- Tonight’s win against the Memphis Grizzlies was one of the seemingly rare times in which the Bulls won with relative ease. The Bulls outshot Memphis in every part of the game and overcame a slight negative turnover margin as well. In the end, the Bulls improved to 15-8 with a 98-85 win.
- This puts them within a game of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who they won’t face until January 23. If the season ended today, the Bulls would have the second seed in the East. They continue to win games in spite of often not looking quite like a good basketball team.
- Joakim has been earning his minutes. In his last three games, he’s posted a +6, +14, and +7. By comparison, in the three games before that, he was -1, -18, and -1. Whatever has changed, this is a trend that he has not shown with this consistency so far this season, so my hope is that it can continue. Overall, the Bulls have been slightly better with him on the floor.
- The guards came through. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler played like the dynamic duo that we have hoped to see all season. Rose scored 19 and Butler added 24. Rose got off to a hot start, pouring in 10 points in the first quarter on an exciting array of layups and jumpers. Doug McDermott added 17 points himself, coming largely from his four three pointers. Even Aaron Brooks, in spite of a rough start to the game, was able to add 7 points as well.
- Is this “Hoiball”? In the quarter season report just a couple of days ago, I wondered when we might start to see glimpses of what the Bulls will look like when they are fully playing the Fred Hoiberg style of basketball. Perhaps this game against the Grizzlies was a bit of a look at what that might be. They shot better than they have most of the season (44.2%), and used a particularly strong third quarter to build a comfortable lead that Memphis could never chip away at in the last quarter of the game with any success. In the third quarter, the Bulls shot 11/26, compared to 5/17 from Memphis. Defensively, they controlled the post play of the Grizzlies and kept them from being able to get the ball into the paint and create any scoring opportunities.
- The group of Kirk Hinrich, Aaron Brooks, Doug McDermott, Pau Gasol, and Joakim Noah was surprisingly strong in the second half, particularly, of course, in the third quarter. With the exception of Brooks, all four of the other players in this group were well above even in terms of +/-. McDermott led this group at a surprising +10. After a pretty rough start to the season on the defensive end, Doug McBuckets has been on a nice roll in his last few games as well.
- Since dropping three games December 5th-9th, the Bulls have won their last four games. Granted, this included a matchup against Philadelphia, but it lends credence to the possibility that the Bulls might actually be able to maintain their spot high in the standings as the season progresses.
- Coming up: the Bulls will host the 15-12 Pistons at the United Center on Friday night. They’ll be playing on back-to-back nights this weekend, as they’ll go from Friday’s home game to New York to take on the Knicks on Saturday.