- vs. Boston W 127-121 – You’re not seeing things, the Bulls actually scored 127 against the Celtics. Of course, they were missing KG and his ferocious defense, but it was still a big win. John Salmons went off for 38 points and is fast becoming the Bulls primary scorer. Miller also came up big against an overwhelmed Celtics frontcourt, putting up 21 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. As great as those numbers are, the numbers that tell the real story in this game is that the Bulls had 25 assists and just 10 turnovers. When they take care of the ball like that, they are extremely difficult to beat.
- @ OKC W 103-96 – What? A road win? It had been one whole month to the day since the Bulls won their last road game, and this was a pleasant treat. While the Bulls played a good all-around game, the story of this night was Derrick Rose’s second half perfection. He went 10-10 in the second half and finished with 25 points. Tyrus put up a double-double and Salmons chipped in 20 points. An interesting sidenote in this game, Thabo, now playing for OKC, had a crazy line on the night: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks.
- vs. LAL L 109-117 – This game was the definition of how to blow a win. the Bulls controlled the game through the first half, taking a 14 point lead into the break. The Lakers came back to within 1 going into the 4th quarter and then Bryant went to the bench. Guess what happened then? A Bulls run with Kobe on the bench? Nope. The Lakers went on a 21-6 run with their second unit. Salmons dropped 30 points and Rose added 25 but the Bulls came up short down the stretch. They turned over the ball 23 times with LA getting 16 steals. Ouch.
Player of The Week – John Salmons/Derrick Rose
Both of these players deserve the honor this week. Salmons was key in the Boston win and did everything he could to keep the Bulls in the game against the Lake show. He averaged 29 points a game this week while shooting 64%. His defense was exceptional as well, helping to cover Durant, Allen, Pierce and even Kobe during stretches. Derrick Rose did not have the eye-popping numbers that Salmons did this week, but the way he took over games late this week, culminating with his 10/10 Laettner-esque second half against OKC, propels him to share POW honors. He averaged about 20, 5, and 5 on the week, which is pretty good all on its own.
What It Means
And…..we’re back. In the 8th seed that is. With Milwaukee losing 2 straight and the rest of the field continuing to fade (not that they haven’t been “fading” all year), the Bulls are back in control of their own playoff destiny. It would have been nice to steal one from LA, but 2-1 on what looked to be a tough week is something most Bulls fans can live with. Only 12 games left to play at 32-38, and the Bulls will probably need to win about 40 games to assure a spot in the playoffs.
While last week looked to be very tough, this coming week has 4 very winnable games. The Bulls open at Washington and should be able to win that one (although they were embarassed in DC recently). Then they come home for a 3-game homestand against Detroit, Miami, and Indiana. All three of those teams are within 5 games of the Bulls, and it would be nice to gain ground in the East. Detroit has been playing like garbage and Indiana is garbage. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they seem to have trouble beating the teams they should, and yet they get up for games against far superior teams. Miami will give the Bulls trouble, since it appears the Wade-Stopper has lost his ability to stop Wade (I’m talking about Kirk of course). If the Bulls can go 2-2 they will be okay, but they should go 3-1 on the week.
Bulls Weekly Grade: A-
Two big wins against Boston and OKC and a move back into the driver’s seat in the Eastern Playoff race earns the Bullies a good grade this week. The loss to LA was unfortunate and exposed the Bulls inability to close out games, but it was a minor blemish on what was otherwise a good week for Chicago.