- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Bulls understandably looked rusty at times in the first half, but the starters, led by Luol Deng, pushed the Bulls to a 21-4 run to start the second half giving them a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Deng finished with 18 points in 24 minutes. Rip Hamilton added 13 points and four rebounds while Joakim Noah chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.
What it means: Tom Thibodeau has to be pleased with the way his first unit performed. Deng looked to be in midseason form, racing up and down the floor. Hamilton played much freer without the confines of the bulky shoulder brace he wore at times last season. Noah, who had missed the last three days of practice for personal reasons, looked winded but made a few nice offensive moves. The key for the Bulls was the way their first-team offense pushed the ball all night. They played with a pace that most teams don't have early in the preseason. Kirk Hinrich looked comfortable playing with Deng and some of his old teammates, dishing out seven assists.
Stat of the night: The Bulls had 32 fast-break points.
Hits: Veteran center Nazr Mohammed was impressive in his first Bulls appearance. The Chicago native scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Misses: Jimmy Butler struggled badly in his first preseason game. The second-year swingman scored just two points, going 1-for-11 from the field. The Bulls are expecting a lot from Butler off the bench this year and he knows he must play better in order to earn Thibodeau's trust.
What's next: The Bulls have the day off Wednesday. They return to the practice floor Thursday afternoon.
Rapid Reaction: The Bulls starting five looked sharp in the preseason opener.