The Chicago Bulls took on the Washington Wizards in the nation's capitol last night in what we here at Bulls 101 correctly predicted to be an un-watchable game. From the opening tip, both teams struggled with their shooting and continued their struggles until the end of the game. Almost all of the scoring came through Chicago and Washington alternating small runs of good shooting. Defensively, Washington put up some solid defense on occasion, however, it was nothing a team with more offensive weapons couldn't get by easily. Chicago on the other hand continued to play lights out defense despite some lapses (most of which occurred with Boozer on the floor… but I'll get to that).
Overall, the game was ugly from the beginning and I'm shocked anyone even bothered to watch it.
Enough of the summary, let's move onto grades:
Noah had a decent night tonight. He almost recorded yet another double double for himself but unfortunately fell just a little bit short on the scoring. I have to attribute this to his own fault though. To begin the game, Noah was very tentative with the ball with his back to the hoop. Often times, he settled by taking jump shots fairly early in the shot clock. While I do appreciate Noah's ability to make those jumpers on occasion (despite the way the spin on the ball violates my eyes), I cannot say I'm entirely pleased with this. Thus far this season, Noah has taken a big step forward with his offensive post game. He's become more efficient and a better finisher around the hoop, especially with his new hook shot. I'd much rather see him taking those shots. Also, by settling for more jumpers, Noah also made it next to impossible for Chicago offensive rebounds, something they rely heavily on for offensive production.
Defensively, there isn't much to say other than Noah provided yet another solid game for Chicago in spite of Boozer.
I would give Noah a B- tonight, however, his shot choice tonight makes that impossible for me to justify.
Ah Mr. Boozer. How nice of you to finally show up to class after being strangely absent the past several games.
As we can see from the stats to the left, Boozer had a pretty good game against the Wizards. It wasn't terribly efficient (15 points on 12 shots), but I'll take it. It's better than what Chicago had been getting in the recent games.
I'd like to give Boozer a higher grade tonight, but defensively he was, yet again, a major liability. Washington often times ran screens that forced Boozer to switch onto one of the guards or Martell Webster. Every time the Wizards pulled that off, they scored. Any time Kevin Seraphin got Boozer one on one, Seraphin scored. If not for Boozer defense, Washington probably would have only scored in the 50s tonight.
Luol Deng was terribly inefficient tonight. He managed to only score 11 points on 13 shots. All the while, he was also slow moving around on offense and was hardly ever in the right spot when the ball was moving around. This ultimately caused too many problems for Chicago's offense.
Defensively, Deng wasn't terrible, but he was obviously a step slow. This allowed Martell Webster to be able to pull off a couple of midrange step back jumpers. On rotations, Deng almost never made it on time which allowed players like Bradley Beal and Shelvin Mack to take the jumper of drive it right to the basket.
Obviously Deng was moving slow today because of the ankle he sprained back in the Houston game. While I'd like to give him credit for showing heart and determination, the fact that he was such a big liability for Chicago tonight is just too great to overlook.
Technically, Richard Hamilton returned and started tonight. However, because Belinelli played more minutes, I'm going to keep him in this slot for now.
Belinelli didn't have a very efficient night shooting, however, he got the job done. He was driving to the hoop fairly well (even dunking it a couple of times) and he was making his three pointers. What really impressed me tonight with his offense was his ability to work off the screen. Any time Belinelli would get a screen, he knew exactly what to do with the ball given the situation. If Beal managed to keep up, he would find an open man to dump it off to. If Beal was lagging behind, he'd pull up for the jumper. While Belinelli didn't make a great deal of those jumpers, they were smart shots that I can live with him missing.
Defensively, he wasn't great as he let Beal and a few others by him, but he at least put forth the effort and managed to alter quite a few jump shots.
I believe Belinelli had the best night among the team.
Kirk Hinrich wasn't great tonight but he wasn't terrible. I don't even think average is quite the right term to describe it.
All I know is that at times tonight, Hinrich looked like an absolute mess. He'd run into situations that he easily could have avoided, he almost turned the ball over like crazy, and barely managed to keep up on defense. At the same time, he managed to make the right passes, take the right right shots, and make plays on defense.
Because I don't know exactly what to make of it all, I'm just going to say tonight was fairly average for Hinrich.
The bench wasn't great against the Wizards despite them having faced the Wizards. Nate Robinson wasn't as efficient as he has been for Chicago this season. Taj Gibson was decent on offense and solid on defense but wasn't crashing the boards as he normally does. Hamilton, who technically started, started off the game playing well on offense (he cooled down and missed the rest of his five shots) and subpar on defense. Jimmy Butler was good on defense and silent on offense, as usual. And Nazr Mohammed was so bad that I actually stopped watching until a friend told me he was on the bench again.
The bench didn't have a great game and needs to step up the level of play, especially Taj Gibson.
Thibodeau did all the right things tonight, including and especially his offensive game plan. From the beginning, it seemed as if the Bulls were going to attack Bradley Beal whether it be through isolation basketball or shooting off of screens. Regardless of the tactic, it worked. Beal was often seen with both feet on the ground as a Chicago player was releasing his shot. While not all of the baskets went in, that's not exactly within Thibodeau's control.
Defensively, he coached yet another strong game. He also called the appropriate timeouts to stop whatever momentum Washington would gain.
Excellent game from Thibs.
While I liked the team's game plan and execution, the game should never have been this close. I understand Chicago isn't the best offensive team in the league, especially with Derrick Rose out, but this is ridiculous. This team should at least be shooting over 40% and have beaten the Wizards by at least 20 points. The team needs to get it together moving forward.
What I Expect For Next Time:
- Better shooting. If the players can select better shots to take, more shots should bounce their way.
- No lapses in defense. At times in this game, Chicago played defense as if they were a team randomly put together for a pickup game. Because it's the Wizards, the Bulls managed to escape with little to no damage done. However, if playing a team with the not worst rated offense in the league, the Bulls could be in trouble.
- Luol Deng resting. I love Thibs and normally stand by any and all of his decisions, but he does not need to be playing an injured Deng 37 minutes. Plain and simple.
Thanks for tuning in everyone. We hope you enjoyed the game and are looking forward to the next game against the Charlotte Bobcats on New Years Eve. Until then!
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