The Chicago Bulls’ offense has looked anemic over their first four games, ranking fourth to last in field goal percentage against their absolute gauntlet of an early season schedule. The Utah Jazz, who arrived at the United Center winless, proved to be the perfect elixir for Tom Thibodeau’s team Friday night. Chicago raced past the hapless Jazz 97-73, holding the visitors to just 29.4% shooting from the field. Luol Deng led the way all night, dominating on both ends of the court, to earn the game ball.
Deng finished with a line of 19 points, 11 boards and 9 assists, just missing a triple double (Nazr Mohammed made several entertaining attempts to get Deng his tenth assist late in the fourth, including a elbow jumper that missed the rim by three feet). The Bulls’ do-everything forward finished 7-9 from the field and did not attempt a three pointer, which was probably a wise decision after going 1-12 from behind the arc in the first three games. Deng also combined with Jimmy Butler to hold Jazz wings Gordon Heyward and Richard Jefferson to an 8-27 night from the field, with Luol throwing in five steals.
The Bulls all-star forward needed a confidence builder game heading into Monday’s game against the Cavaliers, who have high hopes for the season but are off to their own rough start at 2-4. Deng should have one of the more favorable matchups against the talented Cavs. Cleveland plays a combination of the athletic Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee at the small forward position. Clark’s scoring is limited to dunks and athletic finishes, while Gee is contented to chuck shots up from three point land. The Bulls’ success tends to coincide with Deng’s, so let’s hope tonight’s game is an indicator of good things to come.