Wade pushes Bulls to first preseason win
Preseason basketball is generally meaningless, but the goal is to get ready for the real games and the Bulls are showing some interesting signs.
They scored 64 points in the first half of Saturday's 121-105 victory over Indiana at the United Center, two days after piling up 67 points in the first half against the Pacers on the road.
Maybe a wider variety of opponents is needed before making any real conclusions, but that dream of turning the Bulls into a high-scoring, offensive juggernaut looks slightly more realistic in coach Fred Hoiberg's second season.
"I liked our flow. I thought our push was really good," Hoiberg said. "We wanted to get the ball off the glass and get it up the floor quickly. I was happy to see us get the ball off the rim, throw it ahead, attack, get good deep early post position. It's how we want to play. We want to get that thing up the floor with pace and hopefully have time to make a play."
Dwyane Wade led the Bulls with 22 points and 8 assists in 27 minutes and he went 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Taj Gibson added 20 points on 9-of-9 shooting from the field. Jimmy Butler had 15 points and 5 assists. Indiana kept all-star Paul George out of this one, but otherwise played most of its usual lineup.
Even when he's not scoring at a rapid pace, it's possible Wade's presence will help the Bulls offense function more efficiently. He draws attention and is maybe better than expected at making plays for teammates. In the first half, Wade lofted a perfect alley-oop pass to Butler for a reverse dunk.
"I always pride myself in being a complete basketball player," Wade said. "Obviously, I've been blessed enough to score a lot of points in this league. I've always been a willing passer. I always try to help my team be better. It helps me be better. I know my guys do their job setting screens, so you have to reward them. I think that's a part of my game that hasn't been talked about as much."
Already in three preseason games, the Bulls are showing a willingness to share the ball and it's probably no coincidence they've also found some scoring depth. Every team has stars who can hit 20 points. Many nights, the key is how many guys can add to the scoring total by getting 6 or 8 points.
Nikola Mirotic snapped out of his early-preseason slump by producing 18 points and 9 rebounds on Saturday. He shot 2-for-14 in the first two contests, but went 4-for-7 from 3-point range on Saturday.
Guard Isaiah Canaan had a good night, with 8 points and 4 assists. He somehow managed to record a plus-40 in 16 minutes of action, which means the Bulls outscored the Pacers by 40 points while he was in the game. The Bulls finished the first half on a 22-3 run, using a lineup of Butler, Canaan, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio, with a mix of Wade and Tony Snell.
Hoiberg decided to give Rajon Rondo a night off, so Spencer Dinwiddie, coming off a 19-point performance on Thursday, started at point guard.
Hoiberg gave Portis a turn to start at power forward. He got a quick hook in the first quarter after making a defensive mistake, but ended up logging 18 minutes.
The Bulls will take a day off Sunday for the first time since training camp began. The next game isn't until Friday against Cleveland at the UC.
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