The Chicago Bulls came out strong and lead comfortably for the majority of the game, ousting the Minnesota Timberwolves 92-81 for the second time this preseason. Let’s go behind the box score to see what worked and what didn’t as the team starts inching towards the regular season:
The Bulls got a productive game out of Carlos Boozer, who finished with a game-high 24 points, while also chipping in nine rebounds and four steals. The veterans +/- was +18, and the forward also facilitated the offense with four assists. Many speculated that Boozer would be the player to step up offensively in Derrick Rose‘s absence, and tonight was a good example of Chicago running the ball through him.
Taj Gibson was a monster on the boards and defensively, finishing with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks. Gibson’s defensive prowess is one of the team’s best assets, and will be relied on even more without Omer Asik. Gibson is a prime candidate for a breakout season, and should finish towards the top of the league in blocks per game with an uptick in minutes from 2011.
Chicago played to its strengths against Minnesota, pounding the glass and scraping for the victory. Coach Tom Thibodeau knows how to get his players to buy in and give 110 percent, and despite being a preseason game the team hustled, dove for loose balls and did the dirty work needed to win in the regular season.
Marco Belinelli continues to struggle since joining the Bulls. The new addition finished with zero points on 0-for-5 shooting in 18 minutes off the bench, and has not been able to get into a rhythm with his new squad.
Not really necessarily bad, but I hope that Thibodeau gives more than 15 minutes to spark plug Nate Robinson once the regular season starts. Robinson brings a completely new dynamic to the team, and also distributes the ball much better than advertised. I think Robinson can be a huge asset to the team, its just a matter of how much Thibs is willing to play him. Obviously he isn’t the typical Bulls prototype player, but the offense is absolutely explosive with him out there.
Joakim Noah had a rough offensive game, finishing 0-of-6 from the field. While he pulled down 12 rebounds and played good defense, his offense was talked up in the off-season after working with legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It’s not a huge concern, however, as the Bulls likely won’t be relying on the big man for much offense come the regular season.
The Bulls continue the preseason against the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday at the United Center.
Zach Mink covers the Chicago Bulls for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @zachmink12 for more news and analysis.