Stat of the night: 28.
As in 28 field goal attempts.
For John Lucas III.
That is not a mistake. Nor is it a typo.
John Lucas III.
This is the same man who had attempted a total of 39 shots in the previous seven games he’d played in this season.
My gast is still flabbered. It may be flabbered for days.
But, against all odds, Lucas’ Kobesque night worked out okay for the Bulls. Despite connecting on only 11 of those 28 attempts, Lucas logged 46 minutes in place of an injured Derrick Rose and finished shockingly close to a triple-double (25 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists). Meanwhile, Chicago swept it’s only stretch of back-to-back-to-back games this season with a 78-64 win over the Washington Generals.
Man oh man are the Wizards a lousy team.
And poor John Wall is trapped on that moribund squad. Remember: Coming out of college, many people predicted Wall would be better than Rose. Last night, Wall (11 points, 4-for-13, 8 assists, 5 boards) was thoroughly outplayed by Chicago’s third-string, only-playing-because-the-coach-had-no-other-choices point guard.
John Lucas III took 28 shots.
Sorry. I’m still stunned.
Said Kyle Korver: “Before the game, we all thought he’d get 20 (points). We didn’t know he’d shoot 28.”
I’m right there with you, Kyle.
Added Lucas: “Coach (Tom) Thibodeau was telling me to stay aggressive, don’t back off and don’t stop shooting. He kept telling me if, ‘I’m open, shoot it. If I’m open, shoot it.’ I felt like I was shooting too much and then he got on me for not shooting the times I was open.”
Huh. I don’t remember Lucas passing up a shot last night. Maybe I blinked or sneezed or something.
Said Wizards coach Flip Saunders: “It’s very unusual when the backup point guard gets 28 shots.”
As unusual as a unicorn having lunch with a sasquatch dressed up like Elvis.
Added Wall: “He played every minute just about, so he ran the show out there. He got good shots. Couple times the first half he got me on a couple of pump fakes and he made shots. You get that many shots you should be able to score that many points. He did a great job of running the team.”
That was true. At times.
But Lucas didn’t do much to get fellow starters Carlos Boozer (4 points, 2-for-7, 6 rebounds), Joakim Noah (4 points, 2-for-5, 4 rebounds) or Ronnie Brewer (2 points, 1-for-6, 3 boards) going offensively. Or Luol Deng, who needed 21 shots to score 12 points (although Lu did have 15 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots).
It was that kind of bizarro night in the United Center. Boozer and Noah spent most of the second half handing out towels and Gatorade during timeouts while Thibs leaned on Kyle Korver (+28), Taj Gibson (+20) and Omer Asik (+17). Most experts predicted Chicago’s depth would be crucial in this lockout shortened season, and they were right. After all, the Bulls were without their MVP point guard (toe), starting two guard Rip Hamilton (groin), and backup point guard C.J. Watson (elbow). What’s more, Noah was limited in the second half by a sore left thumb.
The Bulls are like a M.A.S.H. unit right now.
But at 10-2, they also have the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Again, it helped that this Wizards team is near-to-absolute garbage. They’re 1-9 for a reason, folks. Washington shot 31 percent and finished with a dismal 64 points.
During the ESPN Daily Dime Live chat, I asked the following question with about four minutes to go:
“Fact or Fiction: The Wizards will reach 70 points.”
Turned out to be fiction. Washington never scored again.
I repeat: The Bulls played their third-string point guard 46+ minutes and won.
By 14 points!
Thank you, NBA schedule makers.