Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls: Weeks One and Two Review
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Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls played nine games during the first two weeks of this season. With the season starting over the holidays and with the dizzying pace of this shortened NBA season, it is likely that even the most avid Bulls fans missed out on some of the action. So, let's review.
On December 26, the Bulls suffered their first loss, falling to the upstart Golden State Warriors, who were led by Monta Ellis, the shooting guard who was often associated with the Bulls in trade rumors this offseason.
On December 30, the Bulls played their fourth and final game on their California road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers, a game which pitted Rose against the newly acquired Chris Paul and saw Rip Hamilton sidelined with a groin injury.
On January 3, the Bulls ground out a win at home against the Atlanta Hawks behind a 30-point performance by Rose, who struggled against the Hawks in the playoffs last season.
On January 4, the Bulls won on the road against the Detroit Pistons in Rip Hamilton's first performance at Detroit in a Bulls uniform. Hamilton's homecoming was marred by the fact that he re-aggravated the groin injury he incurred against the Clippers.
On January 6, the Bulls ground out another win beating the Orlando Magic on the road. Rose received help from his supporting cast in this win, most notably from Kyle Korver who was 5-7 from three point land.
On January 7, the Bulls' six game winning streak came to an end against the Atlanta Hawks. The Bulls were in their fourth game of a seven games in nine nights stretch and leaned heavily on their bench.
The NBA regular season is hard enough to follow for the casual fan in a normal year, but with the blistering pace of this season—66 games over the course of 126 days—even the most devoted fans will struggle to keep up. To assist fans of Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, this is a recap of the action of weeks one and two!
Los Angeles Lakers (@ LA)—December 25, 2011
Bulls @ Lakers - Game Recap
Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose ended last season on the same note, losing in the conference finals and ultimately falling short of their goals. Similarly, they are both starting the season in the same situation. Both are marquee players on teams that are legitimate title contenders but are overshadowed by other teams in their respective conference.
But for all the similarities, only one of them could win on Christmas Day.
Kobe was the one bright spot offensively for the Lakers, who only had three players score in the double figures. With Andrew Bynum benched due to his cheap shot on J.J. Barea in the conference finals last season, the Lakers were leaning on Bryant and Pau Gasol, and Pau disappointed with only 14 points and 8 rebounds. Kobe, on the other hand, was the player of the game, finishing with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.
Luol Deng provided the support that Rose was lacking at times last season. He finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 1 block. Deng's most crucial play was his block of Bryant's shot, which came at the end of regulation and would have given the Lakers the win.
Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 22 points and five assists, making key shots at critical moments and was locked in from three-point land, making 4 of 6. But the Bulls looked dull coming out of the gate in this new season.
The Bulls, who only had three players in double figures in scoring, struggled to find a rhythm, and only just squeaked out a win in the final seconds.
Bulls Record: 1-0
Golden State Warriors (@ GS)—December 26, 2011
The Bulls, who, had lost eight out of their last nine games in Oakland against the Golden State, were coming off a big win against the Lakers and looking to continue their winning ways.
The Warriors had big performances from the predictable players. David Lee had 22 points and 7 rebounds, Monta Ellis had 26 points and 7 assists and Stephen Curry had 21 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 6 steals. Curry left the game early with a rolled ankle but was still the most impressive guard in the game.
Luol Deng was a key contributor again for the Bulls. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block and was the only Bull to finish the game with a double-double. Despite his strong performance, one man couldn't make up for the sloppy play of the team.
Derrick Rose's shot just wasn't falling and he looked tired after his big game the previous night against the Lakers. He was held to 13 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds and only connected on 4 of his 17 field-goal attempts. Additionally, Rose struggled to get to the line and ended the night 4 for 4 on free throws.
Bulls Record: 1-1
Sacramento Kings (@ Sac)—December 29, 2011
Bulls at Sacramento - 12/29/2011
Coming off their first loss of the season, the Bulls were looking to rebound against the Sacramento Kings, the youngest team in the NBA.
DeMarcus Cousins was the Kings' best performer with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal. The Kings got double-digit scoring from five players but were unable to keep key players in the game, as both Cousins and Chuck Hayes fouled out.
Jimmer Fredette had a hot hand, finishing the game with 14 points on 5-10 shooting, 2-4 from three-point range and 2-2 for free throws.
Carlos Boozer was the key supporting player for the Bulls, finishing with 16 points, 15 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block. Boozer was 8-16 from the floor but didn't get to the free throw line at all. A strong performance from Boozer early in the season was just what the Bulls were hoping for.
