The Chicago Bulls opened the preseason up with a 92-88 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night at the United Center. Since it’s only preseason, fans shouldn’t read too much into the stat lines. However, lets go beyond the box score to break down the first Bulls basketball in over four months:
The Bulls starters seemed to click from the onset of the game, and made a huge surge in the second half, opening with a 21-4 run out of halftime.
Luol Deng led the team with 18 points, but more encouraging was his 9-for-11 from the charity stripe. Last season, Deng was hesitant to get to the line because of his injured wrist, so seeing large free throw totals early on is an indicator that his wrist could be in better shape than many thought.
Kirk Hinrich looked smooth back in Chicago, and facilitiated the offense well with 7 assists in 24 minutes. Hinrich will be called on to take the reins while Derrick Rose recovers.
Veteran forward Nazr Mohammed looked good in his Bulls debut, chipping in 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Mohammed will need to fill the gap left by Omer Asik’s departure, so his activity out of the gate was encouraging to see.
The Bulls made only one field goal in the entire fourth quarter, with the Grizzlies outscoring the team 21-11. While this was in the hands of Chicago’s second unit, the team relies heavily on the bench in the regular season, so the “Bench Mob 2.0” will need to step up and learn how to play with each other.
Second year swingman Jimmy Butler shot just 1-for-11 from the field. Butler will be expected to carry a heavier load this season, and the team will need his scoring and defense off the bench with the second unit.
The Bulls shot just 14.3% from the three-point line, hitting only 2-of-14 attempts. Newcomers Marco Bellinelli, Nate Robinson and Vladimir Radmanovic will be expected to spread the floor from long distance, and will be a key part of the Bulls offense in the regular season.
The Bulls continue the preseason Friday at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Zach Mink covers the Chicago Bulls for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @zachmink12 for more news and analysis.