Preseason Game Four: Bucks vs. Bulls

The Official (and only) Inside Move of your Chicago Bulls!

The Official (and only) Inside Move of your Chicago Bulls!

The Bulls beat the Milwaukee Bucks 87-86 at the UC last night. I’ll take it. After all, Chicago was playing without three of its big guns. Oh, and it’s the preseason.

Guys who looked good:
Okay, Joakim Noah was the Player of the Game…but first let me say a few words about Taj Gibson. I’ve been trying to temper my enthusiasm, because it’s only the preseason. Gibson hasn’t yet seen real NBA action or faced a real NBA defense. That won’t happen until the regular season. That said…I like this kid. I really do. It’s not just the raw numbers, which were impressive (15 points, 7-for-11 from the field, 10 rebounds and a couple blocks). It’s not just the fact that his jumper (not that I want Bulls big men popping too many Js) looks pretty sweet. It’s his feel for the game coupled with some serious enthusiasm. The rookie is juiced to be playing. Regarding his first game in the United Center, Gibson said: “My heart was beating 100 miles a minute. When you look up and see those banners and think about Scottie Pippen and some of the other guys who played here, you’re bound to get a little nervous. I’m a city kid from New York who really loves basketball and follows basketball so it was definitely special to play here tonight.”

Okay, enough man love for Gibson. Onto my other man crush, Noah, who went Jo-Wild on the Bucks. He ripped down a game-high 16 rebounds. He had more offensive boards (6) than the rest of the Bulls and Milwaukee’s starting five combined (5). He scored a surprising 20 points on an even more surprising 8-for-12 shooting (plus, ugh, 4-for-9 from the line). And, of course, he had a game-high 3 blocked shots. Forget the points and rebound totals. When a guy crashes the offensive glass, almost finishes with double-digit free throw attempts, and swats shots…he’s being wacky-aggressive. And being wacky-aggressive, that’s Noah’s thing. It’s what he does, what the Bulls need him to do. And he knows it. Said Noah: “I’m trying to be more aggressive, but at the same time, not do too much. I understand my role is always going to be the energy guy, try to get offensive rebounds, try to get extra possessions for my team. If I can add like a hook shot or something, especially at end-of-the-clock situations, I think that can help the team.” In case you’re wondering, Noah hit three hooks last night. Three! A Bulls big with an actual inside move?!

James Johnson, the other rookie, didn’t finish with overwhelming stats (11 points, 4-for-5, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), but he scored 10 of the team’s 22 fourth-quarter points. Not bad for a rookie. Note that 7 of those 10 points were scored off jumpers from 20, 23 and 24 feet out. What is it about Chicago that makes big men want to chuck jump shots? Come to think of it, isn’t Antoine Walker from Chicago? Hmm, I wonder…

Guys who looked baaaaaad:
John Salmons had his second consecutive 2-for-8 shooting performance. He missed all three of his three-point attempts and finished with only 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. That line is bound to stir the fans who miss Ben Gordon into near-rebellion. But I’m still giving Salmons a free pass because he’s still awaiting his newborn. I have friends who have spent two, three, even four years recovering from pre and post-child birth. And I’m talking about the men.

So I’m not worried about Salmons. Yet. I am, however, a bit concerned about Luol Deng, who seemed nearly invisible in his 27 minutes of PT. Deng shot 3-for-10 (including two shots that were fed back to him) and didn’t have much of an impact anywhere else either. He’s only looked good in one preseason game, and that was in his adopted homeland. Deng missed games last season. He was injured. I know he needs time to get back into the swing of things. But I’d be lying if I said that part of me wanted, maybe even needed, Deng to kick some butt in the preseason…just to assuage the totally justifiable fears that he’s never going to be what fans and management thought he would be.

It took Kirk Hinrich 14 shots to score 13 points, which isn’t good. He also dished out a mere 2 assists in 24 minutes…as the team’s starting point guard. I still maintain the Kirk is going to be one of the best backup combo guards in the league. But there’s a reason Derrick Rose bogarted Hinrich’s starting spot almost immediately last season.

Finally, there was Jannero Pargo, gun for hire. He went 3-for-11, missed three of four from downtown, and offset his team-best 6 assists with a game-high 5 turnovers. It was Pargo’s second straight 5-turnover game, and it matched the turnover total of Chicago’s entire starting lineup. Not good. Worse yet was Pargo’s plus-minus score. Exactly three Bulls finished with a negative plus-minus last night: Derrick Byars (-1), Chris Richard (-3) and Pargo (-10). Only Carlos Delfino of the Bucks finished with a worse plus-minus score (-15).

Guys who didn’t play:
Derrick Rose (right ankle sprain), Tyrus Thomas (right hip injury), Brad Miller (flu-like symptoms).

Reasons for concern:
Last season, the Bulls struggled to protect their defensive glass. Sure enough, the Bucks grabbed 13 offensive boards last night, including 6 from Dan Gadzuric. They also struggled to contain opposing big men. Sure enough, Bucks power forward Hakim Warrick went of for 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting and backup center Dan Gadzuric almost had a double-double (8 points, 10 boards) in 13 minutes.

