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Wizards 101, Bulls 95: The new dynamic shows its limitations

Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Chicago 90.0 105.6 49.4% 23.1 24.4 15.6
Washington 112.2 52.5% 19.8 31.6 16.7


No real surprise that the Bulls miss the real Joakim Noah, and this current setup where he gets a handful of minutes is alarming, since it indicates that the Bulls don't think more rest will help any. And from what everyone says about these severe Plantar Fasciitis injuries, it sounds like only season-long rest would be the cure-all anyway, and that's not happening. Sam Smith had some interesting work about Noah and the locker room dynamic after the game, explaining the subtle way he wanted to tell the world he wants to play more.

But I don't think the Bulls are wrong in easing him back in, as Noah does not look his old self, punctuated by the 2nd straight night of a blown wide-open dunk attempt. A little more lift and that goes in, or a defensive rebound is snared, and who knows if that Noah comes back at all this season.

Which is a bit scary, as (and further pointed out by this solid recap fanpost from overnight) the Rose/Hinrich/Deng/Taj/Miller starting lineup looked exposed as out-athlete(d) by the post-deadline Wizards, and I guess high 'BBIQ' (the 'I' stands for imaginary?) doesn't help when someone's jumping over your head. JaVale McGee, Al Thornton, James Singleton, and especially Andray Blatche made the Bulls look slow at points tonight, and the Bulls lost the start of both halves.

Yet when I saw Hakim Warrick (athletic, sure. but slight) abused by the taller Blatche in the 4th, I was also clamoring for Taj to get back into the game (the starters were curiously out until around 5:30 to go in that quarter) to at least try something different. Noah missing and Tyrus exiled have made the Bulls less formidable in their post defense, and the suddenly weary incumbent frontcourt players won't be getting any kind of schedule break (playing bad teams, sure, but often) until next week.

But beyond some defensive issues (as advertised), Warrick and fellow newcomer Flip Murray impressed in my first chance to really see both. I can understand why the Bulls (and Vinny) like either compared to their departed contemporaries: Warrick may be of similar effectiveness on offense to Tyrus, but he certainly looks more polished, and I think his actions on that end are at least more deliberate and sensible to where the team knows how to react, whereas you never quite knew what Tyrus was going to do (even if it turned out accidentally beautiful). And while Flip Murray is currently buoyed by a shooting surge making him seem a bit better than he is, you can tell the difference in transition between him and ol' jab-step Salmons. 

You can also tell the difference on defense when the Bulls go small and Flip is the 3rd guard instead of Salmons, as I think the latter would've done a better job on Al Thornton in a particular late-game possession. But in spite of the new-player boost, the Bulls did sacrifice a bit of talent at the deadline, and it looks to be especially on the defensive end. The Bulls could stand to sacrifice that bit for help putting the ball in the hole, but maybe that's only the case with a healthy Noah. His pseudo-absence really throws everything a bit off, Vinny's forced to mix up the rotation more (at least James Johnson had the best stint of his young career last night), and he's stuck by either being too slow with the starters, or too small with the newcomers.

All that said, the Bulls could've still stole this one late (and that'd make it 5 in a row, so it's hard to be too down overall) with Derrick Rose turning it on (with FTAs even!) and looking to take over down the stretch. The Bulls were only down one after a Flip Murray transition three, but then didn't score in the final 2 minutes, with Rose not getting to the rim and instead adding one of 4 missed three-point attempts by the team in that stretch. Not as effective as 'give the ball to Rose and get out the way' stuff the Bulls need at time, though not only needed in the 4th but couldn't have hurt in an awful start to the 3rd quarter either: at one point they had 3 straight traveling violations, after last game when they had 3 TOs all night.