Derrick Rose had 19 points and eight assists off of 7-14 shooting but failed to put forward an MVP performance. He He was only on the court for 32 minutes because of foul trouble, forcing the Bulls to rely on backup point guard C.J. Watson for much of the second half.
Bulls Record: 2-1
Los Angeles Clippers (@ LA)—December 30, 2011
Bulls Clipper December 30, 2011
Closing out their four-game road trip, the Bulls played the new talk of L.A., the Los Angeles Clippers. Any time you get to watch Derrick Rose match up against Chris Paul, you know you are about to witness at least one dominant performance. On this night, fans saw great performances from both all-star point guards.
Paul, playing his first home game of the season, did a good job at battling Rose and finished with 15 points, 14 assists, 4 steals and 4 rebounds. However, Blake Griffin, who is still the Clippers' main attraction, finished with 34 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal.
The Bulls played a well-balanced offensive game. All five starters finished with at least 10 points and five rebounds. The Bulls shot 41 percent from three-point range and had 29 assists. This game was the first time the Bulls looked cohesive this season.
Rose always seem to play well when facing Paul and this night was no exception. Showcasing a variety of acrobatic moves and his improved three-point shot, Rose finished with 29 points, shooting 8-14 from the field. He made three three-point field goals and went 10-11 from the free throw line. Rose completed his stat line with 16 assists, 8 rebounds and 1 steal.
The Clippers made the game interesting pulling with three points in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls played well down the stretch and won.
Bulls Record: 3-1
Memphis Grizzlies—January 1, 2012
Bulls Grizzlies January 1, 2012
Last season the Bulls went 36-4 at home, tying the San Antonio Spurs for the best home record in the NBA. On January 1st, before a raucous crowd of 22,763, the Bulls looked to continue that dominance in their home opener against the Memphis Grizzlies.
No one played well for the Grizzlies in this blowout loss. The Grizzlies were dominated on both ends of the floor. And to add insult to injury, Zach Randolph left the game early with a bruised left knee and only logged 11 minutes of playing time.
The Bulls received another strong team performance as only one active player finished the game without scoring. Bulls fans finally got to see rookie Jimmy Butler, who had 2 points and 2 rebounds in 6 minutes of playing time. But the Bulls did lose C.J. Watson, who went down with a dislocated elbow.
Derrick Rose's stat line wasn't particularly impressive. He finished with 16 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. But in his defense, he spent nearly half the game on the bench and only logged 26 minutes of playing time.
The Bulls played showed why they had the best record in the league at home last year and ran away with a win in this one.
Bulls Record: 4-1
Atlanta Hawks—January 3, 2012
Bulls Hawks January 3, 2012
On January 3, the Bulls faced the Atlanta Hawks for the first time since beating them in last season's Eastern Conference semifinals.
Many teams attempted to shut down Derrick Rose last season but few were as successful as the Hawks.
Josh Smith ended up being the key producer for the Hawks, putting up 15 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal. Joe Johnson failed to earn his paycheck in this game. He finished with only 10 points on 3-17 shooting, missing a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Once again, Luol Deng provided key support for Rose, finishing with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. Deng's biggest contribution came on the Bulls' last possession when he found himself open driving to the basket and made an easy layup to put the Bulls up by two.
Derrick Rose put together another solid performance and was crucial to the Bulls' late-game effort that gave them the win. He had 30 points and 7 assists. Rose also played a critical role on Deng's game-winning shot, as the threat of him having the ball drew a second defender, leaving Deng open.
The Bulls, who were coming off their first blowout win of the season, showed that they are also able to win big games down the stretch.
Bulls Record: 5-1
Detroit Pistons (@ Det)—January 4, 2012
Bulls Pistons January 4, 2012
For the past nine seasons, playing the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills has meant playing against Rip Hamilton. But this year the masked man was playing there for his first time in Chicago Bulls red and black.
Hamilton returned from his groin injury just in time to join the Bulls against his former team. The Bulls have been dominant as of late against the Pistons and were looking for their 12th straight win against Detroit.
The Pistons are a team in the rebuilding process and are lacking a consistent offensive threat, and this was clear against the Bulls. Rodney Stuckey, the one Piston who may have made this game interesting, left early because of a groin injury. Greg Monroe was the Pistons' only threat, finishing with 19 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 block.
Hamilton played a solid game against his former team, finishing with 14 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds. He was welcomed back warmly by the crowd when he was introduced in the starting lineup for the Bulls.
Derrick Rose had another solid game but was cold from three-point range, going 0 for 6. He did, however, finish with 17 points, 10 assists, 2 steals and 2 rebounds. Rose's main highlight play of the night came in the fourth when he showcased his agility by splitting two defenders for an acrobatic finish at the rim.
