Chicago Bulls: Utah Jazz
How it happened: Marvin Williams led the Jazz with 17 points, while rookie Trey Burke added 14 points and six rebounds. Carlos Boozer had 26 points for the Bulls and Luol Deng chipped in 24, but it wasn't enough, as they missed too much offense with Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose out.
What it means: In a season full of low points, Monday marked the lowest one of all for the Bulls. They officially lost Rose for the season because of another knee injury, then lost to an atrocious Jazz team that came into the contest with a 1-14 record. The issue for the Bulls remains the same as it ever was without Rose on the floor: They don't have enough playmakers to score. There just aren’t enough guys who can create their own shots, and that was ultimately the difference in this game against Utah.
Hits: Making the first start of his career, Tony Snell scored nine points for the Bulls.
Misses: Mike Dunleavy was just 1-for-8 from the field.
Stat of the night: The Bulls and Jazz have now played five overtime games in their series history; the Jazz have won all five, according to Bulls radio statistician Jeff Mangurten.
What's next: The Bulls head to Michigan to face off against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls cruised to a 97-73 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night at the United Center.
How it happened: Luol Deng had a big night, scoring 19 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 9 assists, as the Bulls rolled to a much-needed win over a bad team. Carlos Boozer added 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Joakim Noah chipped in with 14 points and 8 rebounds.
What it means: The Bulls didn't play very well, even in victory. They were careless with the ball and sloppy in their sets, especially in the first half. Coach Tom Thibodeau talked before the game about how he wanted his team to focus on improvement in execution; the Bulls have a long way to go. The offense still looks stagnant at times and players appear to be unsure of where they need to be on the floor. Obviously, the Bulls are just five games into the season and still have plenty of time to grow, but Thibodeau can't be happy with the way his team played in this game.
Hits: The Bulls outscored the Jazz 56-22 in the paint.
Misses: Jimmy Butler is still trying to find a rhythm offensively. He scored five points and took just five shots.
Stat of the night: The Bulls had 16 turnovers in the first half -- 20 for the game.
What's next: The Bulls face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at the United Center.
The Bulls have won just once in four tries this season, dropping all three of their road contests and recording their lone victory against the New York Knicks on a Derrick Rose floater in the closing seconds that registered high on the degree-of-difficulty scale.
Nobody on the Bulls would say this is exactly the opponent the team needs at the current juncture, but it’s obvious that when your defense is in disarray, it’s nice to get a matchup against a team that is second to last in the NBA in scoring, as the Jazz is with its 90.0 points per game.
In Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan drained his infamous 17-footer to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead over the Jazz with 5.2 second remaining. That shot proved to be the game-winner, sealing Chicago's sixth and last NBA title.
CHICAGO -- Kyle Korver had to laugh at the irony of it all.
On Thursday night, he sat slumped in a chair in front of his locker trying to figure out how he had just missed five wide-open 3-pointers (six in total) in the fourth quarter of a Chicago loss.
On Saturday night, Korver sat in the same chair in the same locker with a big smile on his face. This time around he was trying to figure out how the Bulls have remained so consistent this season despite the fact they have lost almost everyone on their roster at some point during the year due to various injuries.
Even in a season riddled by injuries, the Bulls were especially short-handed on Saturday. And it didn’t really seem to matter.
How have the Bulls been able to overcome these obstacles time and time again?
"We answer this question time and time again," Korver said. "It's like guys are hurt every night. We've had a lot of guys go down. Jo got sick. It's just one of those seasons. Last year, I don't think we really dealt with that many injuries. This year I think we're making up for it."
How it happened: Playing without Luol Deng (wrist), Joakim Noah (flu), Rip Hamilton (shoulder) and C.J. Watson (ankle), the Bulls had no problem driving right past the Jazz. Carlos Boozer had 27 points to lead the way for a Bulls team that was still upset with the way it performed in Thursday night's loss to the Orlando Magic. Kyle Korver made up for his poor performance during the Magic game, by going 10-for-16 from the field, scoring 26 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out six assists. Derrick Rose added 24 points and 13 assists.
What it means: The Bulls did what they needed to do -- proving once again why they are probably the deepest team in the league. Even without three starters, the Bulls were able to push the tempo and get seemingly whatever they needed on offense. They shot 56 percent from the field and had 31 assists on the night. The better sign for Tom Thibodeau's team is that Carlos Boozer is playing extremely well on the offensive end over the past couple games and Korver found his stroke again for one night. In the short term, the Bulls can play with, and beat, almost any team in the league because they are so confident they can find ways to win no matter who goes down.
Stat of the night: The Jazz outscored the Bulls 62-42 in the paint ... and still lost.
Bold play of the game: Korver's shooting performance. He felt awful about the way he played on Thursday, but he reiterated his mindset after that game -- "Shooters shoot." Korver was on target most of the night and showed it by knocking down six three pointers -- the same amount he missed in the fourth quarter against the Magic.
