I really don’t have a handle on this squad. There I said it. If you are a Bulls fan and comment that you do have this team figured out, you are lying through your teeth. After getting run out of the United Center by the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday on a night that Taj Gibson missed dunks, Carlos Boozer thinking about apples and cherries with all those turnovers he had in the game, Coach Thibodeau blaming himself for not having the team ready, Jimmy Butler saying it was on the players. This was a scene from the “Twilight Zone”. Then the Houston Rockets come to town with James Harden and Dwight Howard who has a penchant for scoring points and caught what the Bulls had on Tuesday. The Chicago Bulls grounded the Houston Rockets 111-87 to end a four game losing streak to the Rockets. For a complete game recap please check out Ashley Wijangco’s piece on the game. As always informative and a good read. The Bulls held serve after all of the other Leastern Conference rivals won last night who are fighting for positions three through seven. The Bulls have held their opponent under 90 points a league leading 31 times! Their record is a robust 24-7. What does that tell us? When the Bulls put their defense together with an offense that scores once a day, they are tough to beat. The Bulls put this one away with a 24-4 run to start the second half. Here’s the three things I learned during the game.
1) Mike “Dun-Dun” Dunleavy has some serious heart.
It was the worst of times and the best of times for Mike Dunleavy. The worst of times was the first half. He was 0-2 from the field when Houston’s Chandler Parsons was driving towards the hoop and cracked Dunleavy over the head and drew blood. His face looked like how he was playing…horrifying. He got some stitches and came back for the second half. Man, he cracked the whole Houston franchise. He dropped 18 points in the third quarter on the way to a team high 21 points. He almost had his own triple-double with seven rebounds and 10 stitches. Pippen Peoples, I have to say for years people clown Duke players for being soft (#5 for the Bulls does very little to squash this stereotype) but Dunleavy showed otherwise. The way that eye looks he may not be able to play against the Kings if it keeps swelling. Man I hope he plays though. DeMarcus Cousins and Dunleavy can continue their East Coast…West Coast beef. Remember that confrontation they had in Sacramento? This is going to be good. Dunleavy may have cemented his spot in the locker room as one of the toughest players on the team. If that is the case, he really needs another nick-name. “Dun-Dun”? Really? Come on fellas, you can do better. As much press as DJ Augustin, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah is getting, Dunleavy is the X-factor. If he shoots over 50% in a game, the Bulls almost always win.
2) I may be close to figuring Carlos Boozer out.
Carlos Boozer needs to be motivated. I’d love to take credit so I will. Every time I have a rant about how bad this dude is playing he comes out and plays hard. Boozer came out aggressive and scored 12 points in the 1st quarter on the way to 18 points and seven rebounds. He even tried to dunk on somebody! He missed of course but you could see that he was engaged. The Bulls need to run plays for him early, maybe put him on the block and make sure he’s gets touches. Maybe then he will try to play defense on the other end. Look everyone, the guy gets hammered a lot in the press (and if you read the rant on Boozer, you will know they are right) but one thing is clear, if the man plays like he has some sense, blowouts like these usually happen.
3) My man Taj Gibson might be hitting the wall a little bit.
After scoring one point more than I did on Tuesday night. Gibson only had five points last night against the Rockets. He may be a little tired. I mean the guy leads the league in 4th quarter minutes much to Carlos Boozer’s dismay. He only played 18 minutes last night to 33 for Boozer. Power Forward controversy? Nah, just give the dude some rest. Better now than the playoffs. He did make up for that missed dunk though with one of the nastiest dunks of the season putting Omer Asik on a computer screen saver. However, Gibson needs to get out of this mini slump quickly before the Oklahoma City Thunder come calling next week. The Bulls are going to need his scoring against that bunch.
There’s my three…Now learn from this!
The Bulls had 35 assists to only eight turnovers. That means the ball is moving. Six Bulls were in double figures last night.