Sometimes, watching these games a second time can get a little rough. Re-watching last night's 108-105 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, however, was an absolute privilege. For my money, Russell Westbrook is the most entertaining player to watch on any given night in the NBA. And then to top it all off, E'Twaun Moore -- of all people -- hits the game-winning three-pointer. What a game. What a night of basketball. And here are seven things I'd like to share with you:
Note: I'm including a poll with potential new names for these re-watch columns. Thanks for all the suggestions. Every part of me wanted to include ‘TERZ DOWN FOR WHAT' as an option, but as a consolation, I can promise you that I will make use of that phrase in my personal life for years to come.
1) The E'Twaun Moore Game
When an obscure player like E'Twaun Moore has a career game on national television, everyone takes notice. It doesn't require multiple viewings for me to tell you Moore hit an amazing shot at the end, or that he finished the game making his last nine shots en route to a career-high 19 points. In fact, the only shot Moore missed on the night (he finished 9-10) was his first attempt, which was a wide open three-pointer. Maybe the easiest look he had all night.
But my entire purpose with these articles is to show you the things Moore did that perhaps were drowned out by the attention grabbing moments. For example, his defense on Westbrook on a critical late-game possession, here:
Although Westbrook made this shot -- because he's simply not fair -- you cannot contest any better than Moore does here. Keep in mind, Moore was the one defending Westbrook during the most important defensive possessions of the game. The screen-grab above is one only one example, but trust me, there were plenty.
Nevertheless, perhaps the biggest thing is that last night marked the second consecutive game where Tom Thibodeau opted to play Moore over Kirk Hinrich late in the game on defense. At this point, it is abundantly clear that Thibodeau trusts Moore on that end -- so honestly, why should Hinrich play over him? Kirk can't guard top-flight perimeter players anymore. Moore is shooting miles better than Kirk from both the floor and from three-point land. What else is there to say? Kirk's a 10-15 minute a night guy, and that might be putting it nicely.
2) Defending Russ
Before we get ahead of ourselves, Westbrook's 43 points last night is tied for the most ever scored against Thibodeau's Bulls. Through a combination of fury and relentlessness, Westbrook's dominance persisted. But, Chicago made Russ take 18 shots from 15-feet and out last night, to which he only made six. The Bulls did a terrific job closing off the paint in half court sets, like on this example, here:
Basically, the Bulls were content with leaving Serge Ibaka to pop in pick-and-roll whenever he so pleased, and they were going to live with him making shots. Ibaka did make the Bulls pay time-and-time again, but also they often tried to shade him, like this:
Above, Mike Dunleavy stunts towards Ibaka upon receiving the pass from Westbrook, which is supposed to entice Ibaka into thinking about passing to the open man Dunleavy is "leaving" in the corner before shooting. The Bulls did this as often as they could, and although in the above example Ibaka makes the shot, in the example below he misses and a better option is also available:
As you see, Dion Waiters is standing completely unattended to in the corner. Ibaka didn't find the open man enough last night, which might better explain how he and Westbrook accounted for 65 percent of the team's offensive output. Many will want to focus on Westbrook taking 32 shots and perhaps not passing enough, but Ibaka is as much to blame to a certain extent because Chicago continually dared him to make the extra pass, too. All in all, I thought Thibodeau's defensive game plan was effective and sometimes, great players just make great plays:
Unfair, Russ. Unfair.
3) /Shocked Emoji Face
Aaron Brooks pulled off this absolutely filthy move and it deserves some shine although he obviously didn't make the layup:
4) Mr. Fourth Quarter
Move over Jay Cutler, there's a new Mr. Fourth Quarter in town. Although he didn't shoot the ball very well overall last night, Nikola Mirotic scored 12 fourth quarter points, pushing his total to 36 over his last three games. Now that Mirotic has been freed and the two other playmakers on the team are hurt, he's clearly become the Bulls' best offensive weapon. Not only is it his crunch time scoring, though, but also his ability to run the floor, to get to the foul line and his excellent court vision. Even on defense Mirotic is making strides, not to mention his ever-improving work on the glass. This kid is the real deal, folks.
5) Pau Pau Pau
I just would like to point out that Pau Gasol overpowered Enes Kanter basically the entire game. I'm talking shoulder-into-chest, get-out-of-my-way type stuff. I haven't heard many people around Chicago use the s-word all that often, and it should stay that way. Gasol's been nothing short of terrific on offense all season for the Bulls, and he's shown he can do it in a variety of ways.
6) That's Not How You Play Defense, Doug
Here's Doug McDermott not only fouling Westbrook while staying completely glued to the floor, but he also fails to even get a hand up. Didn't get crossed, though.
7) This Guy
This guy. Forever.
Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? Drop a comment below and we'll hash it out.