The Miami Heat who are currently on the heels of the Bulls in the Eastern Conference were defeated at home against the Washington Wizards tonight. This gives the Chicago Bulls slightly more breathing room. The Bulls defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 93-83, and are now 2 1/2 games up in the East. Now, all the Chicago Bulls have to do is win one more game to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Derrick Rose returned tonight against the Mavericks. Rose did not rush his shots and let the game come to him. Despite being out for 20+ games, the Mavericks were still concerned about him being on the floor, drawing all their attention to him. This allowed Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to free up space for a high percentage shot. Derrick finished the game with just 11 points and 8 assists. He shot 5 for 9 from the field. Hopefully, he’s healthy enough to finish out the regular season against the feisty Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers next week.
Richard “Rip” Hamilton was very productive tonight. Rip has also just returned from a shoulder injury. He has missed 30+ games this season, but now he’s showing that his legs are fresh and ready for the post season. Rip is known for being very active running off of screens and sprinting back and forth on the baseline. When he’s executing that well, it makes defending him very difficult. Tonight, Rip had 19 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in 28 minutes of playing time. Coach Tom Thibodeau is gradually giving Hamilton more minutes. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 22 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds. Luol struggled early on, but found his rhythm late in the 2nd half.
Carlos Boozer had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. But, Joakim Noah had the most efficient night. Noah finished the game with 8 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists. Almost a triple-double for the passionate center. Joakim was able to control the boards and hustle aggressively, giving his teammates more chances to score against the Dallas Mavericks. The Bulls, overall, shot 45.2% from the field. They were also 66.7% from the free throw line. Joakim Noah was the only Bulls player to go to the line multiple times. A great sign for the Bulls is that they had 29 assists and only 10 turnovers. There was much better ball movement between the players and sure, crisp passes executed. Also, the Bulls had 32 points in the paint and 15 fastbreak points.
Chicago’s next game is on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers, which means they have a little time to practice and heal from nagging injuries. The Bulls record, overall, is 48-16.