Chicago Bulls 83, Washington Wizards 81: What did we learn last night?


Derrick Rose made the trip to Rio de Janiero with the rest of the team, but he didn’t play.

Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls won the first ever NBA game in South America last night, beating the Washington Wizards 83-81. And that’s great. Unfortunately, Derrick Rose was held out with soreness in his knee, so that’s the thing that we all have to talk about today.

Not to say that it isn’t a thing worth talking about, mind you. Just that I’d hoped we’d be able to avoid talking about Rose’s knee for the most part this year. Alas.

1) Rose probably is fine, but feel free to panic if you want.

Look, there’s no reason to think Rose suddenly re-injured his knee — he said after the game that he could’ve played but the front office decided it was better to sit him — but the Bulls have a long and storied history of downplaying the severity of injuries and occasionally outright lying about the injury. So if you want to think the worst here, I won’t stop you.

Having said that, everything anyone has said to this point makes this sound like a total non-issue. I don’t get a sinister vibe from any of those quotes, so it’s probably safest to assume all is well until we hear otherwise. I mean, with as cautious as the organization has been with Joakim Noah, I think it’s safe to assume they’re just doing the same with Derrick.

2) Taj Gibson continues to put Carlos Boozer on notice.

Boozer actually didn’t play that poorly last night — 9 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists in about 25 minutes — but Taj Gibson looks absolutely fantastic. He came into the game midway through the first quarter and within his first minute, he’d already dunked twice, including once all over Kevin Seraphin’s face. He’s just as good as ever defensively and his offense appears to have taken a massive step forward. His jumper has been all but automatic so far in the preseason, and his post game looks solid too.

There’s basically no way Tom Thibodeau changes his starting five without either an injury or a prolonged period of failure, but I’d be shocked at this point if Taj isn’t out there finishing every close game until he gives Thibs a reason not to trust him.

3) Marquis Teague isn’t there just yet.

After I published a piece last Friday extolling his virtues, Teague finally got some extended minutes in the preseason and, well…let’s call his play last night inconsistent. He was pretty good in the first quarter, getting to the rim, finding Taj in the lane to get him to the line, that kind of thing. Unfortunately, he was much less good in the second half, prompting Thibs to replace him with Kirk Hinrich in the closing minutes.

I still believe in him, and apparently the Utah Jazz do too, judging by this tweet from ESPN’s Marc Stein:

I guess we’ll see what happens with that, although I doubt the front office makes the deal unless it’s tilted heavily in their favor.

4) Jimmy Butler’s jumper is MIA, but he’s still very good.

Jimmy hasn’t yet shown the same prowess from outside that he did at the end of last season, but the thing about Jimmy is that he contributes in other ways. He scored 11 points on 5/12 shooting, but also had 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. And honestly, I thought I remembered that steals total being much higher. His job also got tougher in terms of having to play without Derrick, so I’m not all that worried.

I think that’s about it. We’ll see you again on Wednesday, when the Bulls take on the Detroit Pistons in Wichita, Kan.