CHICAGO — The Bulls saw the triumphant return of the league’s MVP to their lineup on Monday night as the Bulls to the Nets down 110-95. But it wasn’t Derrick Rose who stole the show, it was Richard Hamilton‘s 22 points that will be the shining achievement of the night.
Rip Hamilton scored his 15,000th point of his career on his way to a 22 point night that saw him add 10 assists to make it double-double just for the heck of it. The only question is why Rip played 42 minutes against the lowly Nets. The simple answer is Rip has been out with a groin injury and he needs to get his groove back. It’s safe to say that although it may have been a gamble, his 42 minutes were well spent on the court.
Rose also finished the night with 22 points as all of Chicago’s starters hit double digits. Rose played 36 minutes and if there was doubt as to why Hamilton was kept in so long coming off an injury, the same question hold equal validity when posed about Rose playing with and injury.
Rose claimed his toe was alright enough for him to play tonight and that was backed up by a flawless shoot around earlier in the day.
Joakim Noah got back to his usual way s of gobbling up the basketball. He finished again with more points then rebounds. Usually this would be a bad thing given Noah’s shooting history, but he finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds Monday turning in a performance that wasn’t as ugly as the ones he’s been turning in.
Another aspect of the Bulls that was on fire on Monday was the Bench Mob. They turned in 25 of the Bulls final 110 but that total was spread between four guys, most notably Brian Scalabrine, the White Mamba.
Although Scalabrine didn’t lead the Mob in points, it just amazing and down right awesome that he saw as many minutes as he did. He finished the night with 5 points but the stat to highlight on Scalabrine is his 23 minutes. This is a guy who usually only comes in when it’s time for the Victory Formation, but he definitely earned himself some major props (and possibly more minutes) given how well he held up for the time he played tonight given how lithe he has played the last few years.
It was a night for big guys off the bench as the leading producer off the Mob was Omer Asik, who went 4-5 from the field scoring 10 points.
The Bulls held up well against the Nets with guys like Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and John Lucas III all sitting on the bench. Derrick Rose was a game time decision and decided to play after missing the last three games for the Bulls.
Chicago welcomes in the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, the only team with a winning record they’ll face during this four game home stand. The Pacers are right on the Bulls heels in the Central and if they win tomorrow night against the Magic, they can move closer to overtaking the Bulls for first place in the division and the Eastern Conference with a win. A victory for the Pacers against the Bulls would narrow the gap between the two to just 1.5 games.
More importantly the Pacers would puncture what seems to be an impenetrable armor the Bulls wear at home. Chicago improved to 8-0 at home with their win over the Nets and are looking to keep that streak going against Indiana. The Bulls would ideally like to start their rough nine game road trip with a 10-0 home record and a 18-3 overall record.
Chicago gets a rest day Tuesday before welcoming in the Pacers at 7pm on Wednesday.