The Bulls took the early lead in this season's series against the Pistons with a convincing win at the Palace.
Bulls Record: 6-1
Orlando Magic (@ Orl)—January 6, 2012
Bulls Magic January 6, 2012
Derrick Rose started this season by extending his contract with the Bulls for five years and asked that they not include an early termination option. Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic superstar, started this season by asking for a trade using his early termination option on his contract as leverage to force a trade.
Needless to say, these superstars and their respective teams appear to be heading in different directions.
The Magic were led by Howard, who had 28 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. The Magic failed to receive significant contributions from anyone else.Their much-ballyhooed bench was barely used by Coach Stan Van Gundy. Normally a solid three-point shooting team, they were held to only 35 percent from three-point range.
Rose received plenty of support,as Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Kyle Korver all stepped up. Deng finished with 21 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal. Boozer finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. Korver ended the game with 18 points (5-7 from three-point range,) 3 steals, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
Rose flirted with his first triple-double, finishing with 21 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. Rose was both the recipient and the distributor on several nice assists, and although he missed out on his triple-double, Rose was key in this victory coming up with big baskets whenever Orlando looked to be threatening the Bulls' lead.
With another win against a top tier team, the Bulls are off to a great start this season.
Bulls Record: 7-1
Atlanta Hawks (@Atl)—January 7, 2012
Bulls Hawks January 7, 2012
Four days before this game, the Chicago Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks in a tight, low scoring game in Chicago. The Bulls played great defense, made plays down the stretch, and Derrick Rose played like an MVP. Playing for the second time in the same week, playing in the second night of a back-to-back, playing in Atlanta, this was the epitome of a trap game for the Chicago Bulls.
Atlanta played a great all around game. Defensively as a team, the Hawks had 16 steals and 8 blocks. Offensively as a team, the Hawks shot a 56.6% FG%, a 75% 3PT%, and 100% FT%. Josh Smith led the Hawks and finished the game with 25 points, 6 blocks, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.
Kyle Korver was the player of the game for the Bulls and 13 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. Korver led the Bulls in minutes with 35 minutes in a game where only one bench player, Brian Scalabrine, played less than 10 minutes.
Derrick Rose was bad, plain and simple. Rose finished the game with 8 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal while shooting 3-10 from the field, 0-3 from three. Rose looked beat up and was unable to adjust to the suffocating Hawks defense in this game.
The score of this game didn't even properly demonstrate how thoroughly the Bulls were manhandled in this loss to the Hawks.
Bulls Record: 7-2
The Wrap-Up: Weeks One and Two
Thibodeau Pacing the Sidelines
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Despite two bad losses, the Chicago Bulls actually did quite well in their first two weeks. Finishing with a 7-2 record, the Bulls were second in the Eastern Conference only behind the Miami Heat. With wins against the Lakers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Hawks and Magic, the Bulls showed that they are once again one of the top tier teams and a serious contender this season. Four things stood out in the first two weeks of the season:
1. There is something off with Derrick Rose's game. Maybe he worked to hard during the lockout or maybe he didn't work enough, whatever the cause, Rose just seems to be missing that something extra he had every game last season.
2. The Bulls big men need to start contributing on a consistent basis. Carlos Boozer has stepped up and contributed in a few games but we are still waiting for a big night from Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik. Noah has been the biggest disappointment of the big men and seems to have fallen off from the player he was last season before the thumb injury.
3. The Bulls are not yet gelling as a singular unit. The Bulls are a team that thrives on chemistry and they have shown early this season that not getting together during the lockout, combined with a short training camp, a hectic preseason and now the dizzying pace of the regular season all combine to lead to dysfunctional play and inconsistent performances. Their schedule lightens a little towards the end of January, so hopefully they use that opportunity to have some meetings, walkthroughs, and practices to create chemistry.
4. Injuries will be the biggest factor going through the regular season and into the playoffs. With Rip Hamilton out, the Bulls are still unable to create on court chemistry with him. With C.J. Watson out, Rose is having to log more minutes and the Bulls bench is falling off a little bit with John Lucas III at the helm. If the Bulls suffer many more injuries throughout this short season, it may be difficult to find the rhythm needed to make it through the playoffs to the Finals. Nevertheless, the Bulls need to be patient with injured players and allow them to heal completely before returning to the court otherwise you will have players playing with nagging injuries all season.
At the end of two weeks the Bulls definitely have areas to improve on but things are looking good in Chicago. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!