Drink: Mirassou Pinot Noir
This marked the first game in some time that I was able to listen to the Bulls feed. It was a breath of fresh air to listen to Neil Funk’s sultry voice and Stacey King’s all around goofiness.
It took the Bulls more than two minutes to score a point in this contest and spells without points would be a common theme for the Bulls in this one. The game overall was an ugly affair for long stretches. Much of this had to do with the refs’ whistles blowing early and often. Calling a tight game is one thing, but many proved to be phantom calls when the replay was shown.
The main problem with the Bulls offense was blatant from the beginning. The Hornets were playing Rose very tight and no one else was stepping up. Carlos Boozer had the Bulls first four points and it looked like he would be the hot hand, but that did not last long at all. Rose kept getting doubled and not allowed a lane, earning (and arguably forcing) most of his shots all contest. The defense was solid for both teams through most of this game and combined with all of the whistles, this one remained close most of the time. As such, the first quarter ended with the Bulls up by two.
The flow, or lack there of, that was set in the first, continued in the second. Unit: DJ TrainWreck played very well to open the period, and as more starters returned, the worse they played. The two teams kept close to each other, until New Orleans started nailing threes at the end of the half, opening an 11 point lead that they would take into the locker room.
The Hornets held their lead, and even extended it a bit to begin the third. Then the Bulls cut into the lead through a rare Bogans sighting… and Rose. The biggest difference between the two halves was the Bulls ability to move the ball around. As the game wore on, Rose found more ways to pick apart the defense. It was at this point that the major story of this game started to get very obvious, and this was the free throw battle. The Hornets got to the line almost twice as much as the Bulls (39-22), but only knocked down five more free throws. If the Hornets shot as well as the Bulls from the charity stripe, the lead they had on either side of halftime would have been much more difficult to overcome. Instead, the third quarter ended with the Bulls down a mere two points.
Shortly into the fourth the Bulls tied it up on the play of the game. Rose stole the ball, drove it the length of the court and then pulled a sick pirouette around the last defender. It was disgusting. The Bulls just out-hustled the Hornets in the fourth. Seeing as how New Orleans took on the Orlando Magic the night before and the Bulls had two days of rest, this was hardly surprising. Through this hustle, a lead was opened, threatened a tad, and then closed out by your Chicago Bulls. Much of this closeout was due to the play of CJ Watson, who put in such quality minutes that Rose did not come back into the game until much later than he normally would.
The battle between the two point guards was a bit underwhelming. Each team’s defense focused on the two, thus neither put on much of a show. Rose only took 15 shots and many of those were forced – out of frustration. Chris Paul definitely has the better tricks and court vision, which is understandable, given his experience. On the other hand, Rose is a much better scoring threat. In the end, Rose got the better of the former MVP, but – as mentioned above – Paul was coming off a game the night before.
This game caps off the Bulls second and last Western Conference road trip. And with this win, the Bulls end it with a 3-2 record. Both of the losses in this trip were very winnable, but a winning record in a five-game road trip is an honorable feat. This game gives the Bulls a 36-16 record, which is good for a 12 game lead in the Central Conference and slots them third (2.5 back) in the East.