I have a question for all of the Pippen Peoples out there. Who in the Eastern Conference has the best record in 2014? Miami? Nope! Indiana then? Not them. It’s the Chicago Bulls! The Bulls are a conference best 20-8 since we all screamed “Happy New Year” watching Dick Clark’s Rocking Eve. Let’s go over everything because the Bulls haven’t looked like this without a certain guard with the last name of Rose. (No, not Jalen.) The Bulls at 32-26 have taken over the third seed in the Leastern conference leapfrogging the idle Toronto Raptors. They are at a season high six games over .500. The Bulls have now won eight of their last nine games plus five of their last seven on the road. Think I’m done? Nope. This is the third game the Bulls have scored over 100 points and here’s the kicker…for the season the Bulls are 27-7 in games that they hold their opponents under 92 points. To all the Bulls fans that have agonized the last two months over the ugliness that was the Bulls offense, sit back enjoy it and congratulations. You fans deserve it.
The Chicago Bulls are on a serious roll right now avenging a 22 point beat down earlier in the year defeating the Dallas Mavericks 100-91. Taj Gibson had his first career 20-15 game in his career, scoring 20 points and 15 rebounds. I could go on a rant about why this man should be in the starting line-up but I will save that for later. Must keep up the good vibes here. Jimmy Butler has been on a serious roll since he got back from his rib injury. Butler scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. As for Kirk Hinrich, when was the last time anyone remembers Hinrich going off shooting 7-8 from the field? I’ll wait. He scored 17 points including two from the land of three. Joakim Noah had no points or rebounds in the first half, but still finished the game with ten points and nine rebounds and four assists. More importantly he led the complete defensive lockdown of the Dallas offense in the 4th quarter only giving up 15 points.
It’s time to give Mike Dunleavy his due. He brought 16 points and seven rebounds to the Bulls offensive rebirth party. He shot 50% from the field during the game including 4-7 from three-point land. In my trade recap a couple of days back I talked about the big move the Toronto Raptors made was by not trading Kyle Lowry. It’s starting to look like the Bulls have done the same thing with Dunleavy. The Houston Rockets wanted Dunleavy for EXACTLY what he provided last night. He is providing the proper spacing for the Bulls offense so it can limit the double teams on the Blues Brothers Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. With the offense being run through Noah, Dunleavy’s shot making gives Noah time to read the defense and make the right play. It must be working because Noah leads the team in assists. Last night, he added four more to the collection plate. When Dunleavy was struggling earlier in the year, the Bulls weren’t winning, but now he has found his stroke and confidence, the Bulls have gone on an offensive run we haven’t seen in a while.
What recap would be complete without talking about the Bulls vaunted defense. They kind of needed it last night falling behind 24-10 in the first quarter and as much as 16 in the first half. It was starting to look like that 22 point beat down the Mavs put on Chicago in December. Vince Carter was killing them kind of like he was doing the last time the Bulls played the Mavericks. Then the Bulls reminded Vince why he is Half man-Half a Game. He had 14 points in the first half, 1 point in the second and if you close your eyes you will know how much he scored in the fourth. Carter went 0-6 from the field in the last frame. Dirk Nowitzki had 15 points as well but when Joakim Noah decided enough was enough he was shut down as well. Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 20 points and hit two milestones, he had his 1000th steal of his career, while knocking down his 500th three pointer.
Ah, the Boozer report. Okay everyone, all of the starters for the Bulls scored in double figures last night except for one…take a wild guess. Come on. I’ll give you a hint. His name is at the start of this paragraph. Carlos Boozer scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes of work. On any other team in the NBA would have this dude riding pine, but Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is right on bringing Taj Gibson off the bench. Gibson provides scoring punch every night and is reliable. DJ Augustin has fallen off some and Tony Snell is not ready to contribute on a consistent basis as a rookie. Think about it, would you really want Boozer linked up with this bunch? Just sayin!
The Bulls play the Bronx Zoo…I mean the New York Knicks is next. They play on Sunday.