The Bulls were definitely in the right thinking they could afford to rest Derrick Rose for Tuesday night's game with two off-days coming up, but it turned out especially well for them in that even a Rose-less team can obliterate whatever attempt at defense the Phoenix Suns put out there. The Bulls set a season high for quarter (39), half (67) and total (118) in what turned out to be a complete laugher.
Looking at the Suns roster it's easy to see the defensive holes, especially in the frontcourt. And while Steve Nash had himself a very nice game, the way he licks his hands before retrieving the inbounds pass made it look like he was literally just waiting for the defensive possession to be over so he could go to (half) work. Even when they set the pace and created some mismatches early, the non-Nash Suns are just good enough to attempt good looks as a byproduct of their point guard, but not nearly good enough to make enough of those attempts to mask their D.
So there's probably not much we can take long-term for this game, but it was a fantastic night at the United Center with a lot of standout performances:
- Can someone aggressively take fadeaway jumpshots? Carlos Boozer was on fire in the first half with 26 points, and though they often came on the jumpers that are often maligned here, he was actively creating space and callling for the ball, something we've rarely seen, yet so needed when Rose doesn't play. The Suns have literally no standard PF to match up with Boozer, and he quickly realized it.
- CJ Watson may have had what will be his best game of the season, though if Rose stays out I suppose 33 minutes won't be that uncommon. Getting 23 points on 12 shots will be tough to repeat though. He also didn't commit a single turnover.
- Rip Hamilton returned and started, and not only chipped in 11 points but had 6 assists as well. His ability to move the ball continues to surprise.
- Joakim Noah hit 2 straight tornadoes in the first quarter and didn't look back, ending up with an old-school (well, hopefully not) Noah line of 13 and 12. Again, won't proclaim all the issues are gone with him and Boozer given the opponent, but taking advantage of weak frontcourts is better than the alternative.
- Luol Deng only played 27 minutes! And a happy birthday to Thibs.
This was just a perfect night for the Bulls. Through aggression and ball-movement they were able to shoot open jumpers or cut unobstructed to the rim all night. You could even say this was the first of 3 off nights.