Chicago Bulls Preseason Game No. 7: A Glimpse at the New Rotation?


The Chicago Bulls snapped a three-game losing streak during the preseason, but the most intriguing thing of the night was Fred Hoiberg‘s rotation for Tuesday’s game. Did Hoiberg show his hand in terms of the starting rotation for the regular season?

Six different Chicago Bulls scored in double figures — led by Aaron Brooks‘ 22 points — and the Bulls defeated the Indiana Pacers in their home preseason finale, 103-94.

The curious thing about the night wasn’t Brooks being Chicago’s leading scorer on Tuesday night. New Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg played 10 guys on Tuesday night. It may have been a preseason game, but Hoiberg coached Tuesday night like a regular season game against their division rivals from Indiana.

On Tuesday night, the Pacers “went big” with a lineup of George Hill, Monta Hill, Paul George back at his natural wing position, Lavoy Allen and Ian Mahinmi. Hoiberg rolled out a starting lineup of Kirk Hinrich, Tony Snell, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol.

Not only did Mirotic and Gasol start together — similar to their team with Team Spain during this summer’s Eurobasket tournament — Fred Hoiberg expressed his happiness with the two International stars playing together after Tuesday’s victory.

Speaking of Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, their Tuesday nights were both something to bring to the light. At one point, Gibson played 14 straight minutes (Sup, Thibs?), but the long stretch was beneficial. Tuesday was the first time Taj Gibson reached the 20-minute plateau in a preseason game since his offseason ankle surgery.

“I was about to faint. They were looking at me, laughing. I was pulling my jersey. But it was cool,” Gibson said after Tuesday’s game.

More from Bulls News

Joakim Noah was another story from Tuesday night. Hoiberg couldn’t sit Mirotic, who made seemingly every shot he took on Tuesday.

Plus, there’s always the “Gasol/Noah experiment didn’t work last season” thought in the back of Hoiberg’s head.

“Whatever is best for the team,” Noah said before Tuesday’s game. “It’s not about me right now, it’s about this team. We have to figure out ways to get better, and we will.”

Noah played for just 15:26 on Tuesday night thanks to a bit of foul trouble.


  • It’s not all that shocking that Hoiberg appears to be set on starting Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol. Hoiberg’s an offensive-minded coach, and despite the potential drop in defensive pressure from Mirotic and Gasol, it appears that Hoiberg will start the year with the two Spanish National Team members paired together. The ideal pairings in the frontcourt seemingly would be Mirotic-Noah and Gibson-Gasol for balance on both ends of the floor for the Bulls, but Hoiberg is happy with what he’s seen from Mirotic and Gasol together.
  • What stopped many in their tracks on Tuesday was the fact that rookie Bobby Portis picked up a “DNP” (did not play) on Tuesday night. Portis has been a rising star during the preseason for the Bulls, averaging 12.2 points and 10 rebounds per contest in the first six preseason games. This comes all the way back to when Portis was drafted in June. The Bulls are crowded up front with everyone healthy at the moment, so finding playing time for a rookie isn’t the easiest thing to do.
  • Aaron Brooks exploded for 22 points on Tuesday night and hit four of his six three-point attempts (just like Nikola Mirotic did). E’Twaun Moore made five of his seven field attempts and pulled down seven rebounds in over 18 minutes on Tuesday. Both of these performances should be taken into the fact that Kirk Hinrich is starting for the Bulls while Derrick Rose is out. In terms of balance on both ends of the floor, Moore would be the best option of the three, while bringing Brooks off the bench for a scoring pop a la Doug McDermott.

Derrick Rose update:

On Tuesday, Derrick Rose went through his first contact practice since having orbital bone surgery on Sept. 30. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune provided an update on Rose:

"Hoiberg was upbeat about an individual workout by Derrick Rose in which he took contact to the body from assistant coach Randy Brown, who wore pads while Rose shot. But Rose’s left eye still isn’t fully open because of swelling and Hoiberg said Rose occasionally experiences double vision. Hoiberg said the Bulls will proceed cautiously. “Until he gets that full vision, he still will not be (taking) full contact,” Hoiberg said."

One final note: Welcome back, PG-13

Paul George’s devastating leg injury during last summer’s Team USA scrimmage was frightening and depressing for the NBA as whole. George is one of the young superstars of the league and it’s wonderful to see him back into action healthy and ready to go.

He did this last night and … holy crap.

George scored 26 points on Tuesday night to go along with 13 rebounds for the Pacers. Games in the Central Division are going to be really exciting this year and that’s somewhat of an understatement.

Next: Fred Hoiberg must address slumping defense in the early going

More from Pippen Ain't Easy