I think it’s time for the Bulls to look into making some hygiene improvements at their facilities. Thursday night, the Bulls visited the New York Knicks at the Garden playing without Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotić, and Denzel Valentine who were all out with the flu. This meant the Bulls had to look to their bench for some help in the absence of some of their more productive players.
Starting in place for Jimmy Butler was 22 year-old rookie from Germany Paul Zipser. This was a very interesting choice from coach Hoiberg knowing Zipser had only played 10 games this season and is only averaging 5.7 minutes per game coupled with 0.3 points per game. He also had a tough test on the defensive end in this game trying to keep up with perennial All-Star and prolific scorer Carmelo Anthony. Overall I thought Zipser played better than expected. He came out confident early and seemed excited to finally start in an NBA game. The young rookie played 34 minutes, a game high, and ended with 7 points and 5 rebounds. I expect, with more playing time, Zipser can develop into an asset for the Bulls bench very, very soon. He’s an athletic three guard with a pretty good jump shot and has the potential to develop a consistent three-point shot. His bread and butter though is his ability to drive through the lane and finish at the rim. With more consistency and improvement on the defensive end he can make a real difference for this team as the season progresses on.
Dwyane Wade was the only source of consistent offense in the game with Jimmy Butler sidelined. D-wade started off slow but came back after halftime and played relatively well in the second half, leading the Bulls in scoring with 22 points on 9/20 shooting. Wade had the highlight of the game midway through the fourth quarter when he sliced through the lane and destroyed the rim with an emphatic tomahawk dunk. Father time has struck again.
The Bulls continued to receive great production off the bench from Jerian Grant and Cristiano Felicio. Grant commanded the offense and continued to show great range, finishing with 14 points and shooting 2/4 from beyond the arc. Felicio continued to be a big force in the middle. He was very active on the glass and on the defensive end. He finished with 13 points and 5 boards. If there’s anything positive that has come from the Bulls latest lineup changes, it’s the continued development of these two players. At 24 years old, both of these young players are showing that they can give the Bulls energy and production off the bench on a nightly basis.
Changing gears, this was the second game of the year the Bulls faced former teammates Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks. They both came to play in this contest. Derrick Rose was aggressive throughout the game and played very well on the offensive end, finishing the game with 17 points. He, dare I say, looked like a shell of his former self, driving aggressively through the lane and finishing with acrobatic lay-ups. Noah was huge for his team on the defensive end, finishing with a double-double of 12 points and 15 boards. He finally seems to be getting into the groove and playing like the tenacious player the league is used to. The Bulls will see the Knicks again at the Garden on April 4th.
Overall, the Bulls played well despite being shorthanded. The same problems persisted–lack of cohesion on defense and a stagnant offense at times. The highlight of this game was the great play from some of the younger guys on the roster as they continue to develop as the season goes along. The team is now 19-21 on the season. The Bulls play next on Saturday at the United Center against Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. Stay tuned to Intern Sports for more Bulls coverage.