Bulls 99, Thunder 90: Even with Noah and Rose off, Bulls on

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Oklahoma City 93.0 96.8 37.8% 34.1 25.0 14.0
Chicago 106.5 51.1% 11.5 37.2 16.1

 

That was a great win, and I thought a fun game overall (outside of the last few minutes*). The Bulls managed to comfortably beat a good team with Rose and Noah each having off nights.

Noah was limited all game due to foul trouble, finishing with only 20 minutes, yet managing 12 rebounds (6 offensive) in that time.

Rose won his marquee matchup with contemporary Russell Westbrook by virtue of his team winning: neither player had much of a game. Rose struggled shooting the ball but was excellent early in the game creating opportunities, and did wind up with 9 assists. He even held his own on the boards 4 to Westbrook's 5, and though Westbrook had a few steals off of Derrick, he had 6 turnovers himself and shot as poorly as the rest of his team.  Kevin Durant continued his poor season from beyond the arc, finishing 1-5, and while he wound up with a nice statistical night, most of his damage was done with the Bulls already in control. Durant was even benched early (with Jeff Green, who stinks) in the 3rd quarter which was a reaction to poor play, not injury.

Derrick also won a jump ball over Westbrook, so that settles it: Rose is MVP and Westbrook is overrated!

So on a night where neither Rose and Noah could contribute their norm, it's so great to see that they now have consistent help in Carlos Boozer. Boozer was huge early, getting easy looks off of rolls to the rim, and eventually expanding out to jumpers and just being someone they could give the ball to in working an entire possession. That's a dimension the Bulls haven't had in a long time. It helps that Jeff Green is trash and lost him several times on the baseline.

What Boozer's early surge also did was relegate Luol Deng (usually the guy who the Bulls like to 'get going early') to the background, but Lu wound up with a very good game himself. Tasked with guarding Durant all night (and playing 40 minutes), he managed to finish with 19 and 8, showing nice aggression in attacking the rim and the offensive glass. It's the role that he'll have to get used to now being a 3rd option, and while his shots will suffer he can still help a lot.

The bench played very well tonight also, highlighted in the 2nd quarter by a scintillating run by Kyle Korver with the starting lineup (and any hang-ups with his defense was a non-issue at that time, having to only 'guard' Thabo, who still blows), with a couple 3-pointers helping the Bulls open their first big lead of the night.  Ronnie Brewer also had a great first half, as did Omer Asik. Heck, even Keith Bogans almost made one think he is justified in the starting lineup over Brewer or Korver with 6 first-half points...almost.

Things didn't go as great in the second half for that group (there were moments, a huge Bogans 3 amongst them), but while the Thunder were able to hang around with a massive free-throw advantage, it really was over once Rose had his best stretch: a blow-by Westbrook and beautiful finish, and then a running half-court shot to close out the 3rd quarter with a 16 point Bulls lead. (He was legitimately pumped after that shot, and I was a bit bummed to see him them sitting to start the 4th) The way the Thunder were shooting tonight (and the Bulls defense/rebounding contributing to that, no doubt) they were not going to make up that deficit.

*not much needs to be said about the abomination that the 100-pts=BigMacs thing anymore, it's a running joke. I hope most of the people in the stands are in on the joke a bit too, but it still sounds bad when you hear boos after a great effort. It was the culmination of a bad last dozen possessions, but the game was never really in doubt no matter how sloppy the Bulls looked on offense in that span.

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