Round 2 Game 3: Bulls 99, Hawks 82

The Bulls needed this.

They needed to prove they’re still the team that won a league-best 62 games during the regular season. The Bulls controlled Game 2, but even after Chicago won that one to tie the series, Jamal Crawford seemed unconcerned.

Said Crawford: “If that’s their best shot, we’re in good shape.”

I think that qualifies as a lack of respect. Which is understandable, I guess. The NBA doesn’t give out trophies to teams with the best regular season record. This Bulls team hasn’t proven anything yet.

Last night’s performance might not have proven the Bulls can win a title. But I think it proved the Hawks hadn’t gotten their best shot yet. I wonder if Crawford wishes he had kept his thoughts to himself.

By the way: Derrick Rose.

Rose needed last night as much as the Bulls did as a team. He needed to remind the Hawks and the world why he’s the MVP of the league. Which is what he did: 44 points (a career-high) on 16-for-27 shooting. He went 4-for-7 from downtown and 8-for-9 at the line. Rose also added 7 assists, 5 rebounds, a steal and a block. And as ESPN Stats and Information noted: “One of the more impressive aspects of Rose’s performance was that he was scoring from everywhere. He scored 12 points in the paint, 12 from three-point range, and 12 from mid-range, adding eight points at the free throw line.”

Rose was undeniably awesome. In nearly every sense of the word. But, as always, this was a team win. For instance, Joakim Noah may have gone a miserable 1-for-8 from the field, but he grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked 5 shots. Noah and Taj Gibson combined to pull down 14 of the team’s 18 offensive rebounds.

That reminds me. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau finally unleashed the Bench Mob on the Hawks. I have been openly critical of the fact that Thibs had, to this point, largely abandoned his regular season rotation. Well, the reserves got significant minutes last night, and it paid off.

As ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell pointed out: “Gibson played 26 minutes, scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kyle Korver was 4-for-6 from the field and dropped in 11 points. C.J. Watson had eight points. Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik played solid minutes and ramped up the defensive intensity when needed.”

I loved seeing those guys do what they did during the regular season.

By the way, I keep calling for more Korver, and he keeps showing why. More from ESPN Stats and Information: “Kyle Korver continues to be hot from behind the arc. After making 3-4 3-pt FG on Friday, Korver is now 17-30 from behind the 3-pt line this postseason. Of players with a minimum of 30 attempts, Korver’s 56.7 3-pt FG pct is the 5th highest by a player in a single postseason in NBA history.”

I have to admit, I want Kyle shooting every time he touches the rock. I have total confidence in him.

Chicago’s D did it’s job on Joe Johnson (10 points, 4-for-12), Al Horford (10 points, 5-for-12) and Jamal Crawford (7 points, 3-for-7). Josh Smith had 17 points and 13 rebounds, but the Bulls lured him into shooting an awful lot of outside jumpers, which are the shots you want Smith taking.

Jeff Teague had another big game: 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Here’s the thing, though, and I mean this with all due respect. Teague is benefitting from a defense that is keyed in to shut down Atlanta’s primary scoring threats. It’s opening up a lot of opportunities for him. Rose keeps getting caught turning his head to see if his teammates need help, and the other Bulls aren’t switching off as aggressively as necessary when Rose get picked off because they seem more worried about their primary assignments.

I’m not trying to take anything away from Teague. He’s been really good. A major plus (and surprise) for the Hawks. But, like I said, the Bulls are trying to stop Johnson, Crawford, Horford and Smith. That’s creating chances for Teague.

Anyway, this was a great win, and (hopefully) a nice “back on track” game for the Bulls. After they lost Game 1, I was kind of dreading Games 2 and 3. Now I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in Game 4.

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

8 Responses to Round 2 Game 3: Bulls 99, Hawks 82

  1. Dude May 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    That’s more like it! I was getting worried about Derrick. Not just the ankle, seemed like he was wearing down mentally a little. To carry a team to 62 wins for the whole season at 22, handle the all the increased expectations, pressure, and doubters and still bring it in the playoffs when teams are focusing on you? Totally understandable. Doesn’t matter how much talent a player has, that is a lot to ask. Just can’t doubt this kid…

    PS. I love what he said at halftime: They’re giving me whatever I want. Just hope that the Hawks don’t start delivering some Jeff Foster fouls on him.

  2. Anonymous May 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    from englewood to mvp… congratulations drose

  3. Inception May 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Matt, good point regarding Teagues.

    we def needed this win….i thought Booz got off to a good start, but of course, he had to pick up early fouls.

    i still think we need to pick up a W for game 4 and erase any hope they might get if the series were tied at 2-2.

    Leffty May 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    The Bulls bested the hawks yet again because of D-Rose’s MVP-like performance in Game Three. He dropped 44 points on 59.3% shooting to go along with seven assists. Not to be overlooked, though, are Joakim Noah (15 rebounds, 8 offensive) and Taj Gibson (13 points, 11 rebounds off the bench). They helped offset another poor showing from Carlos Boozer. Check it out:

    Scottie Pimpin May 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    funny clip evan….yo dee rose is the south side kid with ice in his veins and all that, but can we get some jo noah highlights too ?


    BoppinBob May 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Matt, while I agree with you mostly, I do not think that the Bulls proved anything yet. They need to put together back to back games where they dominate their opponents regardless of the adjustments that the opponents make to prove they are the best in the league.

    I agree fully with your evaluation of Teague’s success. He is capitalizing on the focus of the Bulls defense being else where, good for him and smart of the Bulls, let him shine, as long as the Bulls win.

    Everyone should lay off Boozer. His travails are not due to lack of effort. I think that Thibs is handling that situation very well. There is a very capable back-up for Boozer in Gibson and he is getting ample opportunity to shine and has been successful so far. Boozer is also being given the opportunity to play his way back into the regular rotation without hurting the teams effectiveness. Thibs is showing why Gar/Pax choose him and why he earned the COY.

  7. Inception May 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    yup, 2-2 and the pressure is back on CHI….3-1, we’ve got control and have a great opportunity to go for the kill back at the UC.

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