The Chicago Bulls are off to a 2-0 start, following up their opening night win by beating the Brooklyn Nets 115-100 with Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic in the driver’s seat and Derrick Rose dealing with coming back from his injury.
What does it mean to ‘deal with it’? Hoiberg surprised many by giving Rose the start against the Cavaliers and then again facing the Nets because of how recently he suffered from an orbital bone fracture. While Rose has been doing OK, nothing more, he did play 29 minutes in the win over the Nets, scoring 15 points and not trying to do too much, knowing it’s not all up to him anymore, something he sometimes has a hard time adjusting to.
Rose talked about seeing double some of the time during his postgame interview. He said he’s been practicing with one eye closed, and plays like that as well. It’s been working alright for him, but obviously, it’s not ideal. He’s averaging 16.5 points through the first two games of the season, but shooting just 39.4% from the field, with his 5-of-11 against the Nets an actual improvement.
Besides Rose problems, the Bulls seem to be in good shape. Butler had one of the most efficient games one can have, with 24 points on 9-of-11 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, turning the ball over just once. The Bulls started 30-19 with a lineup that also included Tony Snell (10) points and the Spanish duo of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic is thriving in the lineup, scoring 18 points to follow up his 19-point effort in the win over the Cavaliers. Pau Gasol ended with 16, as the entire lineup scored in double figures.
That didn’t leave much for the bench to do. Joakim Noah played 18 minutes in which he managed to pick up five fouls but not score a single point. He’s still dealing with a knee injury limiting his playing time. Aaron Brooks was the only bench player with a positive +/- number and the only one in double figures, scoring 12 points. He was awful in the playoffs for the Bulls, but had some very good minutes off the bench during the regular season, doing it this time with a slightly different second unit.
Hoiberg was especially pleased with how his team didn’t let an emotional win like the one against the Cavs get to them. They got on the plane, flew down to Brooklyn and deal with an inferior Nets teams in a very professional way. Needless to say, Hoiberg might have been around too many college kids in the last few years, and forgot how different things are for more experiences, older players.
And the Nets? Besides Brook Lopez (26 points) and Andrea Bargnani (17 points), it looked bad. With Jarrett Jack, the backcourt of Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington was atrocious, and Joe Johnson shooting 4-of-15 from the field made it a hopeless kind of night from the very early goings. Lionel Hollins somehow dragged this team to the playoffs last season. It’s hard to believe he’ll be able to do it this time, with very little to count on besides Lopez.