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Bulls remain spotless on the road
By Sam Smith | 11.17.14 | 11:54 p.m. CT
The Bulls Monday opened their 15-day road trip with a stirring 105-89 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Bulls put six players in double figure scoring led by Jimmy Butler with 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Taj Gibson starting for the injured Pau Gasol added 20 points and Joakim Noah had 11 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.
It was a dominant second half for the Bulls who after a 12-2 Clippers fourth quarter run to close within eight got tough baskets from Butler and two of Mike Dunleavy’s four three pointers.
It was a difficult assignment for the Bulls to start with Derrick Rose declared out earlier in the day with his hamstring injury and Pau Gasol forced to miss the game with a strained calf from the Indiana game that wasn’t responding to treatment. That left a replay of the 2013-14 season with Joakim Noah back at center and Taj Gibson at power forward. So the defense was good, but the scoring was lacking as the Bulls fell behind 21-18 after one quarter and looked about to get knockout out on a run of Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford scores to fall behind 46-32 with 3:44 left in the first half. But with Noah and Gibson on the boards for second shots and Jimmy Butler harassing, the Bulls closed with a 16-4 run to trail 50-48 at halftime. The Bulls opened up the game to take a 79-64 lead after three on three Kirk Hinrich threes and sweltering defense on fading Clippers.
1. Joakim Noah back at center with Gasol out had Noah back chasing a triple double like last season. Noah’s a more active rebounder than Gasol. Most engaged in game Noah’s been this season.
2. Mike Dunleavy was crucial taking advantage of the matchup with J.J. Redick, whom Clippers try to hide on defense. Clippers going to help opened floor with Dunleavy playing a point forward role. Similarly with late Butler post ups on Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul.
3. Thibodeau with a good defensive adjustment after halftime to have Noah on DeAndre Jordan and save running after Blake Griffin and Taj Gibson playing aggressively on Griffin and pushing him off the block and into tougher shots in crucial 31-14 third quarter.