Sometimes momentum is stronger than everything. The Chicago Bulls have started to play well recently, so giving up on Luol Deng and missing Carlos Boozer due to injury doesn’t stop them from beating the Phoenix Suns 92-87, getting some great performances from Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah.
The Suns had a significant omission of their own, with Eric Bledsoe out for a third straight game. Goran Dragic did score 21 points and Gerald Green added 15 as the guy filling in for Bledsoe, but the Suns aren’t the same team without their dual point guard look to lead the way.
Tom Thibodeau is viewed as the person most hurt from the Bulls’ decision to trade Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls got Andrew Bynum and three draft picks in return. Bynum was released, and you can’t coach draft picks, but Thibodeau knows there’s not much he can do but keep preaching his usual blend of effort and defense to the players he has left. It’s not for him to think of playoffs, tankings and financial implications. He’s on the sidelines to win basketball games, or at least try to.
We can accept our circumstances as they are, or we can do all we can to change them and turn them into something positive. That’s one of the things I’ve admired about our team — they’ve accepted every challenge.
Taj Gibson scored 19 points to lead the Bulls, adding 10 rebounds as well. After Deng got traded, the talk is that Carlos Boozer will be amnestied in the summer. Gibson will the player who enjoys that kind of change more than anyone, and for a rare instance during his Bulls career, he hardly got any time off the floor, playing 42 minutes in the win over the Suns. Joakim Noah was once again excellent, adding 14 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists.
If the Bulls had a normal roster, with an actual shooting guard, Jimmy Butler would be the player that enjoys Deng being traded more than anyone. However, he didn’t exactly explode, finishing with 13 points on an awful 4-of-18 shooting night. He did add 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals. Defensively, Butler is probably just as good as Deng only without the wear & tear. However, on offense he still has a long way to go before taking over the small forward position without having any doubters.
We lost a really great teammate, a really great player last night/this morning. I’m glad we got the win. He told me he’s going to miss me, and Lu’s never told me anything nice since I’ve been here.
The Bulls are once again very shorthanded, but no one is making excuses. We’ll learn a lot more about what they’re planning to achieve this season – playoffs or getting a draft pick, hopefully a very high one, with some dreaming about Jabari Parker playing for his hometown franchise. Without injuries, in the East, this roster is enough to make the playoffs. However, it’s hard to remember when was the last time the Bulls were able to list their full roster (excluding Derrick Rose) for an NBA game.