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Bulls vs. Celtics: Size advantage, Luol returning to form, and Joakim Noah the quote machine

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Strangely there aren't a ton of great Luol pics from this game. (Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE)
Strangely there aren't a ton of great Luol pics from this game. (Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE)

That was a fun watch Thursday night. Though maybe I'm saying that because I was able to pay attention more to the 2nd half than the first. But seeing matchups like Deng vs. Pierce, Noah vs. Garnett, human decency vs. Rondo always warms the heart.

Especially with the feeling that even without Derrick Rose (no non-update in this post!) the Bulls are simply too big for the Celtics not to always be in the game. An OReb% edge of 33%-19%, 8 blocks, and countless altered shots showed that advantage all night.

Some other notes from hopefully the last Rose-less game of the season:

Luol Deng was the man with his 6-8 shooting in the fourth and lockdown defense late on Paul Pierce. It wasn't so much that he was scoring, but as Bulls Confidential notes it was how he was making it happen, creating space off the dribble and using his length to get off those jumpers. Granted, it's still mid-range jumpers that have a fluctuating success rate, but this is better than other good post-injury Luol games where he simply hit a few standstill 3-pointers.

Deng himself noticed a difference physically:

I definitely was more aggressive than I was in the first half, But we moved the ball well. My shot felt great. My midrange for the last three or four games has really been feeling a lot better. The wrist is getting better. It's either that or I'm getting used to playing with it.

And as ESPNChicago reminds us, the team loves Luol even more than we do.

Meanwhile from the Boston side of things, Doc Rivers was peeved, using Thibs' rope analogy (or whatever it is...Doc likely came up with it first considering Thibs was a Boston assistant) and other common tropes to question his team's effort.

I had to use two timeouts in the first half to remind us that we actually had an NBA game to play and that we needed to play. I thought that was the worst loss for us this year, with the way we approached the game..."We were cool tonight. We were the cool Boston Celtics, that's who we looked like. Walking the ball up [and] we couldn't get the ball inbounds. No one wanted to work. We were the cool Celtics, and there's nothing about me that's cool, I can tell you that. We don't play basketball cool.

I think the C's are just screwed personnel-wise when it comes to 'effort' play like rebounding, but there were certainly some turnovers and defensive lapses (coverage on Deng, letting CJ walk into an open three-pointer) that could be tied to them being 'cool'. Or simply tired. As Bulls By the Horns notes, the Celtics thin bench really hurt them in the game with their regulars like Garnett being forced to play heavy minutes.

And all hail Joakim Noah, quote machine and pretty good basketball player:

In the first half, we played with our heads down. Basketball is a game of momentum. When things aren't going our way, our mentality has to be, 'We got to fix this fast.' We can't have the poopy face. Sometimes we play with the poopy face.

That on top of his post-game interview on TNT where he said "Beating Boston...there's nothing better" just shows how great Noah is at being all Noah-y.