Preseason game one reaction, plus the Bulls London report

Just watched Friday night's scrimmage against the Pacers, though due to Comcast being Comcast I didn't see a majority of the first quarter. Which actually mattered in a game where the Bulls starting five were healthy and active, yet their two big reserves (Hinrich and Miller) were not. And with Jannero Pargo also out, it meant lots of Lindsey Hunter time, an environment which I don't really think it's fair to evaluate anyone else on the court. 

(though remember when Hunter got some burn in the greatest first-round exit of all time?)

It was good to see the Bulls again, especially (for me, anyway) Deng and Thomas. Luol didn't shoot well, but had 9 FTAs and in general looked healthy. It's not as if I was expecting him to add something major to his game, and I'll be happy with just seeing him play without a broken leg for the time being. And him and Salmons (looked exactly the same, which is good) showed for a game that they can at least give Rose help scoring points, which I feel will be a theme of anxiety this season.

And as far as Thomas, it was just good to see from a familiarity standpoint. It was after one ill-advised step-back jumper and then a couple possessions later seeing him power towards the basket for a dunk that had marked the point where I really felt re-immersed in Bulls-watching season. 

(It also took about 15 seconds before I was tired of Neil Funk...)

Unfortunately Thomas had to leave the game due to a concussion, though he's practicing in London so there appears to be no long-term issues. It will likely be another trying season when it comes to watching and evaluating Tyrus, but I will just get it out of the way early that I think it's ridiculous when anyone says Tyrus shouldn't shoot jumpers. He has to if he's going to be a big-minute PF on this team, and he can shoot. But he needs to launch quickly and decisively, not making things harder than they have to be with shots of the off-the-dribble or step-back variety.

"Rise of" Taj Gibson was an unlikely contributor on Friday, though maybe even Stacy King feels silly (doubt it...) declaring Taj a possible 'steal of the draft' after a nice outing against a depleted Pacers front line. But for the lowest of low expectations I had for Taj, if he merely looks like he belongs in the league with smart decisions and a decent 15 foot jump shot, that's good enough. Heck, it's been keeping Malik Allen in the league.

James Johnson, on the other hand, didn't meet that benchmark of 'looking like an NBA player'. Looked lazy and sloppy at times, most noticeably in two late close-outs where he fouled jump shooters. I'll have more on the camp-fodder FAs later, but in general they're of little consequence anyway, though perhaps not with the little injuries piling up and the tax line being far to close.

But it's early all-around, obviously. The Bulls are now in London for their preseason game Tuesday,  and while there's no updates on Miller or Hinrich's injuries, there's actually been more possibly added to those not going to play on Tuesday. John Salmons didn't make the trip for personal reasons, and Rose is nursing an ankle and achillies injury he suffered in the Pacer game. Rose actually played a bit after that injury, so I doubt it's something that will keep him from showcasing his game on foreign soil, unless the Bulls are being extremely cautious.

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