Every time Derrick Rose isn’t scratched off a game due to an injury, Chicago Bulls fans exhale in relief. Not the best of games from the former MVP, but enough to help out his team win on the road, where they remain perfect, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 95-86, led by an excellent big-man tandem of Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson.
A lot of the attention seemed to surround Rose facing off against Jabari Parker, another Chicago native. Playing in Milwaukee, often a very welcoming venue for Bulls fans who travel very well across the state border to Wisconsin, Rose scored 13 points after missing a couple of games, adding 7 assists as he spent 31 minutes on the floor, not showing any trouble with his ankle, or at least the kind that should have anyone worried.
The Bucks, now 2-3 after the loss, didn’t get too much from Parker, who sometimes seems overwhelmed with the big role he’s gotten, and begin the favorite to win rookie of the season. He’s averaging just 10 points per game, and he was only 4-of-12 for 8 points in the loss to the Bulls, a game that probably meant quite a lot to him. He found it difficult getting inside the paint, instead settling for outside jumpers, more often than not contested ones.
The Bulls’ defense in the second half won them the game, keeping the Bucks on only 33 points. Milwaukee shot only 37.1% from the field and once the Bull stopped turning the ball over so much (16), their advantage on almost every position on the floor, especially with the starting lineup who all finished in double figures in the +/- category, they were able to finish off a pesky opponent who rarely manages to actually beat them.
Gibson, starting instead of the still injured Joakim Noah scored 23 points to go with 10 rebounds. Pau Gasol added 22 points and 14 rebounds. That’s the better duo in terms of offense for the Bulls in the frontcourt. With Gasol also mirroring Noah in a lot of other offensive traits, we might see more and more of Noah being left out, despite his importance on the defensive end and his role as the team’s best passer last season.
The Bulls didn’t get much from their bench. Their entire lineup scored in double figures, including 14 by Jimmy Butler in a quiet night until the end and 12 from Mike Dunleavy. The bench added only 11 points, seven of them coming from Kirk Hinrich. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic continue to be up & down as all rookies tend to be. Mirotic scored just two points on 1-of-6 from the field. McDermott didn’t take a single shot in seven minutes on the floor.
The Bucks won’t be doing much this season, but they’re fun to watch when nerves don’t get to their younger players and they’re able to play in a free flowing environment. For now, the Bulls are the team to beat in the East without a doubt, and the more Derrick Rose gets comfortable and confident in his ability to avoid injuries, the more championship-like and versatile they will look, especially while the Cavaliers are trying to figure out what’s wrong.