The Bulls blew a sizable lead and looked lost on offense in the fourth quarter for the second straight game. Derrick Rose bailed them out against the Knicks with a memorable floater, but the Bulls just couldn’t put it together tonight. Rose finished with eight turnovers, including seven in the second half. The fourth quarter particularly was one to forget for Derrick, as he was handily outplayed by rookie phenom Michael Carter-Williams.
Speaking of Michael Carter-Williams, he looked awesome. The concerns about his jump shot are legitimate, but he did a great job knocking down open jumpers down the stretch. His passing is every bit as good as advertised, especially for a rookie. On defense, MCW annoyed Rose all night and forced some key mistakes down the stretch. It looks the 76ers got the steal of the draft–and let’s not forget Nerlens Noel will likely be on their bench all year.
Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson each had some great stretches tonight, but both played horribly in the fourth quarter. Taj, starting at the end of the third, got blown by on defense multiple times and went 1/4 from the field after a perfect first half. Boozer had a solid stretch to start the half but was absent when the Bulls needed him badly.
The 76ers are definitely better than everyone expected. They still aren’t a playoff team, but Brett Brown seems like a real keeper at head coach. MCW has the makings of a great point guard and Thaddeus Young is enjoying experimenting with a three point shot (he hit three tonight), something Doug Collins forbid him from doing.
Luol Deng played well for most of the game but his jump shot really missed the mark a lot late. For some reason, the Bulls drew up all their three point plays late for him. Mike Dunleavy is clearly still acclimating to Thibs’ system, but it’s a little concerning how few three point shooters the Bulls’ rotation has.
Joakim Noah had a decent game. He’s still having trouble finishing at the rim but he was much more aggressive tonight then he has been. The jumper made a reappearance tonight as well. Spencer Hawes really killed Noah and the rest of the Bulls’ bigs with his spacing on the perimeter.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to Derrick Rose. He still looks really rusty. Outside of draining an open three with a little over two minutes to play, Rose was a disaster in the second half. He couldn’t find the mark on his jumpers but his drives are what really killed the Bulls. All too often it felt like Rose was driving into traffic hoping to get a whistle. Unfortunately, he didn’t get any late but instead picked up several turnovers. As he continues to work out the kinks in his game, the Bulls offense will slowly begin looking like the machine we were all expecting. For now, the Bulls are “day to day”, as Thibs likes to say.