Chicago dominated for most of the contest, winning the game 103-87. Big Macs for everybody! Fans of "Da Bulls," rejoice.
Strangely, the Bulls were just 13-11 at the United Center but an astounding 12-5 away from home, the best road mark in the NBA. Perhaps they should've asked the Golden State Warriors to play the game at a neutral site, but they did just fine on this night.
The Warriors have been one of the big surprises in the NBA. They've posted a 26-15 record, putting them in fifth place in the conference and six games out of first. But they've played .500 ball over their past 10 games and are just treading water right now.
David Lee made the All-Star team as a reserve, but some fans were disappointed that Stephen Curry got snubbed, as he's been even more valuable to the Warriors than the double-double machine that is Lee.
The Bulls put up 63 points in the first half of this one, which was their highest mark of the season. Golden State featured some Swiss-cheese defense and got badly outrebounded (56-37) despite the prowess of Lee on the boards.
Jimmy Butler continued to impress in place of the injured Luol Deng, while Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were their usual potent selves. How about three players putting up a double-double before the end of the third quarter? Yes, please!
Kirk Hinrich was practically unable to miss a shot from long range, and Nate Robinson was irrepressible. All this was too much for Golden State to handle, and they left frigid Chicago hanging their heads.
Kirk Hinrich, PG: A-
Hinrich started off red-hot in this game, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter on the way to a 31-13 advantage for Chicago after 12 minutes. He finished the first half with 19 points behind four three-pointers.
Hinrich also chipped in three assists and ran a potent Bulls offense. They poured in 63 in the first half and cruised to a win from there.
Though he only ended up with four dimes, he led the team in scoring with 25 points as the Bulls rolled over the Warriors. He also hit six three-pointers on seven attempts.
Hinrich's man on the other side, Stephen Curry, was relatively held down with a subpar shooting night (7-of-18) and dearth of assists (one).
Hinrich flat-out shined in this one and piloted Chicago to a victory.
Richard Hamilton, SG: C+
The Bulls opened up an 18-point lead in the first quarter, and though Hamilton had only two points, he added three assists, a rebound and a blocked shot (somehow).
While Hamilton wasn't especially valuable for his scoring on the night (five points on 2-of-6 shooting), he did finish with a plus-18-point differential when on the court, suggesting all of his great intangibles. But a dozen more points would have been concrete proof of his solid play.
Hamilton didn't see big minutes either (19:42), even though he started. Belinelli spent almost as much time on the floor at the 2.
Still, the man they call "Rip" is the quintessential veteran. He's almost always in the right place at the right time, he doesn't try to force anything and takes what his opponents give him. He's not especially mistake-prone, and he still gives good effort on defense.
Not to mention the fact that his mask is almost certainly headed to the Hall of Fame some day as one of the most iconic pieces of basketball kit that's not standard issue.
Jimmy Butler, SF: A
The man they call "Jimmy Buckets" started in place of injured All-Star reserve Luol Deng. Since Deng went down against the Boston Celtics on January 18, Butler has been starting at the 3. He was also key to the Bulls outlasting the Celtics in overtime after Deng came up lame in the third quarter of that game
Butler was tremendous in this game. He had seven boards and eight points on 4-of-7 shooting in the first half. He provides the Bulls with a solid option for the frontcourt, but he can also play as a swingman and could warrant some starts at shooting guard when Deng returns.
Butler notched the first double-double of his career (16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 12 boards), and we could be watching a budding star in Chicago. I don't think anyone in the East wants to play this team in the playoffs.
Prior to this game, in his three starts following Deng's injury, Butler has posted double-digit scoring numbers and at least eight rebounds in each game. He has shot well from the foul line (15-of-16) and also has at least three assists and one steal in each start. But he has not shot especially well from the field, going 15-of-37 in the three contests.
Still, Butler is getting his chance and he is not squandering it. He started off well in this game, pulling down six rebounds in the first quarter alone. And he kept the motor running from there.
