Welcome back, Ty: Bulls 96, Hornets 85

Maybe all the Bulls needed was Tyrus Thomas.

Okay, I’m kidding. Kind of. But Chicago is now 4-2 with Tyrus in the lineup, as opposed to 7-15 without him. Some of the difference can be attributed to the added depth. For all his faults, Thomas has the potential to explode for 20 points, 10 rebounds and several game-changing defensive plays on any given night. Of course, he’s never done that consistently for any significant length of time…but he can do it. Clearly it’s better to have a player like that available for active duty than watching games from the bench in street clothes.

And it’s a lot better when said player returns from forearm surgery to drop a team-high 21 points to go along with 9 boards, 2 assists, 2 blocks and some serious energy off the bench.

Of course, Tyrus being Tyrus, his performance always kind of makes me wonder. On the surface, his stats were terrific, but his plus minus score of zero tells me that the Bulls merely played the Hornets even when he was in the game. So while it’s tempting to bestow “Player of the Game” honors on Thomas, I can’t help but wonder whether this win wasn’t more the product of guys like Derrick Rose (14 points, 9 assists, 2 steals, +21), Joakim Noah (17 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks, +18) and Luol Deng (12 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, 2 blocks, +17). They have been the Bulls “Medium-sized Three” this season, and Chicago played its best ball last night when they were on the floor.

That’s not to demean Ty’s effort (which was considerable), nor his results (which were fantastic all things considered).  He missed 22 games only to return and play great in an important win. The Bulls really needed that lift off the bench. They sure didn’t get it from Brad Miller (5 minutes, 2 points, zero rebounds, 1 assist, -4), John Salmons (2 points, 1-for-5, 1 assist, -7), Jannero Pargo (2 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, -2) or James Johnson (6 points, 1 rebound, -11). In many ways, Thomas didn’t just anchor Chicago’s bench. He was the bench. And he almost matched the point/rebound total of New Orleans’ reserves (24/12) all by himself.

While we’re talking about Tyrus, le’s talk about his shot selection. Ty finished 10-for-17 for an exemplary 58 percent shooting night. Per usual, he killed inside (5-for-7 on layups, 3-for-3 on dunks) but stunk it up from the outside (2-for-8 on jumpers). Thomas almost always does his best work close to the basket, and for the most part, that’s where he needs to remain. I understand that the threat of his jumper can open things up for drives…but he really doesn’t need to take eight jump shots. Ever.

Pain-free in the Paint:
Ty’s work inside helped Chicago outrebound New Orleans 51-34 (including 10-3 on the offensive glass) and outscore them by an astounding 54-16 in the paint. The Bulls are usually in the red in both categories. Being +17 on the boards and +38 in the painted rectangle will usually lead to victory.

Unless something changes, this Bulls squad is not going to score a lot of points. Therefore, if they’re going to make something happen, it’s going to be with defense. Their D was spotty (at best) for much of the first half, mostly because Devin Brown went berserk on them. Brown scored all 22 of his points while going 6-for-6 from downtown in the first 24 minutes, during which Chicago trailed by as many as 11.

Once the Bulls clamped down on defense — which included some tough pressure on Chris Paul — they ripped off a crazy 42-13 run that spanned the second and third quarters. That run included holding the Hornets to only 9 third-quarter points. It’s amazing what putting hands in faces will do for a team.

(Of course, it’s also clear that New Orleans is 2-12 on the road for a reason…)

D-Rose versus CP3:
Let’s be honest: Derrick Rose has had a disappointing season so far.  However, he has been picking it up lately. Rose has scored 20 or more points in four of the last five games, including a regular season career-high 32 in a recent home win over the Atlanta Hawks. So far this month, Derrick has averaged 19.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists. He’s also had 6 or more assists in nine of the 13 games the Bulls have played in December. The numbers aren’t great, but they’re a definite improvement.

Likewise, Rose wasn’t great last night — he went 2-for-5 on layups and (gulp) 5-for-14 on jumpers. However, with a little help from his friends (see below), he held his own against Paul (15 points, 7 assists, 3 steals), and the Bulls played much better when he was running the show. Rose also had a couple great plays. During the third quarter, the ball was almost stolen from him, but he ripped it back and converted a tough floating jumper. Then, in the fourth, Rose nearly lost the ball again before regaining possession and finding Kirk Hinrich for an open three-pointer (go here and fast forward to the 1:45 mark).

Great players can play great without having great stats. That’s kind of what D-Rose did last night.

TrueHoop Network:
Ryan Schwan of Hornets247: “Give credit to the Bulls. In the third, they stuck Hinrich on Paul, and as soon as Paul crossed the three point line, sent a big man out to meet him. Their bigs were aggressive, but also recovered quickly when he passed to the Hornets big, almost always getting back into position to contest attempts by West or Songaila. A solid, determined defensive effort.”

