Another in the pattern for Chicago. Hot start, slow middle, Carlos Boozer(notes) gets pulled for defensive purposes, Derrick Rose(notes) is the lone offensive option on a terrible offensive five-man unit, Derrick Rose makes you feel like the first time you ever heard the Beatles, Bulls win.
It was brilliant. Rose was left all alone on a team without a hope of cracking 50 points per 500 possessions in an empty gym, and he just straight took over late in the third quarter. The Bulls outscored Detroit by 18 points in the period, Rose had enough floaters and fun things to sustain the work in the fourth quarter, and the Pistons scored just 27 points in a miserable second half.
Twenty-nine points on 20 shots, seven assists and five rebounds for Rose. Carlos Boozer came through with 27 and 11 (he's averaging 20 and 10 in just 32 minutes per game on the season), and Luol Deng(notes) worked his way to a tough 17-point, eight-rebound, four-assist, three-steal game. Three steals for Ronnie Brewer(notes), as well, in a great defensive effort.
Yes, Boozer was pulled again for his defense, with the Bulls choosing to go with Kurt Thomas(notes) and Taj Gibson(notes) up front for a long second half stretch, and Gibson's D and Thomas' coverage made a huge difference for the Bulls. Big difference. Boozer continues to show well at times, defensively, but he also gives up on plays when the perimeter defenders are beat off the dribble. The guy just doesn't help. Thank goodness for that offense of his.
Detroit tried, and they've had Chicago's number for long stretches this year, but they were outclassed once the Bulls started moving their feet.
Grizzlies fans might think otherwise, but I really don't think Memphis flat out gave up on this game. I don't think they played down to the level of the atmosphere, one that saw maybe 1500 fans show up in the midst of a Charlotte snowstorm. The Grizz just didn't have it. Just a frustrating night, for everyone. I think I even saw Rudy Gay(notes) slap the floor in frustration, in the middle of a defensive possession.
And Charlotte worked at it. Not the greatest offensive team, but the Bobcats made it work with ball movement and transition play off of all those Memphis misses. As the box score will tell you, Stephen Jackson(notes) (27 points) always seemed to be the guy who ended up with the open shot, as the Bobcats put together a 24-assist night. Only those 18 turnovers kept the team from a white hot (Charlotte finished with just 105 points per 100 possessions) showing.
Memphis was out of this just a few minutes in. I'm not too worried about this team because I liked their pre-game talking heading in, and the squad was clearly frustrated with itself in a way you didn't see in losses like this from years' prior.
Boston is taking a lot of rightful stick for their terrible defense in this loss, but we should give the Rockets some credit. Every pass was on point, in the road win. Every curl off a screen was performed expertly; the team concentrated on its shots, and it was one Kevin Martin(notes) appearance away from a 15-point win. Luis Scola(notes) even had his lunch handed to him by Glen Davis'(notes) defense, and the Rockets still continually kept the defending Eastern Conference champs at bay. Houston earned this win in impressive fashion.
Boston also stunk, defensively. 124 points per 100 possessions allowed to a team missing Yao Ming(notes) and a player in Martin who is often the most efficient perimeter player in the NBA. Forty-one points and 13 assists combined for the starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry(notes) and Aaron Brooks(notes) (taking just 24 shots between them), as youngsters Patrick Patterson(notes) and Chase Budinger(notes) combined for 23 points in 37 minutes off the bench. It was great to see.
The Celtics, as you've no doubt been told by now, have fallen behind the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. Two and a half months in, and the Heat have gotten their act together. And while Kevin Garnett(notes) is due back pretty soon and Kendrick Perkins(notes) isn't far away, this is something to worry about.