Bobcats majority owner, Michael Jordan, found no buyers in time to suit up and make a comeback in Tuesday night’s game against the Bulls at the United Center. As if it would ever happen, the fan speculation had little or no impact on the game. The Bulls lost twice to Charlotte, headed into this matchup against a team who just completed a 20 point win against the world champion Los Angeles Lakers team on Monday.
In two games, the Bobcats held Derrick Rose to his 2nd lowest assist split of the season, of 5.5 dishes a game. The Bobcats backcourt of S.J. Augustin, Stephen Jackson, backup Shaun Livingston, and perennial defensive player of the year candidate Gerald Wallace were able to effectively put Rose in a trap situation, exposing the teams weaknesses at any point the Bulls were able to gain momentum. The Golden State Warriors also copied a similar trap style just 10 days ago, raising new questions on how the Bulls will adjust and overcome similar play going forward. In one game versus the San Antonio Spurs (Who the Bulls face on Thursday) Rose finished with only 4 assists.
The first quarter began with both teams shooting above 50% from the field. Kurt Thomas, playing in his 1000th NBA game, made 3 quick jumpers(all of his 6 points came in the 1st quarter) to help the Bulls take advantage of Charlotte mistakes. The Bobcats turned the ball over 3 more times than the Bulls to make the biggest difference the score with the Bulls up by 7. 29-22
After running an 11 point lead, the Bobcats looked to Shaun Livingston to continue his streak of energy and turn the tables to the Bobcats favor. After a few adjustments, the Luol Deng found some rhythm to spread the Bulls out better on offense. Kyle Korver chipped in 7 points in the period with the Bulls leading 52 to 45 at the half.
Derrick Rose was playing frustrated as the Bobcats managed to reinstate the half-court traps on him. He went from attempting to split defenders with little success, to a minor adjustment that allowed the Bulls to bring Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer into the paint. In efforts to prevent the double team from forming, Rose also kicked it into gear, only to find himself outrunning the basket. Rose finished the half with 4 turnovers and 4 misses at the basket. Once he managed to trust his screens and slow down his drives, Derrick fell back into touch on the offensive end. Rose finished with 18 points 13 assists and 3 rebounds.
The Bobcats stayed with a taller lineup to go against the Bulls starters in the 3rd. After Charlotte tied the game, the Bulls forced the Bobcats into foul trouble to regain the pace and close out the 3rd with a 78-73 lead. Luol Deng contributed 10 of his 24pts in the quarter.
Gerald Wallace gained his second wind in the 4th, anchoring the Bobcats chances to come back in this game. However, the Bulls managed to match Charlotte for the rest of the night, along with 8 key points from Kyle Korver(15pts, 3-3 from 3) to give the Bulls the edge in this contest. The Bulls win 106-94 to improve to a 37-16 record for the season.
Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer and Keith Bogans also contributed to a solid display tonight.
The Bulls stay at home to play San Antonio on Thursday, before the All-Star break.