As I’ve said before, preseason games are essentially meaningless. You shouldn’t get to low after a loss, and you shouldn’t get too high after a win. Especially against a Raptors team featuring a starting lineup of Amir Johnson, Julian Wright, David Andersen, Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa.
That said, it’s still nice to see positive things happening.
For instance: Ball movement. The Bulls were whipping the ball around and finding the open man. Nobody more so than Joakim Noah, who finished with a game-high 8 assists (including 4 in the first quarter). Derrick added 7 dimes, and overall the Bulls assisted on 26 of their 40 field goals.
The unselfish play led to hot shooting (52 percent from the field and 50 percent from downtown) and plenty of free throw attempts (32).
Said Rose: “[Coach Tom Thibodeau] isn’t talking to us about moving the ball. It just comes from the offense. The offense is made so that if you don’t have a shot, you pass it.”
Added Noah: “[Thibodeau’s] offense puts us in a position where we can succeed.”
It’s funny, but I don’t remember ever reading any quotes like that about Vinny Del Negro’s offense the last couple seasons. But maybe I’ve suffering from recall bias.
Speaking of Noah, the dude is juiced. In addition to the gaudy assist total — remember people, he’s a center — Joakim had 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Of course, his numbers might have been padded by the fact that he also played a game-high 40 minutes. Noah wasn’t the only Bulls player logging heavy PT. Rose (36) and Deng (31) did too.
I guess that’s how you get guys prepped for the season.
Another positive sign was the job Chicago did on the boards. After getting thoroughly outrebounded in their first two preseason games, the Bulls outrebounded the Wizards 48-32 on Friday and then pounded the Raptors on the glass 44-22 last night. Heck, Noah almost matched Toronto’s rebound total by himself.
On the subject of board work, Omer Asik did sturdy job of rebounding the ball, pulling down 8 in his 20 minutes of playing time. Asik added 9 points and a co-game-high 3 blocked shots. Admittedly, Omer is a little raw and he’s adjusting to the speed and power of the NBA game. But I like his court sense and the way he positions himself around the basket. He looked pretty good against Washington last weekend (10 rebounds, 9 points), and he was solid against last night.
You know who else looked good? C.J. Watson. During his 19 minutes, Watson went 5-for-7 (which included hitting his first four shots) and finished with 12 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds off the bench. Last season, the Bulls never really had a reliable backup for D-Rose. It would be nice if C.J. could be that guy.
I should also note that Ronnie Brewer finally suited up for some action. He didn’t start, played only 10 minutes, and contributed 4 points, a rebound, and assist and a personal foul. But he seemed reasonably spry for somebody with a sore hamstring.
Said Brewer: “[The inury is] not going to affect the way I play. I’m still going to be aggressive and be one of the most athletic guys on the court. I’m still going to be in the weight room to get stronger in both legs. I won’t be cautious. I’ll just stretch a little more.”
Still…that’s the same hammy that Brewer partially tore last February. Which means proceed with caution.
Said Thibs: “We have to be careful with his minutes. But what he brings to our team is his ability to get in the open floor and attack, slash, put the ball on the floor. And we need a guy who can defend wings well. His length and versatility are assets.”
Deng continues to shoot threes. He went 1-for-3 against the Wizards on Friday and 2-for-3 last night. Three three-point attempts may not sound like very many in this day and age, but we’re talking about a guy who has attempted only 0.8 treys per game during his career.
All in all, it was a nice win. Sure, it came against a lousy team in a game that doesn’t mean anything. But trending upward sure is better than the alternative.