Joakim Noah

While Chicago Bulls fans are still waiting to see a more efficient version of Derrick Rose, getting their first road win of the season, 96-80 over the Toronto Raptors, who aren’t going anywhere while DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay continue to contend each night on who has the worse shooting day, isn’t such a bad way to continue without their struggling point guard.

Before they get to play the Indiana Pacers for the second time this season, which also happens to be their first back-to=back of 2013-2014, the Bulls got a chance to dominate against a Raptors team that’s athletic and fast but also filled with selfish players and plays in a frustrating way for those who expect a bit more than just taking every host that’s available from NBA players.

While credit has to go to Joakim Noah for an excellent game (18 points, 9 rebounds on 7-of-10 from the field) and in general to the Bulls’ defense, it’s not so hard to do that against the Raptors, who shot 35.4% from the field, even with DeRozan and Gay combining to hit 20-of-37 attempts. DeRozan scored 37 points, but also had just one rebound and one assist. It’s the first time since January 2005 that a player scored that much with only one rebound and assist or less.

Kyle Lowry also decided he wants to be like Gay and DeRozan, going 0-for-7 from beyond the arc, finishing with 20% from the field as the Raptors played unintelligent basketball against a defense that forces teams to think in order to beat it when it’s at its best.

Tom Thibodeau – I thought Kirk did a great job of running the team, had a very balanced scoring attack. With Derrick out, we know we have to play a certain way, and we need everybody.

Carlos Boozer

Are the Bulls better with Hinrich? Rose took a rest with a hurting hamstring, but probably will play against the Indiana Pacers. Right now though, Hinrich (12 points, 4 assists) is playing smarter basketball than Rose is, who might be back physically with the same spring in his step, but his decision making and understanding of the new defensive schemes teams are using still hasn’t sunk in, which is why Rose is missing so many shots, and making so many mistakes.

But there’s plenty of good in Chicago even if Rose isn’t fulfilling the expectations people have from him. The Bulls have a lineup that can finish all in double figures each night, led by Luol Deng with 19 points, Carlos Boozer with 14 points, and Jimmy Butler adding 14 points, proving that their Luol Deng 2.0 might deserve to take more shots than only 8.6 per game.

The key going forward, with a good Rose or not, is defense. In all of their four wins this season they’ve held opponents to 81 points or less. Discipline and rebounding seems to be what keeps this unit together, so fourth quarters like the one they had against the Pacers when the two teams previously met is something that can’t repeat itself if the Bulls want to start showing they are more than just a middling playoff team not to be taken too seriously.

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