As always, the preseason doesn't matter. Now, to some observations.
1) Tom Thibodeau is a crazy person.
Luol Deng sat out the game with a sore groin — don't worry, his wrist is fine — so Jimmy Butler started in his place. And, in a development that seems surprising until you actually think about it for a second, Butler played all 48 minutes of a meaningless preseaon game on the second night of a road back-to-back.
Either Butler or Deng is going to collapse due to exhaustion this season at the rate we're going. Thibs really needs to dial it back a bit. On the bright side, at least we got this out of it.
2) Hot Tub Kirk Machine 3: I'm Beating This Joke Into The Ground
He didn't really look as good tonight as he has the last two games, but he was solid and led the team in scoring. Furthermore, he got to the line eight times — only making five, but still — something that has been a major weakness of his over the past few years. Without Derrick Rose, Butler is the only player with any real track record of drawing fouls, and he has exactly one lockout-shortened season under his belt. Hopefully Kirk Hinrich continues his strong play into the regular season.
3) I don't have a joke here, but Joakim Noah played really well.
14 points and 13 rebounds is a nice day, even if it is preseason. He's going to be crucial to the Bulls relative success this year, what with Rose out and all.
Side note that doesn't quite warrant its own section: The Bulls closed with a Butler/Taj Gibson/Noah frontline, and while they struggled to score, they gave the Minnesota Timberwolves fits on the offensive glass. A theoretical Butler/Deng/Taj/Noah/Insert Point Guard Here lineup would be incredible defensively and would work opponents like a speed bag on the boards. Hopefully we'll get to see a lot of that going forward.
4) I won't make a 'Bench Mob Vista' joke here, but I did think about it.
Marco Belinelli was marginally better tonight than the last two games, after he started in place of Rip Hamilton as Rip got the day off, but Nate Robinson continues to show the decision making ability of a drunk frat boy who hasn't gotten laid in a while and probably the same amount of shooting ability. He and Hinrich finished the game together, which I support in theory since Kirk tends to be better as an off-guard, but Nate has been awful.
Have a nice night. See you on Tuesday for the next game.
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