Booz is back.
It's hard to find many positives for the Atlanta Hawks in this 97-58 loss. They scored a franchise low (and second lowest in NBA history) 20 points in the first half, and they managed just five points in the second quarter.
The Chicago Bulls played well, but more than anything the game was just dreadful on Atlanta's part. The Hawks shot 29 percent from the floor, and it wasn't even all good Bulls defense which led to the futility.
John Jenkins of the Hawks shot an air ball that was about seven feet short of the rim. Devin Harris committed a body check flagrant foul on Kirk Hinrich in frustration that was even more inexcusable than Jenkins' pitiful attempt at a jump shot.
All that said, let's take a look at the Bulls' post game grades from a game they dominated from the eight minute mark of the first quarter onwards.
Kirk Hinrich had a bit of a frustrating game, but his backup Nate Robinson played well off the bench. Hinrich missed all three of his field goal attempts and unfortunately was the recipient of a dirty foul by Devin Harris of the Hawks.
Hinrich took a hard fall to the floor and wanted to retaliate against Harris' act of bad sportsmanship, but he was restrained by Joakim Noah.
Even with Hinrich having the worst performance of any Bulls starter, the Bulls were still plus-17 with him on the floor and he blocked a couple shots.
Rip took it to Devin Harris.
Rip Hamilton had a rough night shooting, hitting just 2-of-7 from the floor, but he played great defense on Devin Harris, who he held scoreless and frustrated all night with physical and gritty play.
Hamilton finished with eight points, but his true impact came on the defensive end, since Harris can potentially have big nights. The thing is, no one had a big night for the Hawks.
Hamilton had scored in double figures in both of the Bulls' two prior games against Phoenix and New York, so this brings his double-digit scoring streak to an end at two games.
Korver can't cover Deng...
Luol Deng had a good and efficient night going against the poor defense of Kyle Korver. Deng didn't look to do a lot, but when he set his mind to scoring against the pathetic defense of Korver, he did. Deng hit 7-of-9 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from distance, to finish with 18 points.
When Carlos Boozer struggled with Josh Smith early in the game before it got out of hand, Deng was called on to cover Smith a few times and quickly took him out of the groove he was finding offensively. Deng is an All-NBA first team defender, so Tom Thibodeau was smart to put Deng on Smith before he got cooking.
Booz looked quicker than ever tonight.
Carlos Boozer is now beginning to play like the Boozer we saw in Utah. Going into tonight's game Boozer had averaged 21.3 points per game and 10.9 rebounds while posting seven double-doubles in the last eight games.
This is the Boozer the Bulls expected when they signed him as a free agent, and the hope is that when Derrick Rose returns, Booz will continue his aggressive play and give the Bulls a legitimate second option on offense.
At around the three minute mark of the first quarter, Carlos Boozer executed an excellent pass fake and spun to the hoop very quickly for a finish and attempt a three-point play (he missed the free throw). It was the quickest I had seen Boozer move possibly since his days at Duke.
Booz continued his hot play tonight, hitting 7-of-14 from the floor and after scoring 10 in the first quarter it appeared Boozer would have a pretty big night. He finished with an efficient 20 points and 13 rebounds, and if he continues to play like this when Derrick Rose returns, the Bulls are going to be a tough team to contend with.
Noah was active on the boards all night.
Joakim Noah had a rough night shooting the ball, and he didn't facilitate the offense as well as he ordinary does (just one assist), but he did a monster job on the glass and kept Al Horford out of the game. Noah's 16 boards helped the Bulls out-rebound Atlanta 59-39.
Horford shot just 3-of-10 from the floor and never got it going on a night when no Hawks really could. Horford averages 15.7 points per game on the season, so Noah's job was well done containing the Florida product.
Although Noah didn't have the best offensive night to say the very least, his defense has to earn him a passing grade. However, none of the Bulls defense was as impressive as it may have appeared, because Atlanta just couldn't buy a bucket.
Gibson was a-swattin-it
Taj Gibson delivered the highlight dunk of the night on Anthony Tolliver. Gibson elevated straight up in the air and tomahawked it on Tolliver's head, adding some excitement in an otherwise very forgettable blowout.
Other than the impressive throw down, Gibson still put together a pretty impressive night, as he blocked five shots, including three of which came from Ivan Johnson. Johnson got very frustrated, as most of his teammates were.
Gibson is a good shot blocker despite being undersized for a 4 man. It's hard to find fault with Gibson's solid play tonight, and the highlight dunk helped keep me awake in a game which provided so little excitement.
Nate the Great was pretty solid.
Outside of Gibson, the bench did a pretty decent job as well. The Bulls got 36 points from their bench (including Gibson), and every Bulls player got to see some court time in the blowout. Daequan Cook scored his first points as a Bull, and Nate Robinson was active and energetic as usual.
Robinson always looks to get offensively involved, and he stayed under control tonight, not committing a single turnover in the game. Robinson also finished with seven rebounds, proving that if you're 5'9" you can still grab a few with the help of a 40-plus inch vertical leap.