What's next: The Bulls hope to make it two wins in a row Monday night against the New York Knicks.
Rose's performance comes on the night the Bulls are honoring the 20th anniversary of their first NBA championship. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and many of their former teammates are sitting in Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf's suite taking in Rose's performance.
Rose, who had 18 points during the third quarter on Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks, has now scored 41 points in his last three quarters of play.
SALT LAKE CITY -- Derrick Rose has too much pride and is too humble to say, on the record, what he really thought of Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum's comments about his defense, or lack thereof, in the Bulls' loss Monday.
The fact that Batum later backtracked and said he was misquoted is almost beside the point. Rose heard the comments, watched the tape of LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Miller torching him and his teammates during Monday's loss, and was bound and determined to change things. Like most elite players in the league, nothing motivates Rose more than someone saying he can't do something or that he's not good enough. The 22-year-old point guard heard the words that supposedly came out of Batum's mouth and that was all he needed. Like pretty much everything else regarding the Bulls these days, Rose knew he had to set the type of defensive tone that his teammates would follow, and there was no better place to turn over a new leaf than in Utah against All-Star point guard Deron Williams.
"Coach always says it starts with me," Rose said after the Bulls 91-86 win over the Jazz. "The way that I play the ball, the way I be aggressive, every single thing kind of comes down to how I play. I was just trying to play aggressive ... everybody was playing great tonight. I think everybody was playing with a lot of confidence."
No one was playing with more confidence than Rose.
On a night that was supposed to have centered around Carlos Boozer's return to Utah, Rose once again stole the show. He dropped 29 points on the Jazz and held Williams, a point guard many experts feel is still a better all-around player than Rose, to just 11 points.
"To be 22 and do what he did on offense," Boozer marveled. "He carried us on offense again. And then at the same time, he did a great job defensively on D. Will. D. Will hit some shots but he had to work for every shot that he hit. And that steal he got from the end was a huge steal for us, that sealed the game."
In the Bulls' minds, the steal Rose made on Williams was the play of the game. Williams got the ball and was headed up the floor with just over a minute left and the Bulls clinging to a one-point lead. Seemingly out of nowhere, Rose came racing up the floor from behind and popped the ball away from his counterpart. The entire sequence exemplified the type of all-around night that Rose delivered.
"Huge," Thibodeau said of the play. "That was a great hustle play. That's what we needed. That basically wins the game and then Ronnie [Brewer] made a big steal too. Offensively we struggled all night ... I thought our defense was a lot better tonight."
That was the single biggest key all night long for the Bulls. After playing poor defense over the past two games, they seemed to get back to the basics that Thibodeau continually preaches. They hustled up and down the floor and didn't allow the Jazz to get many clean looks at the basket. Aside from Rose, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson and Brewer came off the bench and gave the Bulls quality minutes on the defensive end.
Thibodeau knows his team can do better, but he will take what he can get right now.
"Even though we allowed a high percentage [47 percent], too high," Thibodeau said. "But I thought there were stretches where we played a lot better. We're still not playing well defensively but I thought we did what we had to at the end of the game to come up with the win."
If the Bulls are going to become the team that everyone in their locker room thinks they can be, they have to continue to play with the same fire they showed down the stretch of Wednesday night's game, the passion on the defensive end that is the difference between the good teams and the great ones.
"The thing that I did like was that I thought the mental toughness at the end [was there]" Thibodeau said. "To do what we had to do to come up with the win. To come up with some loose balls, to hustle, when you do that you give yourself a chance."
The Bulls had a chance all night because of their renewed focus on the defense end ... and because of the fact that their All-Star point guard answered the bell one more time.
"Phenomenal man," Boozer said of Rose's performance. "I told him after the game he's a bad, I can't say the other word I said. He's a bad man. Humble, aggressive, made shot after shot, tough shots. Made defensive play after defensive play. He was a man tonight."
How it happened: Derrick Rose had 29 points to lead the Bulls as they snapped their two-game losing skid in front of a loud crowd in Utah. Carlos Boozer only had 14 points in his first game against his old team, but he got the last laugh as the Bulls made several crucial plays down the stretch. Boozer's former Utah teammates Kyle Korver also played major roles late. Korver drilled a clutch 3-pointer down the stretch and Ronnie Brewer sewed up the game with a steal off an errant Deron Williams pass.
What it means: The tone of this game was set on the defensive end for the Bulls. Rose knew he didn't play his best defensively in Monday night's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, and he wanted to make up for it. He did that by holding Williams to just 11 points. The Bulls may not have played their best game of the year, but they did what good teams do: They found a way to win on the road in an emotionally-charged environment. This is a good confidence booster for them and a good preview of the types of things they may see once the playoffs hit in a few months.
Stat of the night: The Bulls did not have an offensive rebound in the first half.
What's next: The Bulls have two days off before facing off against the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night, which marks the end of their five-game road trip. Given the emotional high that they will be on after a win like this, it's a good bet that they will have a little extra energy heading into Saturday's showdown with Chris Paul and company.
