b) rebounded their miss, or c) got fouled.
Chicago scored a season-high 39 points in the first quarter and finished the first half with a season-best 67 points.
And boy oh boy was the ball moving. The Bulls ended up with 31 assists on 47 made baskets. With only 6 turnovers!
Said Carlos Boozer: “We’re a very unselfish team. We had a meeting earlier this season saying guys were too unselfish and passing up open shots. We know when we have 20-plus assists we’re moving the ball well and most games we have that.”
Speaking of Boozer, he played like he was in NBA2K with the Difficulty Level set to “Rookie.” Booz finished with a season-high 31 points on ridiculous 14-for-21 shooting.
C.J. Watson played like an All-Star: 33 minutes, 23 points, 8-for-12 from the field, 3-for-3 from downtown, 4-for-4 from the line, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and zero turnovers.
Joakim Noah finally played, well, the way Bulls fans have been waiting for him to play, finishing with 13 points (6-for-10), 12 boards, 3 assists and a steal. He also tied Boozer with a game-high plus-minus score of +24.
Oh, and Rip Hamilton returned to the starting lineup, contributing 11 points and 6 assists in 21 minutes.
Said Boozer: “We came out with a great sense of focus. For us, we wanted to get back out there and play after playing so poorly last night.”
Added Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “I thought it was great. We had a lot of guys play well.”
The Bulls got open shot after open shot. And they were hitting them. Via Hoopdata, here’s a breakdown of how they fared from each shot location:
At the rim: 14-for-21 (66.7%)
3-9 feet: 6-for-12 (50.0%)
10-15 feet: 5-for-9 (55.6%)
16-23 feet: 17-for-33 (51.6%)
Three-pointers: 5-for-10 (50.0%)
Here’s where I get to be a killjoy. Know which of those numbers jumps out at me? The 33 attempts from 16-23 feet. That’s the worst zone a basketball team can shoot from: the long two-pointer. The Bulls attempted more field goals from that than any other.
And they were extremely hot.
Normally, Chicago shoots 37.1 percent from 16-23 feet, which ranks 17th in the league.
All I’m saying is this: They played great and the blowout was fun and games…but it was also a bit of an abberration. As much as their blowout loss to the Grizzlies was the night before.
But then again, looking around the league at all the odd results, this seems like it’s going to be a season full of abberrations.
But enough naysaying. The Bulls dominated a bad team without their leader and best player. And C.J. Watson was great in replacement. I quoted the stats above. In only his second game back from a dislocated elbow, he played a nearly perfect game. Credit him for staying in shape and practicing his butt off during his two-week layoff. The kid works. Make no mistake: Watson wants to be a starter, but his only opportunity to do so on this team is when Rose is out.
Said Boozer: “It’s crazy tough [to be in that situation]. Look how good he’s been playing. He played great [Monday] off the bench, to the point where Thibs was like, ‘I got to go and start this guy with D. Rose being out.’ He came back tonight and had another great game. That’s the thing about it, though. C.J.’s been a great player his whole career. He’s always played behind guys that were very good. It’s tough playing behind the MVP this year … He leads our Bench Mob when we’ve got a full roster. He’s a very good pro to say the least.”
It was a good night and the post-game mojo was great. After that Rose-less performance, it’s pretty likely the team will go ahead and rest Derrick for this weekend’s games against the Cavaliers and Bobcats.