Drink: Bombay Saphire and soda with lime, highball
Carmelo Anthony and his headband made it to the UC tonight, instantly reviving any “what if” scenarios that may have gone dormant in the last month or so. The Bulls battled the Nuggets to more/less a draw in the first quarter, before Denver pulled ahead by five to the period. Derrick Rose was out of form, opting to settle for a jumper that was not always open. Rose spent the summer working on his d and his jumper. At times in this early season, he looks to be trying to prove a point by forcing the jumper. The early going in this game saw Rose emphasizing his confidence in his shot, with little success. While that trend was disappointing, it was an all too pleasant surprise to see Thibs filter some bench players into the lineup during the first, instead of the wholesale change to begin the second…
Worry not, Unit: DJ TrainWreck started the second, with Noah as the one starter on the floor. Yet, it was a new flavor of UDJTW, as the starters were sprinkled back onto the floor earlier than usual. With Thibs starting the change in the first and doing it at a more gradual pace, the block of mediocrity (to be kind) was only out there for about four to five minutes. Anywho, the Nuggets stretched their first quarter lead to 11, then Denver tested out a much welcomed experiment: seeing if they could maintain a lead without hitting any shots. The results were not so positive for Denver; the Bulls reversed the Nuggets’ lead (while not shooting too well themselves) to walk into the locker room up by seven. I would like to credit the Bulls defense for Denver’s woeful shooting, but the Nuggets had many good looks that they promptly missed.
The third opened with Rose missing another unneeded jumper. Hm. This quarter was a much better display of offensive basketball by both sides. Unfortunately, Denver went on a run at the end of the quarter and closed it leading by two. There were some more reserve players coming onto the court at the end of the quarter…
Then Thibs could not deny his fetish. Enter: UDJTW. Deng was the chosen starter to hang with the reserves. Yet, with the poor play of Rose, CJ Watson was not exactly the letdown one would expect. The third and fourth quarters reflected their first and second counterparts. Thus, the fourth featured many missed shots on both sides of the ball. Yet, unlike the second, the Bulls found the right shots and pulled away in the end. Sure, the Nuggets had a chance to tie it late, but this was largely due the Bulls forgetting how to run an uneven break.
This was a tremendous win for your Chicago Bulls. The center of the Bulls offense, Derrick Rose, was out of his game and they managed to win against a quality opponent. In summation, this means the Bulls first and second offensive options, Rose and Carlos Boozer, did not produce (though, one much less than the other) and the Bulls still beat one of the West’s elite teams.
You would think that with the Bulls’ premier free agent on the sidelines that their front court would suffer. Ultimately, the night was lead by center Joakim Noah (13 points, 19 rebounds, 4 blocks) and power forward Taj Gibson (16 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 points). This was an awesome display of two players who entered the league (as rookies) with little offensive game, and were able to work their asses off and be able to produce on that end. It just makes Mr. Bulls Fan’s mouth’s water even more with the upcoming entrance of The Beard into the lineup. If Noah And Gibson can put up these numbers without him, imagine them being the periphery to Boozer’s dominating down-low game.
With every yin there lies a yang. A lovely front court performance was damped by a reckless and immature display by Derrick Rose.
With the Chicago coming up short in the summer free agency bonanza, there came reports that Rose was not overly willing to roll out the ole red carpet to LeBron. The thinking behind it all was that Rose felt like he was The Man for the Bulls and did not want to get one-upped by new signing. Then there was word that Rose was working on an outside shot during the summer. Quick math lesson: outside shot for Rose = completely unstoppable superstar. Rose has displayed his “newfound outside shot” a few times this season, with not the most convincing results. Tonight’s game saw him forcing his shot and missing it often.
When you take into consideration Rose’s preseason MVP-talk, the result of these events may be one player shooting for something he is not… yet. At this point, it is clear that Rose’s jumper is not quite to the point that he (or we) wants it to be. It is paramount that he understands how he can best help his team win. There was a brilliant play tonight in the fourth, when Rose drove into the center, by the free throw line, and it looked that he was going to shoot for sure. Instead, he found Brewer cutting down the baseline, and the lanky guard had a simple, uncontested dunk. It is plays like these where Rose’s game can blow up. He is freakishly insane on being able to drive to the hoop. This ability makes everyone and their mom collapse on him. And this is the perfect opportunity to kick it to Bogans, Deng, or Korver for a three. Or it is ideal to dish it to a cutting Gibson, Noah, Asik, or Deng for an easy dunk.
A game like tonight is one I hope to never see from Rose, until he develops a legit jumper. I am so very hopeful that Rose can tweak his game and the Bulls be able to hold their own until Boozer returns. And then when Boozer returns… Pow! Bang! Zooom!