By Nick Shepkowski-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) We saw how without Jay Cutler the Bears went from being a prime contender in their conference to being amongst the worst teams in the entire NFL.
Luckily for the Bulls they were able to pick up their tenth win of the season despite not being able to play with the leagues reigning MVP as Derrick Rose sat out the 78-64 win with a toe injury.
Filling in for Rose?
None other than John Lucas III.
You’re not going to find Lucas’ Wednesday night ranked with LeBron James or Kobe Bryant in terms of efficiency but in filling in for Rose on top of already filling in for C.J. Watson, Lucas did enough to help land the Bulls their tenth win in a dozen tries this young season.
Lucas’ final line looks like something out of a video game that’s set on its most difficult level as he finished 11 of 28 from the field, but the 25 points he was able to put up, coupled with eight rebounds and eight assists, played a huge factor in Wednesday’s outcome.
“He’s not going to leave any bullets in the gun,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I give him credit, he stayed ready.”
Lucas totaled 45:38 of court time against the Wizards and that didn’t come as a real surprise after word came out that Derrick Rose wasn’t going to be able to go. With Watson already out with an elbow injury, the Bulls were left with literally no other point guards on their roster besides Lucas and veteran Mike James, who they signed from Erie’s NBDL team earlier in the day.
Even after winning on each of the last three evenings, the Bulls’ task at hand gets no easier with a trip to Boston looming on Friday.
“Its going to be a tough game. We’re going to start over and get ready for that game, prepare like we always do,” Lucas said.
With the Bulls win they became just the second team in the NBA to go 3-0 when having to play games on three consecutive days, joining Oklahoma City who completed the task on Sunday.
The Bulls and Lucas were able to overcome shortcomings from others offensively to pick up the win.
Despite playing very well defensively most of the evening, Luol Deng had a tough evening on offense as he shot just 5-of-21 from the field but his 15 total rebounds helped make up for his low shooting percentage.
Deng wasn’t the Bulls only big who struggled on offense as he, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combined to shoot just 9-of-33 on the night for 20 total points while combining for eight turnovers and six personal fouls.
Is there reason for concern with Noah and Boozer going forward?
“We need those guys. Carlos and Joakim are a huge part of this team. On a lot of nights they carry us,” said Thibodeau.
Even if it seemingly shrinks more and more every day, “The Bench Mob” still had solid performances from Omer Asik (14 rebounds, 5 blocked shots in 27:48 minutes), Kyle Korver (5-for-10 for 14 points) and Taj Gibson (nine points, six rebounds and two blocked shots).
As for Rose, he’s listed as day-to-day but was wearing a walking boot on Wednesday night at the United Center. Even if he says he’s ready to go Friday in Boston, it wouldn’t hurt to air on the side of caution and keep him sidelined until the injury subsides.
Wednesday might be the least memorable game that Bulls fans look back on this season, but anytime a team is stuck without its MVP candidate, shoots just 36 percent from the floor, scores just 33 second half points and walks out with a victory, it’s a good night.
Even if it was tough to watch.