There’s not too much to say about this one. The Timberwolves have the worst record in the West. The Bulls have the best record in the East and demonstrated the kind of statistical domination you’d expect. This game was the NBA equivalent of somebody casually swatting a fly.
Chicago outshot Minnesota 50.6 percent to 41.2 percent (including 42.1 percent to 29.4 percent on threes), won the rebounding battle 50-34, and had 31 assists (on 41 field goals) to only 12 for the T-Wolves. The Bulls led by as many as 26 and won 108-91 while limiting the starters’ minutes (except Luol Deng, of course, who logged a game-high 36 minutes).
All this without Joakim Noah.
That the Bulls finished with an Offensive Rating of 116.8 wasn’t too surprising. The Timberwolves rank 25th in Defensive Rating (110.4) and appeared disinterested in playing defense for most of the night.
Some Random thoughts:
It was nice to see Carlos Boozer have a big night (24 points, 10-for-18, 14 rebonds, 4 assists). Boozington hadn’t scored that many points since February 23 or grabbed that many rebounds since January 12. So what’s the deal? Other than Carlos going up against a Minnesota frontcourt that seemingly has a serious medical allergy to defense?
ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell writes that Boozer tends to play better without Noah. Nick may have a point. If you peruse Boozer’s game log, you’ll notice his best statistical stretch of the season happened to coincide with Joakim’s long absence.
Said Boozer: ”It’s just a little different [with Noah off the floor]. Because Kurt [Thomas] is a pick and pop guy. And so it opens up spacing out there. Like you saw in the first quarter, they collapsed a little bit on me and gave him wide open jump shots. And as the game went along, they started getting closer and closer and closer to Kurt and it gave us more space to operate in the middle.”
Carlos may have a point. On offense, Noah is either in or around the paint trolling for offensive boards, or he’s on the perimeter looking to pass rather than shoot, which allows his defender to sag way off, which affects the amount of room Boozer has to work. I say this a lot, but basketball is a game of split-seconds. And the presence of an extra defender around the painted area ready to provide help or a quick double-team can significantly alter (read that: limit) a post player’s opportunities.
It’s something to think about.
The Bulls came out aggressive and got out to a quick start, leading 30-19 after 12 minutes. It was nice to see the team so focused and assertive in the early going, since that’s been a problem the last few games, and at various times throughout the season. That said, I’d like to see them do it against a playoff-caliber team, too.
Derrick Rose didn’t shoot particularly well from the field (5-for-14), which has been an ongoing trend since the All-Star break, but he went 9-for-9 from the free throw line and finished with 23 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds with only 1 turnover. One stat that jumps out of the box score is his nine three-point attempts. He hit four of them, which is a pretty good percentage as far as that goes.
However, Rose is averaging 6.1 three-point attempts per game this Month. That’s too many. For some perspective, Golden State’s Dorell Wright leads the league in thee-point attempts at…6.1 per game.
Most have you have probably heard that LeBron James said Derrick deserves to be the leading MVP candidate. Which is nice, I guess. But check out this extended quote:
“Right now, statistically, it’s probably one of the best years I’ve had. But we’ll see. The media kind of controls it. You’ve got some guys here that have done their job also. At one point, I thought Dirk was also [worthy] until he got hurt. But Derrick Rose definitely has gotten a lot of the exposure and a lot of the media attention because of the work he’s done. He’s playing some unbelievable basketball.”
Very careful and politcally correct. Points out how well he’s playing, acknowledges (and, perhaps, subtly criticizes) the media’s role in MVP selection and then praises Rose. Then, in what I’m sure is completely unrelated news, LeBron plays big minutes (43:49) in a blowout win over the dreadful Wizards, compiling more gaudy stats for his resume (35 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals).
I know I already mentioned this, but none of us want to see Deng playing 36 minutes in an obvious blowout. But what can we do? Thibs likes playing Lu and Lu likes playing.
Finally, can I just say I have a huge man-crush on Kurt Thomas? I was pretty underwhelmed when the Bulls signed him, but his consistency and professionalism have turned me into his biggest fan (or one of his biggest fans). I’m bummed he has to undergo carbon dating to determine his true age…I’d love to have four or five more seasons of this guy. I’ll settle for at least one more. How about it, Kurt?