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What a large group of somewhat-above-average ballers we have

I thought Boylan did a decent job in a pretty tough situation managing the new starters, new additions, and lots of new lineup combinations. I thought he made one slip-up in the 2nd half not bringing Tyrus Thomas back quick enough: With Noah out and deciding to go small with Gooden at center, Boylan subbed in Nocioni with a half-minute remaining in the 3rd, Tyrus didn't go back in until there was 6:47 remaining in the game, and with the lead swollen to 92-78.

Of course, he promptly came in and drew a foul. The aforementioned absence preceding that was memorable because Tyrus was playing so well: jumpers, dunks, a nice jump-hook...enough to make the ESPN announcers have their 'I didn't know he could do that' reactions a few times over. He finished with only two fouls, the same two that ended his first stint far too early, and the second straight game where the 2nd foul was on a bad screen. It makes me believe that it's merely bad luck instead of reckless play that are getting him these early fouls, so going forward as a starter (we can hope) it'll be something that can be avoided. Either way it's bad game management by Boylan that Tyrus finished with those two fouls and still managed only 26 minutes, with those final 6 coming after the game had been pretty much decided.

Gooden and Hughes both looked serviceable, but you could see the problems in shot selection that Cavs fans had with their games. Hughes did go to the rim in transition but at least for this game wasn't the slasher he bills himself, his offense came on mostly jumpshots. He made them tonight, but when those don't fall (like they usually don't), his game quickly goes from serviceable to pretty bad, and I'm fine with his situation (behind Hinrich, Thabo, Gordon) until he unleashes some dormant floor game from 3 years ago. Jumpshots were also frequent with Gooden, although you can see he's at least an option for temporary post offense, and had a hell of a follow-finish that Ben Wallace left back in 2004.

The best line of the night: Chris Duhon, DNP-CD! So we got that going for us, and even with those deadweight minutes freed up you can see a logjam in the backcourt, although all had 20-30 minutes tonight. Ben Gordon in particular didn't have a good game, initially not getting shots and eventually just forcing them. It'll be a process to figure out who plays better with whom, especially when Hughes knows the offense enough to run the point. But big kudos to Boylan for at least knowing that there's too much talent to waste some floor time on Duhon.

Lost in the shuffle of the new additions was the continually shaky return of Luol Deng, who still doesn't look altogether, and it's amazing how he seemed an afterthought when on the floor. That said, I'd just get him back in the starting lineup, he's still good enough and it's not like he'll learn some new type of off-the-bench game first, and if he doesn't look good just sub him out and move Thabo to the 3. I thought Nocioni played well tonight, but with some minutes available at the 4 (especially if Gooden has to play some Center, which looks like will happen), might as well keep his minutes as a backup frontcourt player to make room for Thabo, who was great tonight and also (with Tyrus) was off the court a bit too much when that 2nd half was slipping away.

So the Bulls let the game drift and then get too far away from them eventually, getting blizted from the 3-point line and not getting to the free throw line themselves. But the Rockets are a red-hot team and with Yao presented the type of situation (especially with Noah hurt) that meant a lot of Aaron Gray, which is unbefitting of a team that will now like to go small (ish, it's not like Noah/Tyrus/Gooden is the same as tiny-ball) and fast. And entertaining, even in this loss.