The Chicago Bulls began their pre-season run with a bang! With Rose out and a few notable changes in the roster, the Bulls had a lot of doubters coming into the new season.
The first game of the pre-season was underway, with the Bulls facing off against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies at the United Center on Oct. 18. With a crowd of 21, 003, some new and unfamiliar faces fans saw were Nazr Mohammed and Vladimir Radmanovic among others. But one familiar face stood out the most and that was Kirk Hinrich who started at the one with Rose out rehabilitating.
With the game on, Marc Gasol got the first possession, assisting to Tony Allen who makes the three-point jumper. Joakim Noah would get the first bucket for the Bulls, driving in the paint for the sweet layup.
With the Bulls leading by 1 with 8 minutes remaining, the Grizzlies call their first full timeout.
Jerryd Bayless, the former Toronto Raptor now grizzly makes his debut. scoring for the first time for Memphis with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter. After one quarter of play, the Grizzlies lead way with a score of 28-26.
Second action quarter underway and Mohammed makes one of two free throws after being fouled by Memphis’ Wayne Ellington. That would be Mohammed’s first bucket of the game. He was just warming up as Marco Belinelli dishes to Mohammed for the easy jumper.
Nate Robinson, another new face to the bulls franchise, played great as he made a layup and free throws with eight minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Bulls would go on to call their first full timeout with five minutes remaining in that half. At the end of two quarters, the Bulls still trailed by 3, with a score of 52-49, Memphis.
Third quarter action underway and Deng makes the bucket as Noah dishes the rock to him. Deng would have four points that quarter alone.
The tables would turned that quarter, as the Bulls would get their first lead off the game. They would eventually hang onto that lead throughout.
A notable play in this game was Robinson’s first three-pointer, as Jimmy Butler passes the ball to him. End of three quarters, and the Bulls lead 81-65.
Finally, fourth quarter action was on and the Grizzlies would make a good effort. A good run to secure a win however it wasn’t enough, as the Bulls won 92-88.
Overall, the Bulls had a great first run into the preseason. Chicago scored 32 fast break points, and 40 points in the paint that game. It’s becoming more apparent the Bulls can survive and win without Rose.
What kept the Grizzlies in the game were their field goals.. They scored 35-83 at 42%, whereas the Bulls shot just 30-84 at 35%. The Bulls however would win because of their superior rebounds, sly steals and powerful blocks, as they had 17 rebounds, 17 steals and seven block shots. Fast break points were key as they had 32, with Memphis short, only having 15.
The top performer for the Bulls had to be the new guy, Nazr Mohammed. Mohammed played great for his Bulls debut as he had 13 points, 12 rebounds and one block shot. For a backup center, that’s better than terrific. Spectacular even.
The top scorer, and assister of the night was Deng with 18 points and Hinrich with seven assists.
I also got to praise Hamilton, as he is starting to step it up. With a disappointing run last year, Hamilton was playing great this game, as he had four rebounds, four assists, and finished with 13 points.
Although this game was just a pre-season, it’s clear the Bulls are serious in the competition for a championship. People may think it’s impossible for Chicago to even try and compete without Rose, but this current Bulls roster is making a statement, and making it heard around the league, and that is they are here to play!
Chicago’s next game will be against Kyrie Irving and the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday Oct. 12 at the United Center.