Bulls 90, Hornets 67 — FINAL
NEW ORLEANS — Wearing the alternate black uniforms, the Chicago Bulls put in another skull crushing performance with their superstar MVP again scoring less then 10 points. Derrick Rose finished with just 6 points but the Bulls offense was largely unaffected by his absence as they hung 90 on the lowly Hornets.
The two most oft-criticized players on the Bulls were the two guys who led the team Wednesday as Carlos Boozer scored 18 and Joakim Noah finished with 10 rebounds. Boozer responded to the Bulls recent string of success and his rebound in quality of play.
“We’re staying humble, staying hungry and we just did a good job of setting the tone defensively,” Boozer said. “We did a good job contesting shots, did a good job making them take tough shots, and at the same time I thought we did a good job executing our offense to make the lead grow.”
But the biggest stat on the night was the Bulls ferocious defensive effort put forth, holding the Hornets under 70 points and under 40 percent shooting. Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was pleased with the performance but wasn’t fooled by the fact it was against a terrible offensive team.
“The challenge is to be ready to play, and we did that,” Thibodeau said. “We have to strive to make improvement and to get better each day, build solid habits and just keep our eye on what’s in front of us.”
Derrick Rose was a question mark heading into the game after exiting Monday’s win in New Jersey early. Rose played 22 minutes but scored just six points in the blowout.
“The back was kind of tight,” Rose said. “Thibs did a great job of managing my minutes when he saw we had the game put away.”
However, there is a massive positive to be had from Rose’s lack of production. Rose has scored 10 points in the Bulls last two games and Chicago has still managed to combine for 198 points in that span. Albeit against absolutely putrid defense’s, the Bulls are showing something they struggled to do last season on the road — function sans Rose’s production.
Luol Deng also played injured scoring 9 points in 34 minutes. Unlike the Nets game, Deng tried to get back into the rebounding game, finishing with 7 against the Hornets. This is obviously Deng trying to gauge how healthy his wrist really is and the limits he can take it to.
Head Coach Tom Thibodeau addressed the concerns brought up by the media over Rose and Deng playing injured in seemingly meaningless games.
“If a guy is injured, he shouldn’t play. But if he can play, he should play,” Thibodeau said. “Somehow there’s this notion of guys sitting out games. Pretty soon we’ll be at the point where a guy sits out the whole season and just plays in the playoffs — if he can get there. I don’t get that.”
Chicago gets the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday before ending their nine game road trip in Boston on Sunday. After starting out the East Coast road trip 1-2, Chicago has won four straight games making their record 22-6 which is still good for the best in all of basketball. The Bulls own a two game lead over the Heat in the East and a 6 game lead over the Celtics who are no major threat at the moment. As the Bulls end this road trip, one thing that no one saw coming will be a certain truth: Chicago needs to watch their heels as the Sixers and Pacers are almost as close to them as the Heat are.