Some more notes from last night's comeback victory over the Hawks:
- Sam Smith has pretty much every quote in his gigantic recap, and there are a couple gems. My favorite may be this from a jesting Luol Deng: "I’ve had so many (game winners), I’ve got to go back and watch the tapes. Go back and see which one was my favorite." Deng may not have many game-winners, but as Bulls Confidential points out between last night and the Lakers game Luol is doing wonders to erase the stigma of being someone who disappears in the 4th quarter.
Luol isn't doing statistically much better (slight uptick in rebounding) this season, but his typically solid work over so many minutes may get him his first All-Star nod. The Bulls will undoubtedly have one of the top records in the conference and he's the most obvious candidate to be alongside Rose.
- Because Boozer and Noah certainly aren't playing at an All-Star level. I mentioned it in the recap that it's just not going to work this season if both guys don't play better. There's not many more outs than that, any cry for 'Amnesty' in-season doesn't know the rules and is just annoying at this point. Boozer will always get the most flak because when he's not producing on offense it just makes his defense more difficult to watch, but Noah isn't faring much better: while his effort and talent on that end far exceeds Boozer, he's simply fouling too much. So the Bulls now have both of their starting frontcourt members struggling on both ends of the court. Hey, they're 5-1, so that's...encouraging? But the Bulls outstanding frontcourt depth (and Thibs willingness to use it) is acting as much of a mask as it is a help. And I'm not sure of a way out of it, maybe try something subtle like phasing Boozer into more bench-mob units.
No Bulljive (you all should follow this blog) points out another key mitigating factor of the awesome comeback:
The Atlanta Hawks are the best "good" team to come from behind against. They are an erratic team (in effort and execution) on both ends of the court and boy, do they love to settle for lazy jumpers. This game proved to showcase these traits. The ATL started by moving the ball around with great force in the first and opened up the Bulls famed D. But, I guess that was working too well for them and they played H.O.R.S.E. for the most of the last three quarters.
I do think that if healthy (including Kirk Hinrich coming back, so he can blow 4th quarter moments instead of Teague) the Hawks are a really tough out in a 7-game series, they've proved they can at least hang with the best in the conference. The odds of them being all available and in sync by that time is doubtful though.
- Another great quote from Sam's recap that feeds the legend of Derrick Rose, from Al Horford:
We contained him the first three quarters, but there is a reason why he is the MVP. He made plays for his team. Not only him but Deng and the bigs stepped up and made big shots. I felt like we played a great game. We were right there with them. We dominated them for most of the game. Just Derrick Rose happened.
The Bulls were a bit fortunate to ride Rose for so many minutes Tuesday as the blowout win against Memphis allowed for more time to rest. That may not be the case tonight, so expect more than 4 minutes for John Lucas, which is a problem.
- And finally, as he was in town, the Kirk Hinrich return rumors must be put out there. Though it's not so much rumor as it is an inevitability. He'd likely help, but think to yourself if it's truly worth reading more of this.