- Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Cory Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson, a 24 year old rookie out of Baylor, is just eight games into his pro career. In those eight games, Cory has attempted four shots from beyond the line and has made none of them. Here is one of those shots:
Stay inside the arc, Cory.
Don’t put butter on your popcorn right before a game, Cory.
- The game got off to a rocky start for Chicago. The Bulls fell behind 10-1 in the first quarter. They looked sluggish the first six minutes of the game, with Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson failing to box out on the defensive glass and the Nets capitalizing on the opportunities they were given.
- Oh yeah, Taj started this game. Joakim Noah was inactive against Brooklyn due to injury. Jo wisely took the night off to rest his ailing ankle (and knee) against an opponent that didn’t demand the highest level of defensive intensity. The impact was decreased further by the absence of Brook Lopez (back), Joe Johnson (illness) and Mirza Teletovic (hip, face). I have no way of knowing if Joakim voluntarily deemed himself too injured or if team medical staff didn’t clear him, but either way this was a good game for him to miss.
- Taj, aside from the opening sequence, filled in admirably as the team’s defensive anchor. Finishing the game a +17 in 31 minutes, Taj scored 11 points on 55% shooting, snagged ten boards and swatted SIX shots. Taj is currently allowing opponents to shoot 46.4% on field goal attempts at the rim, a solid 15th out of 65 among players who defend five or more rim attempts per game. As he works himself back from an ankle injury of his own, that number will fall even lower (44.9% in 2013-14), but for tonight Taj’s defense was made an impact the Bulls needed with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year on the shelf.
- Taj was not all defense tonight. This happened:
- Derrick Rose, for stretches of the game, looked like Derrick Rose. After a pretty anonymous first quarter where Rose seemed unwilling to challenge the Nets defense at all, Rose exploded in the second to take the lead after falling behind early. Rose went on a quick 7-0 run by himself, scoring a bucket and drawing a foul from Deron Williams to kick things off. Derrick scored 23 points, his fifth 20 point contest of the season, shooting a tidy eight for 15 from the field to go along with three triples on seven attempts.
- Much of the criticism surrounding Rose’s play this year (STOP YOUR CRITICISM HE IS PLAYING THIS YEAR) has centered around his love affair with the three point shot, a shot he is not necessarily good enough to be taking at his current rate. Rose is shooting 30% from deep this season, hoisting up just under six attempts per game. The average falls in line with his accuracy of 31.1%. The difference this year is the rate at which he is attempting bombs. Rose only shot 4.4 threes per game in 2012, his last meaningfull season, and only 25% of his field goal attempts that year were threes. This year, 45.5% of Rose’s shots have been threes.
- Tonight, Rose’s three point successes came in catch and shoot situations where he was able to step into rhythm and make it rain. This seems like a far easier shot for Rose (and everyone else) but the numbers do not really support this hypothesis. Rose is shooting an identical 2.8 threes per game off the dribble and in catch and shoot scenarios. When he pulls up, Rose is good on 35.3% of his threes. When he steps in rhythm? 26.5%
- After playing the Nets to a draw after the first half, the Bulls completely dominated quarters three and four. Brooklyn managed only 25(!) points in the second half and really struggled to get the ball inside and make anything from the perimeter. When the Bulls turned up the intensity, the short-handed Nets wilted.
- Overall, this game was won by the superior team. The Bulls shot 46% from the field and held Brooklyn to 33%. Chicago out rebounded the Nets 57-44 and scored pretty much at will in the paint. Friday’s game against Portland will prove to be a tougher test, but after a solid performance Wednesday, and (hopefully) the return of Joakim Noah, it will end in similar fashion.