Some takeaways from last night's victory over the Kings...
Already commented on Noah's great night and Boozer's very-good one. And the general ugliness of it all: as Steve Aschburner said today, "You want entertainment, call a clown. You want to win, the Bulls coach is your guy."
The bench mob isn't replaced, it's dead
At least for now, gone is the time where Thibs would use hockey-style full replacements of lineups to get time in for his bench. Both Deng and Noah were out there for very long stretches (totaling over 40 minutes each), and there wasn't a single moment where there wasn't at least one starter in the game. That's more traditional, of course, but it also speaks to the confidence Thibs still has to gain in using some of his subs. It was nice to see Marco Belinelli hit his only 3-point try (he was fouled on another, which was just bizarre), but he also had to be pulled in his 2nd-half stint after getting torched by Marcus Thornton. Nazr Mohammed played 3 first-half minutes, got 2 fouls, and never came back. That may be pretty common despite his strong preseason: he is more likely to be Kurt Thomas instead of Omer Asik in terms of a role this year.
Worried about Luol Deng
Deng is an American/British/SouthSudanese hero, but he also shot terribly last night (3-13, 0-3 from three, 1-3 from the line). And with him it's not just 'one game'. He struggled in his shooting after suffering the wrist injury last season. And in the Olympics, even though he scored a lot of points and gave a "do I look like I need surgery?" statement after doing so, he did so on bad percentages. Playing 40+ minutes on it surely won't allow much for recovery, and I may be insanely looking for this, but: it still seems at times he favors the left arm during games. I'm at the the opposite point of giving him the benefit of the doubt: I'm worried until I see a long string of better shooting.
Welcome back Kirk, I guess
Seeing Hinrich lazily shoulder-launch a bunch of bricks really took me back. SBNChicago says it best:
Hinrich was Hinrich: gritty, tough, bad at shooting. He finished 1-for-7 from the floor on Wednesday to end with three points and seven assists, though I'm sure somewhere a newspaper columnist is praising his leadership. Such is life.
I will give him credit for something: that he can really run a fast-break well. Teams haven't figured out yet they can just run to the wings and force Kirk to try and make a layup, but that's their problem. It doesn't seem like a unique skill, but then Nate Robinson proves what not to do in a similar situation (or in the half-court, for that matter. Wasn't a big fan of Nate last night).
- As Bulls by the Horns points out, the Bulls had a great advantage on the freethrow line (though I agree with Bulls Confidential that they were given some questionable calls). This was the case in the preseason and will be an unexpected benefit given the current makeup of the roster.
- I mentioned the Kings ineptitude in the recap, but special shout to former Bulls 1st-rounder James "Jimmy Johns" Johnson. The man drafted before Taj Gibson did a solid job defensively but always tries to do two too-many things on offense. Not only did he shoot 1-8 but also had 4 turnovers, and the Kings were -13 in his 21 minutes in the lineup. He and the rest of his team had a crazy number of jump-whoops-better-pass moments.
- Jimmy Butler is usually purely a Deng-backup, but Thibs deployed him as a defensive stopper alongside Deng in the 2nd half. And that's really all he's suited for: he attempted one shot in 11 minutes. He did make it! The call for more Jimmy time is directly related to trying to rest Deng more, I am not as on-board with him getting two-guard minutes.