After an emotional day for the entire Chicago Bulls organization saying goodbye to a cornerstone of the franchise for many years, Luol Deng, the Bulls defeat the Phoenix Suns 92-87. This was a game that many (myself included) thought was going to be an easy win for the Suns coming in on a hot streak. Last night the Bulls showed why they are who they are and why in my opinion Tom Thibodeau is the best coach in NBA basketball. With nine players dressed with eight playing, the Bulls pretty much shut down the Suns and dominated them in a TOTAL team effort. Besides Deng being traded, Carlos Boozer sat out for the second straight game with a bum knee. This just in to Pippen Aint Easy…The Bulls didn’t need him. Now it seems that the Bulls are on a hot streak winning three straight and six of their last eight games.
Taj Gibson led the Bulls charge with 19 points and 10 rebounds. A few days ago my Pippen Aint Easy colleague Candice Connell wrote a piece about Taj Gibson being confident about making the playoffs and being battle tested. (If you have not read it, click on it. It’s a good read.) Boy he might be on to something and with Candice co-signing, she might also see something that we all need pay attention to. Taj Gibson dominated last night and set the tone on offense where the Bulls have more questions than your Illinois state exam. But he had a ton of help. Joakim Noah had a double double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Here is what is amazing me, he is setting the table with six assists. Tom Thibodeau has done a masterful job of using one of the best passing big men in the league to enhance the offense and cover weaknesses at the point. Speaking of the point guard position, the duo of DJ Augustin and Kirk Hinrich combined to score 22 points and 12 assists. They teamed up in a pivotal point of the game with Augustin setting up Hinrich for a three pointer late to put the game away when the Suns tried to make a run late. Tony Snell, who will have plenty of time to showcase his abilities now that Luol Deng is gone, scored 12 points plus hitting back to back three pointers in the 4th quarter. Jimmy Butler finished with 13 points.
The one thing that will stand the test of time with a Tom Thibodeau squad is this team will defend every night. They held the Phoenix Suns to 87 points, 1 off their season low. They held the Suns to a season low 12 assists. The Suns are tops in the NBA in fast break points. Last night, they finished with 10 points. The Bulls took the Suns right out of their game by stopping their ability to get easy baskets. Then exposed their inability to score in the half court. Goran Dragic led Phoenix with 21 points but he had only 2 assists. Gerald Green had 15 but on 6-16 shooting with an abysmal 3-10 from the land of three. Point blank, Gerald wanted none of the Chicago Bulls defense.
Pippen Peoples, this is only one night. But it was an important one. There are more personnel moves coming, but one thing is for sure. The Chicago Bulls deserve all of the respect in the world for what they accomplished last night. This is a professional team that you saw last night. Under some difficult circumstances they went out and did their job. Kind of like the working class of Chicago. No excuses!