CHICAGO — There are beatdowns and there is what the Bulls did to the 76ers on Tuesday. The old saying, never awaken a sleeping giant, well the Clippers woke him up and the 76ers had to deal with him. The Bulls led by 51 at one point as they destroy Philadelphia 121-76 with both Derrick Rose and Luol Deng posting 22 points in the 45 point blowout at the United Center. It was almost embarrassing to watch at times, as it almost appeared to be a pick up game between the Varsity squad and the Middle School traveling team. The game also doesn’t aid in finding an answer to the question of will Chicago be okay without big man Joakim Noah in the game to eat up rebounds?
The first game without Noah was a disaster for the Bulls and it ended their nice little seven game winning streak. This game couldn’t have been the more polar opposite of Saturday’s performance so the question remains just as valid as it did before the Clippers game. What isn’t in question is the way the Bulls were able to embarrass the 76ers who recently pulled Andre Iguodala off of the trade block in an attempt to make a playoff run. The Bulls put that to rest with ease.
It’s no secret that Derrick Rose is the leader of the team and needs to step up his game double as much now that he is without Noah. Rose did that tonight and fired up the entire team and got everyone contributing. Everybody except John Lucas and (surprise, surprise) Keith Bogans didn’t score a basket Tuesday. Even Brian Scalabrine scored points as did James Johnson and Omer Asik, two other guys who rarely get their numbers dialed up during games. Once again, it was like a pick up game; at one point Ronnie Brewer stole the ball and passed it behind his back, over his head to Luol Deng who slam dunked it in with one lone 76er watching in awe. Earlier in the game C.J. Watson the ball and passed it down to Deng who was all alone literally by half the court as he dunked it in.
Derrick Rose was pounding the paint and slamming in points as he had 22 all to himself on his way to a double-double in points and assists. Carlos Boozer had himself another double-double, this time in points and rebounds as he went for 16 and 11 respectively. Chicago shot a season high 64.5% while holding the 76ers to their season low of 35% and the Bulls rebounded the ball defensively 36 times Tuesday without Noah which is a large improvement over the 23 they got against the Clippers. The win was the Bulls 8th in their last 9 games.
Next up for Chicago the Bulls travel to Washington to try and win their 9th game out of the last 10 against the Gilbert Arena-less Wizards . It’s really a mystery as to which Bulls team will show up tomorrow; the sloppy, unorganized team that lost to L.A. or the team that was jumping up and down in sheer enjoyment at the ridiculous layups and dunks the Bulls were able to throw down on the the 76ers? Kurt Thomas started in place of Gibson who was starting in place of Noah and it appears third time is the charm. Gibson didn’t work (albeit he played 9 minutes before sustaining a concussion), Omer Asik didn’t work and the Bulls decided to roll the dice on Thomas and the gamble finally paid off. Thomas played 28 minutes, scored 12 points and was 2 rebounds away from a double-double himself. More importantly Thomas blocked 5 shots which he plans on increasing in the coming games. If Thomas can keep it together, not only will the Bulls not have to look outside the organization for help, but Thomas may secure himself a solid spot on this roster and give Gibson a run for his money, which in turn may motivate the center to better himself for elongated stay in Chicago. But for the time being it will be nice to have the Noah replacement issue figured out rather than continue to scramble for one until he returns. Both the Bulls and Noah would be better for it.