Game Notes: Celtics at Bulls
The Bulls get revenge on the Celtics while Derrick Rose sits out, again.
by Bryan Crawford | @_bryancrawford
Is Derrick paying tonight?
That was the first question asked of Tom Thibodeau during his pre-game media session. Rose’s back is the first and only thing on people’s mind in Chicago. The Bulls‘ PG missed three consecutive games with back spasms, but had taken the floor earlier than he usually does for pre-game shootaround, leading to the belief that he might play. So would Derrick Rose suit up against the Boston Celtics?
That was Thibs’s matter-of-fact answer to the million dollar question of the day.
And so it was, DRose would sit out his fourth consecutive game, bringing the number of games he’s missed due to injury this season to 9. That’s the most he’s missed due to injury during his first three years in the NBA. But injuries are a part of the game and the Bulls would have to roll with what they had against the Celtics and it proved to be enough as they edged Boston 89-80 on Thursday night at the United Center.
First time All-Star, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah all raised their level of play to exact a measure of revenge against the Cs who defeated them this past Sunday in Boston, a game in which Rajon Rondo messed around and got a triple double.
Deng registered 23 points and 10 assists; Boozer, 23 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists; and Noah had 15 points and 16 rebounds. Also worth noting, the chemistry between Noah and Boozer in the post has been much improved of late and has made a world of difference for a Chicago team that must get production from its bigs.
Boozer, who feels the lack of chemistry between he and Noah was more media-driven than reality, explained the issue simply.
“Last year we didn’t have a chance to play with each other consistently,” Boozer said. “This year we’ve played the whole year together and you see how good our chemistry is out there. We make plays for each other and it’s usually either a dunk or a layup.”
The interior passing between Noah and Boozer gave Chicago an edge around the basket for a lot of easy Chicago scores and made it difficult for Boston to defend. Doc Rivers attributed those easy baskets to the zone defense he employed, something he says he’s not a fan of, but feels was necessary.
“Yes, we played zone tonight, but I’m not for it most of the time. But this year, with this many games, you have to use it. If you stay in the zone long enough, they will find the lanes and openings and tonight they kept cutting and cutting finally found openings.”
Rivers also cited Chicago’s rebounding as a reason for the Celtics shortcomings. The Bulls out-rebounded Boston 52-37 and 16-6 on the offensive glass. That’s usually a recipe for success in any ballgame.
“Today the reason they stopped us was because they controlled the glass. It kept us from getting out and running,” Rivers said.
The Bulls also received an unlikely contribution from Mike James who was just recalled from the Erie Bayhawks of the NBDL as PG insurance because of Rose’s back injury. He came in off the bench and played quality minutes—including closing out the fourth quarter—scoring 8 points, dishing out 4 assists and earning the respect of the locker room for his contribution to the win.
“Mike is tough. Mike is a pro,” said Luol Deng. “He came in just ready, he stayed ready and we didn’t miss a beat. A lot of teams, the rhythm would be messed up a little bit, but he’s been going in early and running the plays.”
Said James: “You have to be professional, you have to be ready. One thing I always say is, It’s better to be ready than to get ready.”
The Bulls will now have to get ready for the lowly New Jersey Nets who visit the United Center on Saturday. In their last meeting, Chicago throttled New Jersey, 108-87.