Luol Deng addressed the crowd of 22,763 fans at the United Center before Sunday night’s home-opener by thanking them and promising good things are to come this season.
The Bulls backed-up Deng’s words as they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in a 104-64 statement game. Zach Randolph went down early with a knee injury when teammate O.J. Mayo landed on him, and Memphis had no chance after that point.
Deng put the clamps on Memphis small forward Rudy Gay defensively – holding Gay to 2-for-12 field goal shooting.
Ronnie Brewer turned defense into offense himself with his great activity. He was constantly running for long rebounds thus sparking Chicago’s transition game. He finished with two steals and seven rebounds to go along with 17 points and five assists.
Brewer has surprised with his great offense in the young season. His mid-range jump-shot has been very consistent and has gone 4-for-4 from three-point range over his first five games.
The down-side of the victory was an elbow injury to C.J. Watson when he stuck out his arm to break a fall early in the fourth quarter. X-rays were inconclusive and the team is waiting on the results of an M.R.I. to see the extent of possible hyper-extension damage.
John Lucas, III, stepped up in his absence and wow-ed fans with three quick baskets. It is still likely that the Bulls will look to sign a veteran point guard to cover for the back-up point guard role if Watson is going to miss significant time.
Bulls’ first-round draft pick Jimmy Butler also made his NBA debut with six minutes remaining in the game and added a field goal and two rebounds.
The U.C. crowd’s constant “SCAL-A-BRI-NE” chants were rewarded as “the man… the myth… the legend” came in and delivered a nice touch-pass assist to Omer Asik for a jam.
It was a statement game for Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls defensively as they look ahead to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.