It was a nervy win for the Chicago Bulls on Sunday over the Orlando Magic.
After being up by double digits for most of the game, Chicago had to withstand a late rally by Orlando. But the Bulls held on for the 92-87 victory to move to 3-1 on the season.
It was a good victory for Chicago as Derrick Rose showed that he can be a facilitator in this offense. He had a game-high eight assists for Chicago. Rose used his speed to get into the lane and either kicked it out or dumped off to Chicago's big men. Pau Gasol also had another solid game as he had 16 points to lead Chicago in scoring.
Nikola Mirotic also continued his hot start for Chicago and will look to continue that against Charlotte, who are in the bottom of the league right now in opponent three-point percentage (37.5%). Mirotic will get some looks against this defense. But he will be facing off against Nicolas Batum, a lanky player who can score and give Mirotic some problems on defense.
But look for Doug McDermott, who scored 12 against the Magic, to get some good chances as well, considering Charlotte's three-point defense. McDermott showed on Sunday that he can be more of a pure scorer than a catch-and-shoot guy, but his role is still yet to be defined.
Chicago will also have to deal with the big offensive threat of Al Jefferson. Jefferson is still one of the best players in the NBA with his back to the basket and will give Chicago problems on the inside. Given that Pau Gasol and Mirotic are not the best defenders, expect Fred Hoiberg to use a lot more of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to counter the presence of Jefferson.
It will be a good guard matchup as Rose takes on Kemba Walker. Rose played well against Elfrid Payton and the Orlando guards. But Walker is a better offensive player than the guards Rose has faced so far. It will be a defensive test for Rose as he is still battling that orbital injury he suffered during training camp. He hasn't been as effective shooting the ball, but if he can start to distribute more and play better defense, it can make up for it.
It will be another road game for Chicago as they are 1-1 on the road so far with a win against Brooklyn and a loss against Detroit.
Game Notes :
Kirk Hinrich missed yesterday's game with a sore toe and will likely be out again.
The Bulls announced on Friday that they picked up options on Doug McDermott and Tony Snell.
The Hornets announced today that they have signed Jeremy Lamb to a contract extension.