Reasons to worry? Derrick Rose is still not there offensively, not to mention injuring his hamstring which means more progress problems for him and the Chicago Bulls. Happy thoughts? He put on a fantastic defensive performance against Kyrie Irving, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-81.
This is what Bulls basketball is about: Excellent defense, that means always staying in front of your man. Rose kept Irving at only 5-0f-19 from the field, scoring only 16 points. Even Mike Dunleavy, scoring 15 points off the bench with some big three pointers late in the game, managed to stay ahead of quicker guards the Cavs put for him to defend.
Only if Rose’s offense was a bit more smooth. He shot 8-of-21 from the field to finish with 16 points, not managing to get to the line, adding 7 assists. He’s averaging 14.7 points per game so far, shooting only 33.3% from the field and turning the ball over 4.2 times. When you look at it like that, his game against the Cavs was probably his best performance this season excluding his game winning shot against the New York Knicks.
It wasn’t smooth sailing from the start from the Bulls, who saw a 13-point lead decimated into only one early in the fourth, but Dunleavy scored 7 points in a 9-1 run, putting the Bulls 11 points ahead with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game, and a minute later a steal and an assist from him to Luol Deng gave the Bulls a 14-point lead with 1:07 to go, making sure the Cavs weren’t coming back.
We had some chances to break it open, early on, each quarter. They just hung in there. Fortunately in the fourth, we were able to pull away.
It’s not only about fortune – ability had something to do with it to, but the Bulls don’t seem to be where they expected to – individually and as a team, at this point. At 3-3, all wins coming at home, their offensive struggles that begin with Derrick Rose and project on the entire team are keeping them from beginning the road that puts them in the same sentence as the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat.
Rose said after the game that it’s only a sprain, and there’s nothing to be worried about. That wasn’t the feeling going around the United Center with three minutes left in the game, as Rose went to the bench and get some treatment from the trainer.
The only thing the Cavs could have been happy with was Andrew Bynum giving his best game of the season, playing 21 minutes and scoring 11 points. He pulled off some nice moves in the post that kept Joakim Noah’s head spinning long after Bynum had already made his move to the basket. He’s still not close to being dominant, especially not beneath the basket defensively, but the Cavs will look a lot better once he feels improved.
This was the first time Rose and Irving played against each other after injuries prevented the two of them to meet on the court. Even without a significant game offensively, Rose showed that a rusty him is a lot better than Irving at this stage.