Historically the "Circus Trip" for the Chicago Bulls has been bad news ever since the retirement of Michael Jordan, having gone 10-61 in those games. They are hoping this year that changes, and they got off on the right foot by winning the first game in Houston, 95-91, their fourth consecutive win overall.
Derrick Rose, their young and emerging superstar, once again led the way with 33 points and 7 assists. Rose answered a couple of questions as to whether he was ready to take the next step into being a bona fide superstar, specifically when he was going to add the outside shooting to his game, and secondly whether he had the ability to take over a game in the fourth quarter.
On the first count, he matched a career high with four 3-point attempts, and the second question was answered when he scored 17 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, along with two assists and two steals in that quarter. Overall he passed out seven assists and had three steals in the game, along with three rebounds.
Rose continued to have problems getting to the line, even in cases where he clearly deserved the call. However, after getting whistled for his fourth foul and sitting for a while, he came back even more aggressive and actually got some calls. Coach Tom Thibodeau in the postgame interview credited him for that.
It was an ideal game for him to really step up in the fourth quarter as the other young Bulls' stars were below their season averages. Joakim Noah only had 12 points and nine rebounds; Luol Deng fairedslightly better with 16 points and ten rebounds, along with four assists. However his 16 points came on 6-of-21 shooting from the field.
How many games will the Bulls win on their Circus Trip?
The Bulls also were helped by arguably one of the best overall bench performances of the year. Korver scored 10 with two of two from behind the arc and Ronnie Brewer played perhaps his best game yet, contributing 11 points and adding three steals, along with an overall excellent defensive performance.
For the Houston Rockets, they were led by Luis Scola who had 2 and ex-Bull Brad Miller who scored 21. Leading Rockets scorer Kevin Martin though was held to 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting as thee combination of Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer kept him in check.
Next up for the Bulls is San Antonio who will be the first of five consecutive difficult road games. Overall those opponents have a combined record of 34-15, and all five are over .500. Following the Spurs they will be playing in Dallas, at the Lakers, then Phoenix and Denver before finally ending the Circus Trip with a slightly easier opponent in the Sacramento Kings.
The Bulls are hoping that after the road trip is over their offseason acquisition, Carlos Boozer will be able to start playing for the season. Boozer broke his hand tripping over a gym bag this summer. He was cleared to begin light shooting today. The next step is to be cleared for full practices and then he'll be able to start playing in games. They are hooping that will come at the start of December.