The guards may not have had as much of a scoring impact as the bigs did on Wednesday night, but there was a playmaking impact from both Kirk Hinrich and Richard Hamilton. They combined for 17 assists against only a single turnover on the night. The usual action Rip provided off of screens was deadly all night, as their rotations would be late and Rip would make the right pass. It eventually forced the Magic to simply switch on those screens, which caused different problems for Orlando. I often wonder why teams trap Rip so aggressively, outside of it simply exhibiting good defensive habits: would an opponent be better off letting Hamilton fire off a bunch of 18-footers? Ideally it's not an either-or proposition where the alternative is a dunk, but when rotations are poor that's what happens, and did so in that game.
The Bulls have been a relatively high-turnover team this season (12th in the league) but Orlando is league-worst in the percentage of their defensive possessions resulting in a turnover. The Bulls only coughed it up on 8% of their possessions Wednesday, which is outstanding.
Another interesting Hamilton note was that he was off the Bogans plan for the first time since coming back from injury, playing the final 6 minutes of the game and 30 minutes overall. And, perhaps not coincidentally, Marco Belinelli had a second straight poor game in his dwindling playing time. Bulls Confidential is already worried that Marco will see some of the progress he's made as a starter regress, and figures though Rip may be playing better now, he's not playing as well as Marco was. I agree that Belinelli does give them a better look (he does a lot of what Rip can, but with 3-point range) but am not ultimately that concerned with that decision at the SG spot. Belinelli hasn't really outplayed Hamilton, and Rip may not only also look worse off the bench he could mentally shut it down as well. That's not an attitude you really want to cater too, but (whether it's a good thing or not) they're looking to help Rip's trade value, and neither he nor Belinelli is the long-term answer at the position regardless.
Other things from the game:
- I mentioned in the recap the late Orlando tying-try that Gibson swatted out of bounds, but the Magic did obviously get another opportunity afterwards. Orlando Pinstriped Post goes into that play, and has quotes from Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn crediting Jimmy Butler (who was brought in for Hamilton on that possession) for busting up their plan.
- Immediately after the game I found it strange that Taj Gibson and Nikola Vucevic were so hug-y, but then read today from Sam Smith that the two were teammates at USC. Vucevic wound up having a decent game, his game-high rebound total of 12 nearly surpassing the times Stacey King said Boozer was having a 'field day' against him.