Joakim Noah backed up his talk in a Bulls loss on Monday.
Photo Courtesy of HoopsHype.com
It was quite a different atmosphere in the Quicken Loans Arena on Monday the 19th for game 2 of the series as opposed to game 1 on Saturday the 17th. The crowd was more hostile, however so were the Bulls. It was quite a role reversal from the Bulls that showed up to game 2 than to game 1, they seemed to bring confidence and an attitude with them which is what kept them in the game.
The Bulls battled the entire game, keeping pace with the Cavaliers all throughout the first half and entered the half only down by 2; 50-52. The Bulls battled for the lead much of the 3rd quarter and found themselves tied at 77-77 entering into the 4th and final quarter. Tie game, one quarter left and it came down to these; outside shots and Lebron James. In the 4th quarter the Cavaliers drained 4-4 from behind the arc, the Bulls only connected on 1-4 much like the entire game the Bulls are lacking a true sharpshooter from the outside- especially with Kirk Hinrich's 2-8 shooting performance.
However, in the end it was just too much Lebron James for the Bulls, or maybe any team, to compete with. The Bulls may have been one or two possessions away from tieing the series up at 1-1 but Lebron made sure his team travels to Chicago leading 2-0.
It was Lebron's night, everyone else was just invited to spectate.
Nothing against the Bulls, they did everything they were supposed to do to win; win the rebounding battle, limit the turnovers and score points against one of the best defenses in the NBA. The Bulls are down, but not out. Hopefully this performance gives them confidence to battle their way back into the series when it heads to Chicago in the United Center.
It was refreshing to see 3 Bulls' with 20+ points in game 2; Loul Deng (20), Rose (23) and Noah with a playoff high 25 points and 13 rebounds. If the Bulls want to stay in this series they need consistency from those three players- Noah backed up his talking by owning the inside and hustling in 41 minutes of play, Deng looked more comfortable and more aggressive with driving to the basket and finishing strong but I would have like to see more of Derrick Rose in the 4th quarter.
The Bulls don't have a Lebon-potential -esque player, no one has the potential to 'go off', really. Derrick Rose is electrifying but when no one else is hitting from the outside, the Bulls offense turns into the Derrick Rose Show and its no secret that the only chance of the Bulls scoring is through their young point guard. He needs help, help that may not come till the free agency period begins.
Defensively the Bulls are doing a great job. Loul did his best on Lebron and you can truly see his effort is relentless, Rose did a good job of limiting Mo Williams outside shots and the Bulls big men did a good job of putting Shaq in foul trouble early. Maybe the Bulls can consider matching Hinrich on Lebron, leaving Loul to guard Antwan Jamison instead of rookie Taj Gibson. Hinrich's scrappy play could potentially frustrate Lebron and leaving others in favorable match ups will lead to turnovers and much needed breaks for the Bulls.
Expectations weren't too high for these young Bulls coming in and matching up against the heavily-championship-favored Cavaliers, however they are gaining a swagger much like Derrick Rose urged them too- Hard playing, gritty and grinding out every last possession till the whistle blows.
Lets hope this mentality can bring them back into the series to show the NBA what they are really capable of.