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

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8 Responses to Welcome back, Ty: Bulls 96, Hornets 85

  1. Mahmoud December 27, 2009 at 7:15 pm #

    I still say that we trade Tyrus if at all possible, while he still has value, but last night’s performance was definitely a big lift.

    It might also be because he doesn’t have tired legs, seeing as how he’s only played like four games this year. But last night was a typical Tyrus night, launching up jumpers one play and making sweet dunks and blocks the next. When Ty does the latter, he’s extremely effective. One or two jumpers a game is good, just to let the defense know he can hit it.

  2. cavendish.lamore@gmail.com'
    cavendish December 27, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    I disagree with you about Tyrus. Plus/minus can be a useful tool but has it’s flaws. Those 2 jump shots Ty dropped in the 4th came at a key moment that helped seal the game, but you’d never learn that from a stat. And no one has ever accused Ty of having low self-confidence, something this Bulls squad is certainly in need of. Couple that with his shot blocking (those two early ones may have set the tone) and he brings a swagger the Bull’s just haven’t had for a while.

  3. Luis Rivera December 27, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

    We’re Back!!!

  4. mjlynch2@gmail.com'
    Mike Lynch December 27, 2009 at 7:57 pm #

    This was from TrueHoop the other day. It’s about Josh Smith, but ties in nicely to your comments about Tyrus’s shot selection:

    “One of the funnier anecdotes from the 2009 postseason came by way of Sekou Smith, who reported that Mike Woodson and Mike Bibby had a spat on the bench after the Hawks coach expressed his displeasure over a decision by Bibby late in a possession against Cleveland to pass the ball to inveterate shooter Josh Smith for an open 24-foot jumper. Bibby snapped back at his coach: “If you don’t want me to throw to him put him somewhere else,” Bibby shouted. “He’s wide [@*&$%] open. Wide open. What do you want me to do? If you don’t want him shooting that then put him somewhere else. You tell him.””

    That’s the key for Tyrus. Don’t run the high screen pick and pop with him. Don’t put him 20 ft away from the hoop where he’s wide open. He needs to be down on the baseline. The Bulls should run back doors, pin down screens and short curls for Tyrus. Just run him at the hoop, and if it ain’t there, Jo sets a screen and he curls and runs at the hoop again. 3-5 alley oops per game. Minimum.

  5. james December 28, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    +/- is the most deceiving stat out there. Take it w/ a bucketful of salt, unless it’s “adjusted +/-” which is a bit more informative.

  6. usmcroc22@msn.com'
    Rocky December 28, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    I’m not trading Tyrus unless its for Bosh or another dynamic young player like Anthony Randolph. He’s a restricted free agent and could be a safety signing just in case we can’t lure Chris Bosh to town.

  7. wannafanta365@aim.com'
    Wanna Fanta December 28, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    I agree with Rocky here. Tyrus Thomas has the energy we need to wake the team up and win games. I actually think we potentially have a really good team here in Chicago (OK not REALLY good, but they’re good). And to get there, we need to improve:

    1. Energy – I see it sometimes, but sometimes I don’t. The energy needs to flow and improve. Potential energy is a big plus I see in this team. They just need to harness it and keep it all the time.
    2. Consistency – Sometimes, the Bulls are doused in gasoline and set on fire with a flame thrower (I’m saying that they’re playing really well). But sometimes, they’re just not there. When they’re out of it, it’s like watching a pile of rocks write a novel – NOTHING GETS DONE. They need to be consistent and stay hot. An example was that depressing Kings game. They were on fire and even got to a 35 point lead AND THEN THEY LOST!!! They need to keep the fire burning all game, every game.
    3. Shooting jumpers. This is pretty self explanatory. This is a pothole in the team, and why I (and a lot of other Bulls fans) think we need a nice juicy free agent. Not any nice juicy free agent, but a nice juicy free agent who’s a flamin’ box of Juicy Juice when shooting jumpers. This will keep the other team guessing. When we keeping scoring close to the net, it gets trite and predictable.
    4. Confidence – Another self explanatory one. When we lose a few in a row, the team’s confidence really goes down the drain. When the confidence is down, they play worse. When we play worse, we lose more. When we lose more, we lose confidence. LOGIC LOOP!!!!
    6. Coaching – Yeah, I know I skipped 5. I just think this one is so important that it should take up two numbers. Vinny’s going, and, in theory, it sounds like a great decision for the team. Of course, communism sounds good in theory, too, but the Soviet Union collapsed. The reason I’m bringing up the concept of collapse is that while the Bulls are looking for a replacement for VDN, the players on the team are going to know that he’s on his way out. This could give them a false sense of confidence, or it could completely throw they’re game away. They could disregard VDN’s advice even when it’s correct because they don’t see him as an authoritative figure anymore. Tough situation to be in – for the entire Bulls franchise.

    I know there is more, but I have a cramp in my thumb and it’s really distracting. Haha, I know you didn’t need to know that but w/e.



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