Reasons for hope:
Did I mention that Noah and Gibson played really well last night?

Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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8 Responses to Preseason Game Four: Bucks vs. Bulls

    Lawrence Vinson October 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Taj Gibson impressed me. Not to say that I am not usually blown away by relatively unknown 2nd round draft picks, but it does speak volumes as far as what the team is looking for (and found by drafting him) as well as a motivation for Tyrus Thomas to play harder. I will give Noah the benefit of the doubt as well, but I recall him having a stellar playoff series versus the Celtics so my last known memories of him on the bball court are fond ones. Pargo will have to make some shots soon or else, and once that happens we will officially be a 2nd round team in the playoffs or farthre.

    Brad S. October 14, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    Gosh, wouldn’t that be an unexpected pleasant surprise? If the Bulls developed Gibson and Noah into honest-to-goodness down low threats? If the tenor of this years chatter was whether those two guys are getting slighted by NOT making the all-star game? It’s such a world away from what we are expecting, (“Is Luol OK? Will Tyrus ever justify his darft pick?”) that my brain feels like it is spinning.

    I mean seriously, the Bulls? …with decent bigs? …Has that ever happened?

    luvabullNJ October 14, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

    Yeah! Hook shots, that caught my eye too. If Noah can provide a bit of offense, the Bulls will have a good shot at making the playoffs and attracting a star free agent.
    With his size and range, I was hoping that Johnson would be the scoring PF the Bulls so desperately need but Taj is making a strong case to fill that void. At the very least Taj and Johnson will push Thomas and Deng to play better or loose their starting spot. This could only be good for the Bulls.

    I’m a big Bulls fan but I don’t see the Bulls getting any top stars in the 2010 free-for-all.
    1) The Bulls have nothing more to offer LeBron $$ or talent wise then Cleveland. Not to mention an owner with money and the willingness to spend it. If the Big Diesel turns out to be the Big Dumpster, they could spend that money on either Amare or Bosh.

    2) Miami has the most CAP space, a proven Super star and South Beach to lure any premier big man (Bosh, Amare or Boozer). Not to mention if Beasley gets his act together, (and he’s looking good so far), and Riley waiting in the wings to get the team over the hump when they start sniffing the finals. why would Wade want to leave?

    3) The Knicks have just enough caps space, Madison Square Garden, NYC and two decent big men in David Lee and Al Harrington.

    4) Even the Nets have lots of CAP space, as good or better young talents in Devin Harris, Brooks Lopez and Courtney Lee and a new owner with really deep pockets.

    What do the Bulls have to attract a Super-Star? Rose is still more promise then proven. Noah, when he gets there (and I think he gets there this year), will be a Bill Cartwright or Charles Oakley at best (which I’ll gladly take after Curry and Chandler). And we’re already talking about a couple of low draft picks pushing Thomas and Deng for minutes.

    Why does it feel like Sterns’ Mighty Marketing Machine hyping the Kool-Aide to keep the fans of the other 25 teams interested, and Riensdorf doling out generous portions to the Bulls fans. (does anyone outside Boston, Cleveland, LA, Orlando and San Antonio have a shot?).

    I see Bosh going to Miami, Amare staying in Phoenix, Knicks picking up Joe Johnson and keeping David Lee and the Bulls overpaying Carlos Loozer who is more interested in grabbing more $$ then rings.

    The Bulls blew their chances when Garnett was moved and again when Gasol was moved. They should have gone after David Lee this off-season. Even if they came away empty, they would have forced the Knicks to give up their CAP space and knocked one team out of the free-agent competition.

    I say the Bulls forget about LeBron or Wade and go after David Lee or Amare. Joe Johnson would be plan B unless Yao Ming get fed up with Houston and opts out of his contract. At least then they’ll have a good shot at making some noise in the playoffs.

    Juan October 14, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    Who need Amare or Bosh when we have Jaokim!!!!! LOL HAHAHA

  5. LL-Smokes-Jays October 15, 2009 at 12:38 am #

    Let’s not jump off the Aaron Gray bandwagon yet. I think Big Sexy might be what this franchise needs.

    Boppinbob October 15, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    LL, I think you have had too many jays. I really like what I have seen from both Gibson and Johnson. Yes, they are inconsistent, but they are rookies. Yes, they are both taking too many outside shots, hopefully Vinnie and staff can get them to go inside. Salmons will come around, let us remember that Ben had many bad scoring nights along with his good scoring nights.. Pargo is our 4th guard and right now is playing like it. Hopefully, Parg will begin to shoot better.

    Vittorio De Zen October 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    I’ve been on the Noah bandwagon for a while. Nice to see he’s really putting it together. The man was a solid starting 5, even without much of an offensive game other than using his quickness. Now, hook shots? Hook shots?! Awesome.


  1. Not Qualified To Comment » Bulls Preseason Update - October 15, 2009

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