With the Chicago Bulls fresh off their road trip, hosting the San Antonio Spurs was an early season test.
The Bulls (10-5) played with effort and determination and just got by the dangerous San Antonio Spurs, 92-89. The Spurs (14-4), make you play well. Because if you don’t there is the chance you might get blown out. The Bulls won this game in a team effort with an excellent performance from Pau Gasol who had 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks. One, coming on F LaMarcus Aldridge’s shot with just 1:06 to go. Gasol made one of two free-throws to put Chicago up 90-89, and it held on for the victory.
The Bulls defense was strong as they held the Spurs to just 41.1% and 2-14 from three point land. Usually the Spurs hit much better from long-distance but G Jimmy Butler did a very good job of defending Kawhi Leonard, one of the most dangerous shooters in the league. He finished with 25 points and had 8 rebounds, but did not bring his patented trey shot tonight. Aldridge had a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Gasol’s late block was a key play with the Spurs right in the game, but Aldridge’s shot was denied.
Chicago’s Butler scored 14 points in just under 40 minutes of action. The Bulls had five players score in double-figures. Doug McDermott had 12 coming off the bench. He made several nice long-range shots. Derrick Rose was off (5-17) but scored 11 points and had 6 assists. Joakim Noah had perhaps his best game of the season as he scored 8 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had 7 assists in 23:06, off the bench. Chicago shot 43% of the game, and hit 37.5% from long-distance. The Bulls played without Aaron Brooks, and Kirk Hinrich thus relying heavily upon Butler.
The Bulls showed tough defense late in the contest. They held the Spurs to 16 points in the 4th quarter when it was anybody’s game. They showed they wanted this one by out-rebounding the Spurs and coming up with 25 assists. Noah looked like the Noah of old out there, making all sorts of plays and keeping his team in the mix.
This was an early season test for Chicago. You have to beat the Spurs as they really beat themselves, and the Bulls did that at the United Center.