"It's a fun challenge," Rose said before the Bulls' Wednesday morning shootaround. "Their offense is very hard. They've been running it for numerous years, and they're very used to it. And he's the one that gets everybody going. So just making sure that he's under control, I think we should have a good chance to win this game."
While the pair's game's may not look the same, there is one part of Williams' game that Rose enjoys.
"He plays physical throughout the whole game," he said recently. "If anything, that's what I'm learning to do."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is impressed by Rose's physical play.
"He just improved on what he had," Sloan said. "He's a terrific, explosive guy. He's so strong, and it looks to me like he's gotten stronger. I never thought he lacked of strength to begin with, but [it] looks like he's worked tremendously hard to make himself good and that doesn't come by accident."
Sloan knows that Rose's improved range around the perimeter has made him even more dangerous.
"All that puts a lot of pressure on you trying to guard him," Sloan said. "Because he's very good in blowing by people and putting a lot of pressure on your defense because he can pick and roll and he just makes plays, simple plays. He makes them look simple."
While both players have the ability to take over games, Rose doesn't want to get caught up in a one-on-one rivalry with Williams on Wednesday.
"We're just trying to win, man. Where we lost two in a row, we're just trying to get these wins together. Get to playing good basketball again, where I think our defense has been slipping a little bit. We're going to get back playing good and get our confidence back."
Let's take a look a few of the most anticipated games on the 2010-11 schedule which was released on Tuesday:
Nov. 5 at Boston Celtics: Everyone remembers the great Bulls-Celtics playoff series in 2009, but this Boston team is much more dangerous, and even older with the additions of Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal. Rose and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo are widely considered to be the top two point guards in the East, so there is certainly plenty of star power to go around in this game.
Nov. 13 vs. Washington Wizards: Former Bull Kirk Hinrich makes his return to the United Center and figures to be warmly received by the home fans. This also marks Rose's first game against John Wall, a rivalry that is expected to get much bigger over time.
Nov. 23 at Los Angeles Lakers: After playing the Lakers last season in Los Angeles, Bulls center Joakim Noah said it felt like his was a JV team playing against the varsity. After all the moves the organization made over the summer, it's doubtful he will feel quite the same way this time around.
Dec. 25 at New York Knicks: Christmas day at Madison Square Garden. It's a dream scenario for Noah, who was born in the city. And it should also serve as a national showcase for Rose, who should be able to carve up the Knicks' frail defense once again.
Jan. 15 vs. Miami Heat: Every Bulls player, and fan, already has this game circled on their calendar. It's the first time LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will play at the United Center. The boo birds will be out in full force for this one as fans let James, Wade and Bosh have it for not choosing to come to the Bulls.
Feb. 9: at Utah Jazz: The Bulls should feel right at home playing in Salt Lake City considering they have almost a quarter of the Jazz's roster from last season in Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver.
March 6 at Miami: The Bulls only trip to Miami comes at the end of a tough four game road trip which includes stops in Washington, Atlanta and Orlando.
See the entire schedule.
Kyle Korver joked during his introductory news conference that the Chicago Bulls were actually trying to become the Chicago Jazz, considering he and Carlos Boozer had already signed with the team and they were trying to recruit their former teammate, Ronnie Brewer.
Now Korver's joke is a reality.
The Bulls agreed to a three-year, $12.5 million deal with Brewer on Friday, and the 25-year-old is expected to become the starting two guard once the regular season rolls around.
After the Orlando Magic announced on Friday morning that they matched the Bulls’ offer sheet to restricted free agent J.J. Redick, going after Brewer was the next best option for Bulls GM Gar Forman. While he is not the type of long distance shooter that Redick is, he will provide his new team with a solid defensive presence and should be able to thrive playing alongside Derrick Rose. Brewer averaged just nine points and three rebounds last season with the Jazz and Grizzlies, but averaged 13.7 points during the 2008-09 campaign.
Brewer's addition was the move Forman had to make, and he had to make it quickly. After failing to land LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and then failing to snag Raja Bell and Redick, there weren't many other options at the shooting guard position. Brewer is young enough to fit in with the rest of the Bulls’ core, and his deal leaves the organization enough flexibility so that when James, Wade, Bosh and other prospective stars become free agents once again down the line, the Bulls will have enough money underneath the cap to go after them one more time. It's clear that Forman and his staff are leaving themselves enough space to do just that. They signed both Korver and Brewer to three-year deals, and it should be noted that the third year of Brewer's deal isn't guaranteed.
The Bulls have more salary cap space to go after whomever they choose on the market. They still need a backup point guard and are certainly exploring various trade scenarios in that regard. They could also sign veterans such as Brad Miller and Matt Barnes, who would provide leadership to a locker room full of younger players.
Even with Brewer's signing, they have enough room under the cap to make an aggressive offer to any player, without having to work out any kind of sign and trade scenario to make it work. That gives them a significant upper hand as we head down the final stretch in one of the most interesting free agency periods in NBA history.