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Chicago Bulls 87, Minnesota Timberwolves 80: Ugly Wins as Ugly Plays

November 10th, 2012 at 9:30 PM
By Caleb Nordgren

I really don't have much to say about this game.

'Joakim Noah' photo (c) 2009, Keith Allison - license:

The Chicago Bulls did what they did best, winning ugly with defense. They cobbled together just enough offense to win, and overcame another atrocious shooting night from 40 percent of their starting lineup. (Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich finished a combined 0/9 from the field. Although, in fairness to Hinrich, he only played 11 minutes because of a hip injury.)

Marco Belinelli finally had a game that did not make me want to throw things, scoring 11 points and going 3/5 from downtown. Marquis Teague saw his first action of the season after Hinrich went down, playing six minutes over the third and fourth quarters. He actually did pretty well for himself. His stats aren't overly impressive, but he didn't look lost at all and generally seemed competent.

Here's the Bulls problem in a nutshell right now: Their good players don't play point guard.

In general, the Bulls best four players tend to be Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton. Their fifth best player has been Jimmy Butler most nights. Tonight it was probably Belinelli. Regardless, all six of those players have something in common: they're not point guards.

Hinrich wasn't good tonight, but he wasn't terrible. He was 0/4 from the field, but had 3 assists without recording a turnover. Nate Robinson was really not all that good. He scored 18 points on 8/14 from the field, but recorded just 2 assists and turned the ball over 5 times. If we could somehow merge Hinrich's passing and defense with Nate's scoring ability, we might have something. But since we can't, you just have to hope one of them happens to be playing well on a given night.

But tonight, with Hinrich out, Teague not ready, and Robinson struggling to hang onto the ball for any length of time worth discussing, the Bulls were kind of stuck. Sure, it wasn't an issue against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but look at how things went against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. That fourth quarter was brutal.

Speaking generally, the five players I'd prefer to see out on the court at any given time are Noah, Taj, Deng, Butler and Rip. However, Rip is at his most effective when someone who can actually handle the ball is giving him time to run off screens, and you'll notice that nobody in that group qualifies. I'm intrigued by the thought of giving Noah the ball at the top of the key and letting him run the offense, but I have this feeling that it wouldn't work very well, regardless off how much fun it might be to think about.

Once Derrick Rose comes back, things will get simpler. Four out of five spots in the finishing lineup will be more or less locked in, with the fifth spot depending on which of Rip, Belinelli and Butler happens to be playing well that particular night and on the matchups. Or so I assume, not really having any idea of what goes on in Tom Thibodeau's mind. Guess we'll see what happens, but it's concerning that the most important position on the floor doubles as the Bulls' weakest link.

Huh. Guess I had more to say than I thought.

Player o' the Game: Joakim Noah. 18 points on 7/12 shooting. 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks.

I think the statline does a pretty good job of conveying that Noah played really well. But it's also worth mentioning that he played 38 minutes and was only whistled for one foul, whilst recording those 4 blocks. That's pretty good.

Tags: Carlos Boozer, Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Marquis Teague, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder, Tom Thibodeau

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