WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!
That's preseason champions of course, as the Bulls wrapped up an 8-0 exhibition slate with a 94-89 victory over the Nuggets on Friday night. It didn't look like the Bulls would get to that undefeated preseason record early on, digging a 19-point hole thanks to some sloppy play and woeful shooting.
But the Bulls came out firing in the third quarter, exploding for 36 points and taking a six-point lead into the final frame. Things were tight in the fourth quarter, and Thibs gunned for that preseason championship by playing the starters until the final buzzer. #ThibsBall, am I right?
Carlos Boozer had a big game, scoring 24 points and knocking down several clutch shots down the stretch when the game was close. Boozer had 10 points in the final quarter, atoning for some really poor defense that Stacey King was quick to point out.
Luol Deng put forth another strong effort, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Deng had an interesting preseason, as while his shooting remained so-so, he made up for it with a ton of free throws (over seven a game). That may just be a product of the quick whistles in preseason, but maybe it becomes a trend?
This preseason was all about Derrick Rose though, and although he struggled with his shooting against the Nuggets (15 points on 5-of-15 overall and 0-of-4 from three), it's impossible not to call his exhibition performance as a whole a rousing success. Rose displayed no fear throughout the preseason and showed that his injury won't slow him whatsoever.
There are still some kinks to work out for Rose, and he's going to have his rough nights, but I'm pretty confident he's going to have an MVP-type season (I don't think he'll actually win the award) as long as he stays on the court. His final preseason numbers: 20.7 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 47.6 FG%, 44.4 3P%, 80.3 FT%, 64.1 TS%, 54.8 eFG%, 125.1 ORtg, 94.0 DRtg, 35.45 PER.
Not too shabby.
With the preseason in the books, the Bulls made their final roster cuts on Saturday. Despite Joakim Noah's lingering groin injury, the Bulls opted to waive Dexter Pittman (and D.J. White, who apparently was still around) and keep Mike James for the 13th roster spot.
That means the Bulls will go into the year with four point guards, which is kind of crazy to me considering the lack of frontcourt depth. But I guess this is what happens when Rose's backups are Hurt Kinrich and a raw youngster the coach doesn't seem to trust. Perhaps the Bulls really are shopping Marquis Teague, and the addition of James to the final roster could mean a trade is coming. We'll see.
Now let's get this season started.