The Chicago Bulls made their regular season debut on Wednesday, sneaking past the Sacramento Kings 93-87. Let’s go behind the box score to see what went right and what went wrong in the season opener:
Joakim Noah had a phenomenal game for Chicago, finishing with a game-high 23 points, 1o rebounds, five steals and three blocks. Noah did most of his offensive damage at the charity stripe, hitting 11-of-12. With Derrick Rose out, the Bulls offense will come from unexpected places, and Noah could be one player that steps up big while the MVP recovers.
As Bulls commentator Stacey King would say, the Bulls brought their hard hats and lunch pails to Wednesday’s game. This was a gritty performance, one of many that Chicago fans will likely see throughout the season. The Bulls will win games with pure heart and scrappiness, and the victory over Sacramento was a good example of what’s to come. Chicago still should finish in the upper half of the Eastern Conference, but it won’t be pretty.
Carlos Boozer was productive in the win, chipping in 18 points and eight rebounds. While Boozer hasn’t been the player that many fans have expected, the team will need him this season more than ever to be an offensive force consistently. Wednesday’s performance was a good start, and hopefully Boozer will be able to shoulder the load more often this season.
Although the Bulls gritted out the win, this was still the Kings, one of the worst teams in the league. Even with Rose out, this should have probably been an easier game than it ended up being.
Luol Deng had a rough start to the 2012-13 season, shooting just 3-of-13 for seven points. While he did chip in 12 boards, he was hounded all night by Tyreke Evans, who led the Kings with 21 points. I don’t think that this performance had anything to do with his wrist injury, and Deng should bounce back in the team’s next game.
Kirk Hinrich didn’t look good in his first regular season game back in Chicago. The veteran guard hit only one shot, and couldn’t get in a rhythm during the game. The Bulls will need him to facilitate the offense as well as score throughout the season, and will need a better performance out of Hinrich when the better teams come to town.
Chicago heads to Cleveland to square off with the 1-0 Cavaliers on Friday. The Bulls have won seven straight contests against the Cavs, all coming after LeBron James‘ departure after the 2009-10 season.
Zach Mink covers the Chicago Bulls for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @zachmink12 for more news and analysis.