Bulls: Carlos Bozoer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Tom Thibodeau wanted his team to turn the page Friday night. He wanted his players to stop thinking about all they had accomplished last season and start anew in Friday's preseason opener against the Indiana Pacers.
"Your first game, you've got to establish who you are," Thibodeau said after the Bulls defeated the Pacers 95-86. "And so, what our identity is, is not going to be based on what happened last year. We have to re-establish who we are this year. This is the first step."
To that point, let's take a quick look at how each one of Thibodeau's players performed after more than six months off from NBA action:
Derrick Rose: The reigning MVP did not come out of the gate the way he wanted to and he knows it. Rose had 16 points, but he turned the ball over six times.
"I think I had like three or four turnovers, a charge, travel, like some high school turnovers," Rose said. "But I know that comes with being excited. Just being out there, just seeing everything. But I know my game is going to come back to me since I've been working so hard this summer."
Luol Deng: The Bulls' ironman played a team-high 32 minutes and scored 16 points, but he had five turnovers as well. Overall, Deng looked to be in solid shape and picked up right where he left off last year.
Joakim Noah: Noah looked winded at times, but that won't bother Thibodeau as much, given that Noah appears to be 100 percent healthy. He was rusty, but he still had 10 points, eight rebounds.
Carlos Boozer: Not a good start for the power forward who has lots to prove this season. He was just 3-for-10 from the field, but what has to be even more disconcerting is that his defensive rotations were still not up to par. He looks to be in better shape, but there's no question Thibodeau would like to see him run the floor more.
"I did like the way he and Ronnie were playing off each other," Thibodeau said. "I thought his floor game was very good. I thought he had some bunnies that he normally makes that he didn't make. Some good, some bad, we just got to keep building."
For his part, Boozer said he felt fine physically, admitting to some rust like the rest of his teammates.
"I felt great," Boozer said. "No aches, no pains. Felt great. Felt great to be playing."
Ronnie Brewer: Thibodeau decided to go with Brewer after deciding before the game that he didn't want to play newly acquired Rip Hamilton. Brewer played OK at times, but looked frustrated at various points throughout the game.
Taj Gibson: The fourth-year forward clearly improved his game this summer. He scored 12 points and has obviously developed some low-post moves to go with his solid defense.
Gibson learned an important lesson during his hours working in the gym during the lockout.
"I just want to be patient," Gibson said. "Even if it's not going your way, just have patience, push through. Try to rebound, try to play solid defense. And the main thing is to just have confidence. I got more and more confidence as the game went on. And my teammates were finding me."
C.J. Watson: Since Rose got into foul trouble early, Watson was pressed into action sooner than usual. He got hot from the field, scoring 15 points and going 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Thibodeau was pleased Watson got some minutes with the first team.
Kyle Korver: Only took three shots in 26 minutes. The good news for Thibodeau is he appears to be in good shape and appears to be a little more active on defense.
Jimmy Butler: Everyone sung the praises of the rookie after the game. Why not? He was 3-for-3 from the field, had eight points and was also very active on the defensive end.
"You've got to remember, he practices against Luol every day," Boozer said of Butler. "Luol's one of the best three men in the league. If he can compete against him every day, I don't think he's going to be too scared of too many people in the NBA."
Omer Asik: The Turkish center picked up five fouls in 18 minutes. He told Thibodeau he felt good, though.
"He says he's pain free," Thibodeau said. "He's not in great shape yet. And normally he is in great shape. That's who he is. He's a great worker, but he had to stay off the foot for a while. He says physically he feels fine. He just has to get his conditioning up."