I think Derrick Rose echoed what we all were thinking after the embarrassing loss to the Cavaliers on Monday night. The Bulls' play was fucking irritating. It was a dumpster fire and just flat out not enjoyable. But after a weird few days that featured a canceled practice, a silly ass rumor about Tom Thibodeau and an airing of grievances, the Bulls looked more like the Bulls in a 104-81 beat down of the reigning champion Spurs.
Rose took some criticism (unfairly) for his profanity laced tirade, and I heard/read stuff about him not being enough of a leader because he wasn't standing up for Thibodeau blah blah blah blah. Rose basically told the haterzzz to kiss his ass with a dynamite performance against the Spurs, putting up 22 points and five assists while shooting 9-of-16 from the field.
Rose was in attack mode from the get-go, and if you don't believe me just watch:
There was also this awful PUJIT three that literally had me saying "No, no, no YES" when Rose made it. So it really wasn't awful, because it went in:
11 of Rose's 16 shots came in the paint, and nine of them came at the rim. He only attempted two free throws, but he probably should have gotten a few more attempts. All in all, the dude played a superb offensive game, and he wasn't too bad on defense either.
Oh yeah, the defense! Much has been made of the Bulls' shitty defense of late, but it looked much better tonight. It helped that the Spurs didn't look very Spurs-y, but part of that was because the Bulls actually brought the requisite effort that's needed to play defense at a high level. They were rotating, challenging shots and communicating. A novel concept! In particular, Taj Gibson was a monster on the defensive end, and he put up a solid line of 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
All-Star Pau Gasol played well, notching 12 points and 17 rebounds. The Spurs didn't seem to attack Gasol that much in the pick-and-roll, but he looked much more active than he has of late, although that's not hard to do. This matchup against Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter seemed to favor Gasol, because they aren't all that mobile themselves and Pau was able to body them up in the post.
Kawhi Leonard was the only Spur to show up, and he scored 14 of his 16 points in the second quarter. Leonard helped keep the Spurs in the game in the first half, as the Bulls only led by by six points at halftime. But the third quarter was all Chicago, and the lead grew to 25 points in the third quarter.
Gregg Popovich waived the white flag at that point, going with his subs for the rest of the game. Thibs did his Thibs thing by playing Gasol, Gibson and Jimmy Butler deep into the fourth quarter, so all is well in Bulls World because we're able to complain about dumb minutes in a blowout victory again.
While there could be some teeth gnashing over those late minutes, Thibs did change up some things with the rotation. Tony Snell got the start over Kirk Hinrich, who narrowly missed going scoreless for a second straight game. Snell made an impact in his 34 minutes, both good and bad. Snell shot just 4-of-11 overall, went 0-of-6 from three and had a few awful turnovers, but he played hard and had a few nice buckets driving to the basket. I really can't say Snell is any good, but I'll take him being aggressive and at least trying to make things happen, even if it doesn't always work out.
We also had several Nazr Mohammed sightings. Mohammed was the first big off the bench in both halves, and he came in for Gasol in the first and third quarters. Gasol usually plays the entire first and third quarters so this was a change. We also saw Rose exit the game early in the first quarter and come back early in the second quarter. So different stuff!
When it was all over, six Bulls scored in double figures (Butler had nine of his 17 points in gar-bage time and Aaron Brooks had 15 off the bench) and the Spurs shot just 37.0 percent from the field. Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw combined to shoot 19 points on 8-of-31 shooting. This was just an awesome two-way performance, and Chicago needed it in the worst way.
The Bulls will have no time to rest, as they travel to Dallas to face a very good Mavericks team tomorrow. But for tonight, let's enjoy the hell out of this victory.
UPDATE: Something to keep an eye on. Maybe Rose just wanted an excuse to not play in a blowout, which is smart!:
Thibs "I have to check with the trainers on Derrick, but he said he was a little stiff." Rose played less than a minute in the 4th. #Bulls— Mark Carman (@thecarm) January 23, 2015
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Good job, Derrick!:
Rose said he's fine. Said he sat more because Bulls were up 20.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 23, 2015