Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Chicago

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2013

Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Chicago

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    Without Joakim Noah, Marco Belinelli and Richard Hamilton, the Chicago Bulls outlasted the Detroit Pistons on Easter Sunday, winning 95-94.

    Luol Deng led all scorers with 28 points and Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 25 off the bench.

    The Bulls got down 14-2 early on as they missed their first six shots from the floor and didn't make a field goal until about five minutes in. Detroit was really working Chicago on both ends, and it was looking as if the Bulls might be too shorthanded.

    That didn't last long, however, as Chicago instantly climbed back into the game and eventually took the lead in the fourth quarter, its first lead since it was 1-0. Thanks to some big plays from Deng down the stretch, the Bulls were able to finish one step ahead of the Pistons.

    Detroit ended the month of March 1-13. April Fool's Day couldn't come soon enough for them.

Point Guard: Kirk Hinrich, C

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    Kirk Hinrich was about average on Sunday night, and his grade reflects that.

    The Bulls point guard scored three points off 1-of-5 shooting and dished out six assists in 34 minutes, recording a minus-5 plus/minus stat.

    His not-so-stellar statistics do not fully tell the story, however, as Hinrich did a solid job running Chicago's offense and getting the team under control in the second half.

    For a Bulls team that started out so poorly on the offensive end, some credit has to be given to Kirk for bringing his guys together and pulling out a win.

    Not a great game for Hinrich, but not a bad one, either.

Shooting Guard: Jimmy Butler, A-

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    What a pleasant surprise Jimmy Butler has turned out to be for the Bulls.

    The swingman scored 16 points off 4-of-7 shooting and hit on seven of his nine free-throw attempts. Thanks to his assertiveness offensively, he was awarded with those nine foul shots, and he made most of them count. He did a great job of holding down the fort for Chicago early on when everyone else was struggling to score the basketball, putting in eight points in the first quarter.

    Butler did pick up a couple of silly fouls in the second, forcing him to the bench for much of the quarter with three fouls, but he would only foul once in the final 24 minutes while playing some outstanding defense to boot. He finished with five steals and wreaked absolute havoc in the passing lanes, his biggest play probably being an interception that he took all the way back for a dunk that tied the game at 78.

    Butler also grabbed four rebounds.

    Nice outing for the Marquette product.

Small Forward: Luol Deng, B+

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    Deng had some huge plays down the stretch, his biggest being a putback off an offensive rebound with just over a minute left. He also drained a huge three late in the fourth.

    That being said, it's tough to give Deng an "A" for his performance against the Pistons, as he shot 7-of-18 from the floor and missed on six of his 17 free-throw attempts. He took some wild shots, and it was very uncharacteristic of Deng to miss so many foul shots. This could have been a bit of a more comfortable win for the Bulls had he been a bit more efficient.

    Nevertheless, Luol did score that game-high 28 points and haul in nine rebounds.

    With so many Chicago players out with injuries, Deng took it upon himself to will his team to victory, so maybe he deserves a bit of a pass for forcing the issue at times offensively.

Power Forward: Carlos Boozer, B-

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    Carlos Boozer did not play a single minute in the fourth quarter, and that was somewhat of a peculiar decision given how well he played in the third. However, one look at his minus-14, and you see why Tom Thibodeau had no qualms sitting out his starting power forward for the duration of the final period.

    Regardless, Boozer played a rather significant role in sparking the Bulls, coming up with all nine of his 11 points and six of his seven rebounds in that third quarter. He pulled down three huge offensive rebounds and was extremely aggressive inside, showing plenty of emotion in doing so.

    Boozer's shooting efficiency was about average, as he shot 5-of-11 from the floor.

    Despite what his plus-minus stat says and the fact that Thibodeau saw fit to bench him for the fourth, this wasn't a bad outing by Boozer, and Chicago may not have won this game without his contributions in the third.

Center: Nazr Mohammed, D+

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    Does Nazr Mohammed realize he is not a jump shooter?

    Mohammed took three 15-footers in the first quarter, missing on all of them and looking incredibly—and expectedly—awkward in doing so. In his defense, one of them was due to the fact that the shot clock was winding down, but the other two just should not have been attempted.

    Mohammed went 0-of-4 from the floor overall and finished with four rebounds in 18 minutes of play. He was victimized by Andre Drummond on the glass, and that was not entirely his fault. Nazr just does not have the athleticism to keep a guy like Drummond off the boards.

    Mohammed posted a minus-12 in place of the injured Noah.

Sixth Man: Taj Gibson, A-

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    Taj Gibson was terrific in this one.

    The reserve forward finished with 11 points and four rebounds, not to mention a plus-13. He was extremely active, and his rather pedestrian amount of boards in 30 minutes does not do him justice for the amount of effort he displayed on the glass against Detroit. It seemed as if he was in on every rebound and loose ball.

    Gibson also drew some key fouls on the Pistons late, getting to the charity stripe eight times overall.

    With Noah out of the lineup, Gibson's responsibilities on the defensive end also increase, and he obliged with three blocks.

    Great night for Taj.

Rest of Bulls' Bench, A

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    The Bulls' bench was absolutely extraordinary against Detroit.

    Nate Robinson scored 16 points and was a plus-12 and Daequan Cook was a huge surprise, scoring 10 points while grabbing six rebounds and handing out four assists. Cook making his presence felt on the glass and doing some playmaking? How often does that happen?

    Of course, Robinson was a bit inefficient, going 7-of-18 from the floor and taking some poor shots, but he also made some crisp passes to facilitate ball movement. Even if Nate still gets a bit wild at times, you can tell that he has matured as a basketball player, and Thibs certainly has confidence in him.

    With Chicago being shorthanded, guys like Robinson and Cook had to step up, and they did. Kudos to them.