Drink: Château Bel Air l’Espérance Bordeaux
Blake Griffin can dunk. Keith Bogans can lay on his back. Blake Griffin can dunk. Thus began the Bulls first game without their sparkplug, Joakim Noah. The opening quarter saw each teams’ power forwards scoring with little trouble. The Bulls only answer for Griffin was to foul him. Taj Gibson did just that and grabbed some bench with two fouls. But Gibson was just a face in a carousel of players that would play Griffin much the same way.
There was a very noticeable lack of Noah on the floor. “The big problem was a lack of intensity,” Tom Thibodeau said after the game. Yeah, that will happen when Noah’s out and Blake Griffin opens the game grabbing a Baron Davis pass out of the air and throwing it down. It set the tone for the game, and it was not the last time it would happen.
It is understandable that when you take a player like Noah out of the lineup, a team loses some of its energy and rhythm. It was also no surprise that the team’s leader tried to will it to a win. Yes, Derrick Rose missed a game-tying free throw with .8 seconds left in the game and the Bulls lost, snapping their winning streak. The highlights will tell you that. Watching the game will tell you that the only reason that the Bulls were in this game late was because of the man. Rose usually gets hacked and knocked around, this game featured even more of that. The Clippers – and this seems to be a growing trend by the opponents – made sure to hit Rose hard when he drove to the basket. Slapped across the face (no call) on one drive and dropping to the floor in a heap on another, one begins to wonder how much of this Rose can take. Two games ago Rose left the game with a sprained wrist, messed up ankle and bruised hip. And after taking the last game a bit cautiously, he was right back at driving and getting banged around.
With Noah out, the refs need to do a better job protecting Rose. Without Rose getting calls, opposing teams have little reason to not rough him up when he gets into the lane. And I am not too sure how much more abuse Chicago’s brightest star can take.
As for what to do with that pesky starting center position? Well, Gibson left the game with a concussion and is questionable for Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia. Meanwhile, in Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas, the Bulls have two players that are great a racking up fouls. So, I guess the answer to the question is: yeah, sure.