By David Schuster-
(CBS) It was only the first game, but what an impressive curtain raiser it was for the Bulls as they topped the Knicks, 104-80, at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday evening.
Most of the ingredients that this team possesses were on display as the Bulls overcame an early six-point deficit and uncorked a 25-10 run in the second quarter. Remember the team from last season that barely averaged 90 points per contest and often couldn’t hit the ocean from the boat? Well, that team is long gone, replaced by a much deeper and talented roster.
Six players scored in double figures, led by Taj Gibson’s 22 points. And what an idiot Shaquille O’Neal made of himself by saying that Pao Gasol is “finished.” We should all be so “finished’ and capable of scoring 21 points while pulling down 11 rebounds. Shaq, you’re a funny commentator, if not a good one.
Also impressive in their Bulls debuts were Aaron Brooks and Doug McDermott, who finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively. And even Nikola Mirotic saw some quality minutes (15 of them) and showed you why eventually he will be a real weapon as a true stretch four forward, knocking down a long 3-pointer and scoring five points.
I haven’t forgotten Derrick Rose, who scored 13 points to go along with five assists and most notably got to the free-throw line with eight attempts.
Maybe the most impressive person was the man who I’ve said would be the most important all season, and that’s coach Tom Thibodeau. The always intense Thibodeau showed he’s perhaps learning what a deep roster means by playing 12 different players. The blowout certainly helped with that, but before it got out of hand, Thibodeau used 10 players (and Jimmy Butler sat out with a left thumb injury). Hopefully, Thibodeau will realize that he often has more assets than the foe and will use them on a consistent basis.
It was just one game against a lousy Knicks team, but it was still a pretty good harbinger of what you should see all season long from the Bulls.
David Schuster is a reporter, update anchor and weekend host for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @Schumouse.