Carlos Boozer, SF: B+
Boozer came storming out of the gates with eight points and eight boards in the first quarter. He reached a double-double with five minutes remaining in the first half.
Boozer was part of the interior domination that led the Bulls to an astounding 21-7 rebounding advantage after one quarter. David Lee had just one of those boards for Golden State through 12 minutes.
And speaking of All-Star David Lee, perhaps Boozer was a little bitter about not being selected to the squad instead of a player who eschews defense. Boozer played angry, stifling Lee and limiting him to just 1-of-7 shooting in the first quarter.
Ultimately though, there's no holding down Lee on the offensive end. He began attacking the rim on his way to 17 second-quarter points, including 9-of-9 from the line. That's why he's an All-Star (sorry, Carlos).
But it's no knock on Boozer. He played a very good game and led the Bulls all night. He finished up with 15 points and 13 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.
The only complaint about Boozer was his inefficient shooting (7-of-21), but he's a volume scorer. Right? Okay, maybe not, but he still got the job done. He also committed five turnovers, but we'll assume that was just a fluke.
Joakim Noah, C: A
Joakim Noah is the definition of grit and effort in the NBA. The All-Star reserve quietly fills up the stat sheet on a nightly basis and makes his presence felt in the paint on both ends of the floor.
In the first quarter, Noah had five boards and two blocks to go with his four points. The second was more of the same, and Noah finished with eight points and eight rebounds. He also led the team with four first-half assists.
Noah finished up the night with 14 points, 16 rebounds (six offensive), three blocks and a steal. Not too shabby, but it's just what Bulls fans have come to expect from him. His defensive effort also set the tone, and Golden State was held to just 34.6 percent shooting for the game.
Noah, Boozer and Butler also outrebounded the entire Warriors team by themselves (41-37).
Noah missed his first four free throws, but we'll forgive him. If he keeps doing that, however, we may have to convince him to change his sidewinding foul-shooting style.
Marco Belinelli, SG: D
Belinelli played 14 minutes in the first half, but he could muster only three points (1-of-3 shooting) and two assists. Still, he was the worst Bulls player, finishing the first half with a minus-3-point differential when he was on the court.
Belinelli was on the court for much of the Warriors' run late in the first half. Golden State was able to cut their 26-point deficit in half by the end of the second quarter.
Despite the fact that he didn't put up gaudy offensive numbers, the Bulls were much more dominant with Rip Hamilton on the court. Belinelli proved to be ineffective and inefficient for most of the contest. He finished with three points on 1-of-5 shooting and a minus-4-point differential.
Still, as he proved with his game-winner in overtime against the Celtics on January 18, he remains confident through his struggles and isn't afraid to shoot when it matters. He'll need to put this performance behind him.
Rest of Bench: B
Nate Robinson began the game 5-of-6 from the floor for 11 points in his first six minutes, all in the second quarter. At one point, he even ripped a rebound away from Warriors All-Star David Lee.
And did I mention that the tenacious Robinson played for Golden State last season?
Little Nate helped propel the Bulls to start the second quarter, stretching an 18-point advantage out to a 26-point cushion. With six minutes left in the first half, the Bulls found themselves dominating the Warriors 54-28.
Robinson finished the night with 22 points (10-of-16 shooting) in 21 minutes, and "good Nate" was on display for all to see. Perhaps that will make Bulls fans forget about the "bad Nate" that frustrates them with poor shot selection and too much dribbling beyond the arc.
Nate's big night is the sole reason for the grade given above.
Tom Thibodeau rode his starters hard, with only Marco Belinelli and Robinson seeing substantial minutes off the bench. The seven-man rotation was on the floor until garbage time began in the final minutes.
Taj Gibson and Nazr Mohammed saw a handful of minutes each, but neither were much of a factor on offense. Through three quarters, they attempted only one shot, which Gibson missed.
Gibson ended up playing more than 18 minutes but had zero points and four fouls.
Overall, it was a great game from the Bulls, who look ready to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. Oh, yeah, and they're getting Derrick Rose back soon. Yikes.