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« Coming & Going: Cubs Third Basemen It's Derby Time: Windy City Rollers Begin 2012 Season »

Bulls Tue Feb 07 2012

As The Bulls Turn: "Bulls MAD! BULLS SMASH!"

After dropping 3 of 5 (Indy, Miami and Philadelphia) and eking one out against the Knicks, the Bulls have morphed into a Red Hulk-esque "SMASH!" run through the soft, gooey portion of their season's longest road trip. Following the too-close-for-comfort win at Madison Square Garden --which was too close, largely, by the way, because of Carlos Boozer's "defense" on Amare Stoudemire-- the Bulls have been on a warpath. Why? Precisely it has to deal with the return of Luol Deng and the Bulls encountering two not-so-good teams in a row. The Bucks, who did give the Bulls a few fits two Fridays ago, had no answer for Luol Deng (and his absurdly prescribed 41+ minutes of game time, thanks Thibs) on Saturday night.

Now, make no mistake, the Bucks aren't a great, good, or even an "OK" team right now. They're without their star center Andrew Bogut --who, when active, has been a force and really bumped the Bucks up a notch on both ends; and have an aging, journeyman, center, Gooden, Drew, starting. Additionally, their roster is not deep and, well, can't keep up with the Bulls roster. Still, Brandon Jennings (Mr. Mercurial!, FTW) struggled all night against Derrick, and, well, Milwaukee's guards had a bad night all over the place, too. Still, there was Deng, covering the poor rotations of Boozer, again, "Cough. Amare's best friend. Cough." from a few nights earlier in NYC. Deng's magnificent, mismanaged, minutes were what are sorely missed from this Bulls team.

Deng's range, his ability on offense, to open defenses up with his menacing jumper and 3-point accuracy. The "explosivio" he still packs on drives to the rim? This arsenal complements what Derrick Rose did last season and what Rose and Rip Hamilton are doing so effectively this season. When the trio is healthy, the Bulls offense is a flourishing, devastating ecosystem of crisp ball-movement, easy baskets, and confused defenders.

Defensively, Luol Deng does so much to make the Bulls look even better. The linchpin of the Bulls defense is Deng, he's the keystone species. Like the mirthfully focussed sea otter devouring a sea urchin that would otherwise be destroying a kelp beds root structure, there's Deng harrying the opposition, while at the same time cleaning up Carlos Boozer's perpetual messes. Speaking of the delightfully python-like Bulls defense, Noah had a vaguely more "Noah-like" game last night against the Nets than he's had in weeks. Which, hopefully for you, the Bulls fan, has you feeling giddy at the prospect of Noah, Deng, Rose, Rip (when healthy) and Boozer as the starting five.

Anything Else?

Well, sorta. Thibodeau is still seemingly hell-bent on his "minutes, minutes, minutes," crusade for his best players. Saturday in Milwaukee, Thibs had Deng running for 44 minutes in a sheer blowout. Again, I alluded to this a few weeks ago, but the question still is unanswered, what's Thibodeau trying to prove? The back spasms that kept Rose out of the majority of the New Jersey game, are nothing serious, still, Thibodeau would be well-served to let his role players get some serious run against New Orleans and Charlotte, with Chicago still having plenty of money in the bank and with the likelihood of Indiana keeping pace (no pun intended) in the division all season.

 
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