CHICAGO, IL— The home opener was a long-awaited chance for Bulls’ fans to finally see their new-look team up close and personal in a game that actually mattered.
The festivities included seeing countless fans throughout the United Center dressed up in Halloween costumes (most-notably, the Teletubbies in the front row). New Bulls’ Team Ambassador, Scottie Pippen, received a standing ovation from the fans as he waved down and smiled from the sky box. And the complete 12-player introductions for the Bulls – plus, an appearance from Carlos Boozer – promising the Chicago faithful an excellent season.
In their first-of-41 home games, The Bulls exited the gates looking vulnerable.
Taj Gibson started the game off by abusing the Piston’s defense with a spinning hook shot through traffic. But he soon picked up two early personal fouls, which led to him playing only 18 minutes over the entire game. The Bulls weren’t in rhythm offensively through the first quarter with their reserves on the floor. Detroit looked to capitalize on Chicago’s lack-of-scoring woes by calling upon, former Bull, Ben Gordon for some fireworks off-the-bench. Gordon had a field day – scoring 19 points in the second quarter alone. Detroit outscored Chicago 39-23 in the period.
The Bulls’ defense started to pull it together in the third quarter – much like it did in the season opener in Oklahoma City. Chicago held Detroit to 19 points, which included a contested three pointer from Charlie Villanueva as the period expired. The Bulls only managed to shave off 4 points from a 19-point halftime deficit.
But Derrick Rose and the Bulls came out ready to play in the fourth quarter. Rose, who almost had a quiet 31 points up to that point, checked in the game with 7:28 left. With the Bulls down 86-78, he led the comeback with two key assists – leading to a Taj Gibson lay-up and a James Johnson corner pocket three-ball.
James Johnson had a monstrous fourth quarter. He had his fingerprints all over this game – causing deflections for 2 steals and blocking 3 shots. He pulled down 8 of his 9 total rebounds, and earned 2 of his 4 assists, in the final period of play. And he only had one turnover to speak of…
He played like a man who did not want to lose today.
Chicago finished on top, 101-91, after an abysmal first half. The team defense held the Pistons to 28 points in the entire second half after giving up 63 in the first. They outscored Detroit 34-9 in the final quarter. Ben Gordon, who had previously scorched them, was held to 0-of-5 shooting in the second half.
The Bulls now possess the NBA’s leaders in points-per-game (Derrick Rose, 33.5) and rebounds-per-game (Joakim Noah, 18.0). Though this may be temporary, it is a welcomed sign that things may be started to head in the right direction for this club before the Trailblazers visit them on Monday.
Derrick Rose matched his career high of 39 points, which he set against the Boston Celtics at the end of last season.