Beating the Detroit Pistons isn’t exactly a rare achievement this season and for quite some time. Still, the Chicago Bulls did do a couple of things that are quite a rarity for them this season. They scored over 100 points, and Joakim Noah put up numbers that have only been seen three times over the last 25 years.
Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls are a jump-shooting team, like they were during the Scott Skiles day. Without anyone who can create his own shot, it falls down to passing and going for a mid-range 2 at the right time. Their defense wan’t what it usually is in Detroit, but the Bulls hit 52.4% of the field goal attempts, and that was enough to carry them to a 108-104 win. It was only the fourth time this season in which they went past the 100 points mark, averaging less than 95 points per game on a regular day.
The linchpin of the win was the frontcourt duo of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Boozer gets criticized repeatedly for his defense, his effort on some night and his salary. It sometimes feels like if he’s properly motivated, there’s no problem in staying one of the more productive big men in the league. He finished with 24 points and 6 rebounds, making a season high 12 field goals (from 19 attempts).
The real specialty was Joakim Noah, who led the team with 30 points, adding to his 23 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. It was Noah’s first 20-20 game of Noah’s career, not to mention a 30-20. He reached career highs in both rebounds and points.
But what was extremely special about it was the rarity of this stat line, in a game that the Pistons failed to show up for physically and probably mentally during the third quarter.. Noah is only the third player in the last 25 years with a 30-23-6 state line; the others are Kevin Garnett (2003), Dirk Nowitzki (2002) and Charles Barkley (1988). He’s the first Bulls player with a 20-20 game since Luol Deng had one in 2009 and the third Chicago Bulls player with at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 5 assists in a game. The two others are Charles Oakley (1986) and Mickey Johnson (1978).
Noah simply stood tall above everyone, grabbing 10 offensive rebounds. It were those rebounds that pretty much killed the Pistons as they were trying to make a comeback during the fourth quarter, instead failing to contain the former Florida center, who had no problem in the paint. The Bulls finished with 58 points in the paint compared with the Pistons’ 38.
Chicago don’t usually have such a hard time with the Pistons. In their winning streak against their division rivals, they’ve often kept them in the 80’s and 70’s, but the first half defensive effort was considered an abomination by their head coach.
The second quarter was an abomination. We gave them pick-and-rolls, we gave them cuts, we were ball watching, lacked awareness.
The Bulls must have their defense on full throttle and full awareness if they’re to be in a good situation when Derrick Rose comes back, hopefully not too far from where he left off. A 10-8 record is good, but far less than the standards the Bulls have gotten used to over the last couple of seasons, with Rose or without him. If Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer play the fearsome frontcourt role a bit more often, that might set up a better and pleasant road as the season continues.