Hooray mostly not terrible basketball! The Bulls finally looked like the team we expected them to be tonight, as they put a thorough beat down on the lowly Utah Jazz.
The reason for the caveat in the first paragraph comes from the fact that the Bulls still had a horrible time hanging on to possession of the ball, which is a trend that just will not die.
On the plus side, despite committing 15 turnovers in the first half, with a whopping 10 of those coming in the second quarter, the Bulls were up by so many points in the fourth quarter that they were able to consistently run sets in an attempt to get Luol Deng the final assist he needed for his first career triple double. Of course, both of the passes he tried to get it on were to Nazr Muhammed who proceeded to brick an open mid range jumper and an open layup, because well, he’s old. Nazr did have an absurd put-back dunk, though, so that was fun.
The Bulls were also able to severely limit their turnovers in the second half committing only 5, one of which was in garbage time late in the fourth quarter. It was that ball security, combined with vastly improved shooting (52.8% from the field tonight), which allowed the Bulls to cruise to the easy victory. The Bulls also limited the Jazz to a woeful 29.4% mark from the field, which is consistent with how bad Utah has been so far to start the season and what we’d expect from the Bulls going up against a bad offensive team.
Deng had a great game, as he tossed up 19 points on just 9 shots, got to the line for 5 free throws, pulled in 11 boards, dished 9 assists, and snagged 5 steals. The last number really stood out watching the game, as Luol was just ballhawking all night long. He seemed to be living in the passing lanes, making life hell for the Jazz. Considering the margin of victory, though, Lu played way too many minutes. Deng ended up finishing the game with 38 minutes played, while Taj Gibson was the only other Bull to reach 30 minutes on the night. Just not great minutes management there. I guess you can explain it away by saying the coaching staff wanted him to get a shot at that first career triple double and also, he was just having such a great game, I doubt he would have wanted to come out, even if he’d been asked.
Derrick Rose had a solid, if unspectacular night, chipping in 12 points in 27 minutes, despite shooting just 3 of 8 from the field. He got to the line 5 times, which boosted his overall efficiency, though his 4 turnovers in his limited playing time are still too many.
The Bulls continued their trend of getting a ton of shots in the painted area, on their way to a total owning of the inside. The Bulls scored 56 of their 97 points in the paint, to the Jazz’s respective 22 points there. The Bulls point total inside mirrored their shot distribution as they took 47 of their 72 shot attempts in the restricted area right near the rim. Carlos Boozer got 7 of his 11 attempts in the restricted area and was 4-7 there, on his way to a very efficient 18 points on 11 shots to go with his 10 rebounds. Joakim Noah got 8 of his 9 looks from the restricted area and he converted 6 of them on his way to 14 points and 8 rebounds in just 25 minutes of play. Keeping with the trend, Taj Gibson also got plenty of looks right near the basket, putting up 10 attempts in the restricted area, and though he was only able to convert on 4 of them, he did a great job of getting deep post position, sealing his man, and getting good looks.
Over the long run, those shots in close will fall, and if the Bulls keep getting them at such a high rate, provided they can keep their turnovers under control, they’re going to win a lot of games, just like we all hoped and expected.
Statistical support for this post provided by NBA.com