Trans. Dec 7 9:17 ET (Dec 7 9:17 ET ) All-Star small forward Luol Deng has earned a reputation as one of the league’s top ironmen, if not the premier workhorse in the NBA, so his absence Saturday night, in the Bulls’ 92-75 loss to the Pistons at the United Center, was conspicuous. Deng is suffering from a sore left Achilles’ tendon and although the Bulls’ morning shootaround is when knowledge of the injury first came to light—thanks to teammate Joakim Noah and later confirmed by Bulls head coach Thibodeau, albeit reluctantly—he’s actually been playing through the ailment since the team’s Nov. 27 win, coincidentally at Detroit. A lot of swelling and it’s still got a lot of swelling,” the Bulls’ leading scorer explained.
Joakim Noah may have summed it up best, if a tad inappropriately: “We sucked tonight and we’ll do better next game,” the All-Star center repeated, following the Bulls’ 92-75 loss to the Pistons at the United Center. But without three starters—All-Star small forward Luol Deng, suffering from a sore left Achilles’, joined sidelined shooting guard Jimmy Butler, still recovering from a turf-toe injury, and of course, Derrick Rose—Detroit won in Chicago for the first time since 2006, courtesy of the Bulls’ 33.3 percent shooting from the field, a nine-point third quarter, losing the battle of the boards and allowing 12-for-19 three-point shooting, a major reason Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings scored 33 points on the evening. You have a good win and the thing you’re concerned with is how quickly everything can change, so you lose a guy and you’re starting a different group, then your bench changes,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. Taj Gibson, filling in for Deng at a new position and perhaps the Bulls’ lone bright spot, scoring 21 points and 10 rebounds to notch another stellar outing in what’s been a career individual season thus far, was similarly defiant.
When discussing the Bulls' goal of keeping the momentum from their triumphant Thursday-night victory over Miami going, Joakim Noah unwittingly spilled the beans. After Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau addressed the media following the team’s morning shootaround Saturday at the United Center — and vaguely referencing, “We’ve got some guys who are nicked up” — the center slipped in a quick mention that he didn’t know if his teammate, fellow All-Star Luol Deng, would suit up for the evening’s home game against the Pistons.
In the second season of his second stint in Chicago, Kirk Hinrich once again has been asked to take on starting point guard duties. Derrick Rose's torn meniscus thrust Hinrich back into the starting role, where he averaged 7.7 points and 5.2 assists in 60 starts for the Bulls a year ago. Injuries aside, Hinrich has been a reliable asset for Tom Thibodeau, last year allowing Nate Robinson to remain with a second unit deprived of scoring and, in 2013, keeping sophomore Marquis Teague on the bench as he continues to develop in Year 2. His shooting numbers have been poor since arriving in Chicago -- a career 42.7 percent shooter before signing with the Bulls in 2012, Hinrich has shot just 37.7 percent in one-plus years -- but Hinrich has been an apt passer surrounded by scorers in Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.
But Lenny Cooke, another player who was once in his position never even got a chance to sniff the same professional success. Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah grew up admiring Cooke and called him his “hero,” as AAU teammates in New York. Noah was a lightly-regarded prospect himself before hitting a growth spurt, blossoming as a talent and ending up at Florida, where he won two NCAA national championships. He was my first teammate when I moved from France to New York and it just happened really fast.
For whatever criticism is aimed at Carlos Boozer, it must be said that the Bulls power forward handles it all very gracefully, as nimble as his footwork in the low post. But while the Bulls, especially sans Derrick Rose, are usually jump-started by All-Star center Joakim Noah’s energy, inspired by veteran floor general Kirk Hinrich’s intangibles, have the gaps filled in by All-Star small forward Luol Deng’s all-around play and get an extra boost from top reserve Taj Gibson, Boozer’s understudy, it must be acknowledged that as much as those blue-collar players are the heart and soul of the squad, none of them is as offensively gifted as the much-maligned native of Alaska. Therefore, as much as the Bulls’ defense, certainly not Boozer’s forte, was responsible for holding the high-flying Heat to 87 points Monday night at the United Center, his offense, responsible for a game-high 27 of the home team’s winning 107 points, is undeniably just as relevant in the scope of the victory.
At Thursday morning’s team shootaround, Miami center Chris Bosh said that the smaller Heat frontcourt would have to combat the Bulls’ bigs by boxing out, working hard and not getting beat on the glass. Joakim Noah had other plans. The Bulls center continued to bounce back in a big way, scoring 17 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and handing out three assists in 33 hard-earned minutes in the Bulls’ 107-87 trashing of the defending champions at the United Center. Though some in the Bulls locker room were hesitant to admit that a win against Miami meant more than if it had come against another team, Noah was blunt in his assessment of taking down LeBron James and Co.
The way everything was crumbling, the Chicago Bulls sure needed a reprieve. Carlos Boozer scored 27 points, and the Bulls pounded LeBron James and the Miami Heat 107-87 on Thursday night. Luol Deng had 20 points, Taj Gibson chipped in with 19, and Joakim Noah added 17 points and 15 rebounds as the Bulls had no trouble taking out the Southeast Division leaders. Chicago took control early on and hung on down the stretch after watching a 25-point lead in the third quarter dwindle to 12 late in the game.
Joakim Noah registered his fourth double-double this season, scoring 17 points and registering 15 rebounds, to help the Chicago Bulls cruise past the Miami Heat, 107-87. The Bulls took quality shots in this one, going 37-74 (50.0%) from the field, including 10-19 (52.6%) from three-point range. Chicago (8-9) picked up the win after falling to New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. Other key players for Chicago included Carlos Boozer with 27 points and 9 rebounds, Luol Deng with 20 points and 5 rebounds, and Taj Gibson with 19 points and 6 rebounds.
We’ve seen this movie before: A short-handed team, facing adversity, is tasked with playing a supposed juggernaut and put together an inspired, team-oriented contest, coming out with the win in the end — which is exactly what happened Thursday night, as the Bulls (8-9) completely dominated the Heat (14-5) from start to finish, winning a 107-87 affair at the United Center in their best game since Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury. Two LeBron James (21 points, five rebounds) transition baskets weren’t the ideal way to begin the contest for the Bulls, but they quickly elevated their level of intensity behind the energy and rebounding of All-Star center Joakim Noah (17 points, 15 rebounds), out to his best start since Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury, and the unexpected offensive firepower of veteran floor general Kirk Hinrich (13 points, seven assists). Getting contributions from a variety of sources, including an aggressive Carlos Boozer (game-high 27 points, nine rebounds), another player who had been struggling of late, the Bulls were able to build a slim edge and after a three-pointer from All-Star small forward Luol Deng (20 points, five rebounds, five assists) in the waning seconds of the opening period, they held a 29-20 advantage through a quarter of play.
The Scoop: None.
Dec 5 9:18 ET
News (various sources)
Heat-Pistons Preview (The Associated Press) (2 Days Ago | courtesy: The Associated Press) While Dwyane Wade returned to help Miami regroup from consecutive defeats, he could be back on the sidelines Sunday versus surging Detroit. That could spell trouble for the visiting Heat, who couldn't handle the Pistons without Wade earlier this week. After falling 107-97 to Detroit on Tuesday and 107-87 at Chicago two nights later, Miami (15-5) pulled out a crucial 103-82 win at Minnesota on Saturday. LeBron James had 21 points, a season-high 14 rebounds and eight assists while Wade scored 19 after missing the previous two games, one due to lingering knee trouble and the other because of illness. More...