Let’s hear it for your 4-1 Chicago Bulls. Can we carry over the preseason record? No, probably not. Anywhere, here are some high and lowlights from last night’s 99-94 road win over the Timberwolves.
Guys who looked good:
The Player of the Game? Actually, it might have been…Chris Richard. No, really. Richard came off the bench to score a game-high 17 points and grab a co-game-high (with Kevin Love) 13 rebounds. He even added 2 blocked shots for good measure. I don’t know (and kind of doubt) whether we’ll see Richard wearing Chicago red when the season opens, but he played his butt off last night.
Joakim Noah continued his strong play with 14 points on nearly perfect 7-for-8 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds. His offense has looked really good the last couple games. Unless my eyes were deceiving me, he even stuck a jumper or two last night. He also didn’t have any blocked shots, which was weird. Okay, who is this guy and what has he done with Joakim?
John Salmons (16 points, 7-for-14, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) and Luol Deng (14 points, 5-for-10, 4 assists) broke out of their mini-slumps. Of course, Luol had both a dunk and a layup blocked, and he missed another layup, plus four of his five field goals came on long jumpshots. Just little observations that could become mild concerns. I would like to see more slashing to the hoop from Deng this season. For the record, I’d like to see more to-the-rim action from Salmons too.
Guys who looked both good and bad:
Overall, Kirk Hinrich’s shooting wasn’t great (3-for-7), but he was 2-for-3 from three-point range and finished with 4 assist and a game-best 4 steals. (For comparison, the rest of the Bulls had 2 steals.) But, gak, he also committed a game-worst 4 turnovers.
Taj Gibson came back down to earth for a night, shooting only 2-for-6 and finishing with 6 points before fouling out in only 22 minutes. He’s a rookie. But…he did have 6 boards (including 3 offensive) in limited PT.
The other rookie, James Johnson, nearly had a double-double (10 rebounds, 9 points), but shot 3-for-9 from the field.
Guys who looked bad:
Jannero Pargo is not afraid to shoot, no matter how often he misses. The latest brickfest was a 3-for-13 performance, which included 0-for-3 from downtown. Once again, his 4 assists were nearly offset by 3 turnovers. He did have an above-average (for him) 4 boards, though. Still, that wasn’t enough for me to overlook his misdirected shooting.
Guys who didn’t play:
Derrick Rose (right ankle), Tyrus Thomas (right hip), Brad Miller (more flu-like symptoms).
Reasons for optimism:
The Bulls held their opponent to 39 percent shooting (including 2-for-18 from three-land) on the second night of back-to-backs. They also won the rebounding battle 50-46. That number included 15 offensive boards.
Reasons for concern:
More turnovers! There were 21 this time, which meant and extra 28 points for the Timberwolves. Also, despite outrebounding the Timberwolves, the Bulls still gave up 14 offensive rebounds. Remember: keep an eye on Chicago’s defensive rebounding this season. The Bulls were one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league last season and it cost them several games. Oh, and one other thing. This isn’t game-related, but the Bulls have a league-high 22 sets of back-to-back games this season.
Said Noah: “It’s always a good feeling to win, but we know it doesn’t really mean that much because it’s preseason. It’s all about improvement. It’s our first back-to-back and having two wins in a row and having the right mind-set, it’s important.”
Deng jammed his finger on his left hand while trying to catch a pass in the third quarter. However, he should be fine. Rose and Thomas are expected to return to practice today. Additionally, if Salmons’ wife doesn’t give birth to their second child by Friday, she might be induced. If that happens, he might miss Friday’s home game against Minny.