The Chicago Bulls set a franchise record for blocks in a game with 16 tonight in Cleveland, utterly annihilating the Cavaliers, 114-75. If you're a Cleveland fan, at least you can take consolation in the fact that Derrick Rose didn't play. It could have been worse.
For the Bulls, it stopped being about the scoreboard about midway through the second quarter and became more about injuries, balance and playing 48 minutes of basketball.
On the injuries, there were a couple of scary moments. The first came when Taj Gibson turned an ankle midway through the second quarter. While he continued to play after hobbling around for a bit, he went to the bench a few minutes later and didn't return for the rest of the night. That's the biggest concern right now.
The other scare came when Joakim Noah turned an ankle. However, he stayed in the game and seemed fine, playing in the second half.
This game was an outstanding offensive performance. The Bulls shot lights out, and the scoring was balanced with five players once again hitting double digits. Luol Deng had 21, Carlos Boozer had 19 and CJ Watson had 15.
Joakim Noah had eight points and 10 rebounds. There are good signs that he and Boozer are finding a good rhythm together.
The play of the night though had to go to Brian, "The White Mamba" Scalabrine, who turned on the spin cycle.
How much more evidence does someone need to show he makes a difference in the offense? It's hard. The Bulls, after a somewhat rough start, had a solid defensive effort. The Cavs were unusually hot from deep to start the game, hitting on six of their first nine, but after that, they cooled off, and with the Bulls dominating in the paint, they really didn't have anything left to go to once their luck ran out.
Once again, it's incredibly apparent that Richard Hamilton makes an enormous difference to this offense. Including tonight's games, the Bulls are now scoring 104.5 points in games where Hamilton has played compared to 90.3 when he hasn't.
It's easy to see the difference if you just look at Hamilton's numbers. It's his effect more than anything that matters. The team shoots an effective field goal percentage of 52.9 percent with Hamilton on the court compared to 47.2 percent when he's on the bench.
That doesn't include tonight's .590 eFG percentage by the team.
His presence brings such balance to the team that the Bulls simply always have a mismatch on the court, and they have such an intelligent and selfless team that they keep finding him. After tonight's game, they should move into fifth in the NBA in assists per game.
Anyone who says that the Bulls can't beat the Heat because they don't have anyone who can score should watch this absolute plastering the Bulls put on the Cavaliers. Obviously, Miami's defense is better than Cleveland's, but that's not the point.
The point is that this isn't the same Chicago offense as last year. It's balanced, and it's efficient, and it's not nearly as reliant on Rose. This is a team that has scored 232 points in its last two games with Rose on the bench.
Imagine what happens when he comes back.