No, no Derrick Rose in sight, not yet. But who says the Chicago Bulls can’t be good without him? The Golden State Warriors were supposed to bring the impressive three point shooting to this game, but Kirk Hinrich of all people (not for the first time this month) was the one who delivered the goods.
Too much Bulls defense for the Warriors to play their usual fast game of basketball, that allows them to shoot wide open threes over and over again. Both David Lee and Carl Landry had a very hard time getting through the wall of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler, which made it much harder for Stephen Curry and the others to get open shots.
The Bulls didn’t exactly make it rain; it was only Kirk Hinrich, who for the second time this month had a 20+ game, scoring a season high 25 points, making 6-7 from beyond the arc. Hinrich wasn’t the only point guard who felt very comfortable in this game; Nate Robinson, an ex- Warrior, scored 22 points off the bench.
The big key was defense, as usual – keeping the Warriors at 34.6% from the field, denying anyone except for Stephen Curry (21 points) to really do any damage. The best way to see the Bulls made life very uncomfortable for the Warriors was looking at the assists line, Golden State scoring only 12 time off assists.
The Bulls frontcourt trio had a big game on the board and on defense, but also the stat line wasn’t too bad: Noah, Boozer and Butler combined for 45 points and 41 rebounds, by themselves out-rebounding the entire Warriors team, who were simply kept out of the paint, scoring only 22 points from there.
Tom Thibodeau was ecstatic about his three big men: Jo was terrific — offense, defense, rebounding, energy. Carlos, his rebounding and just his presence inside, his cutting and screening led to fouls, which got us to the free throw line, got us established inside, opened some things up for us. I love his toughness. He competes on every play. He’s not afraid. Guys like that can always continue to get better.
While the Chicago Bulls 26-16 record, putting them at third in the East, three games behind the Miami Heat, is impressive, it’s hard to see this team making it out of the semifinals, unless Derrick Rose comes back and plays something close to the D-Rose of old.
Because when a team is only based on hustle and energy, while their normal shooting is usually among the worst in the NBA (22nd in field goal percentage), it means that there’s no go-to-guy to rely on. Defense is great, maybe the most important thing, but hustle, intensity and effort take you only so far. At the end of the day, you need someone you can count on to take you beyond some sort of threshold, and while it’s great to see the Bulls do so well with team basketball and without one outright star, deep down you know it’s not going to be enough in a series when the energy levels move up and down.