A point guard sets the tempo of the game and can create a shot for his teammates or himself. A leader on the court. When the Bulls pushed the ball down the floor quickly, outscoring Phoenix 13-11 in transition on Tuesday, it was because of their point guard play. The Bigs follow and the guards are why. Bulls Fam sit and think, Derrick Rose. They would be right, but I am talking about all of the guards on the Bulls roster. Rose, CJ Watson, John Lucas III and Richard “Rip” Hamilton.
Rose has sat out the last two games with a sprained toe/turf toe. CJ Watson suited up for the third time this season. An elbow injury sidelined him for nine games. The Bulls were coming off their worst loss of the season, 102-86, in Memphis in which they played without Rose and Rip. Watson, starting in place of Rose, scored 15 points in the first half without missing a shot. He finished with 23 points on an eight-of-12 shooting and dished out five assists in his 33 minute performance. Not bad for his third game of the season.
Watson did great filling in for Rose. I’d like to say he has a “D-Rose Flow” when he is on the court. He ran the offense, drained big shots, drove aggressively in the paint when needed and got his teammates good looks. His fellow Bulls have nothing but praise, because when they need him, he comes through.
“CJ’s been a great player his whole career. He’s always played behind guys that were very good. It’s tough playing behind the MVP this year… He leads our Bench Mob when we’ve got a full roster. He’s a very good pro to say the least.” – Bulls forward Carlos Boozer on CJ Watson
Despite the last two games, John Lucas III has been a breath of fresh air for the Bulls. Standing at 5-feet-11, there is nothing short about his game.
“He (Coach Thibodeau) can put me in at the three, I got their back, because I just love being out there on the court. I love the game of basketball. I love to win. I can’t stand losing; I hate it with a passion.” – John Lucas III on playing time
When Rose, Watson and Rip were down and out with injuries, Coach Thibs put Lucas to the test with his first NBA start at the point in the Bulls’ 78-64 win versus the Washington Wizards on Jan 11. Lucas almost posted a triple-double, scoring a career-high 25 points, grabbing eight rebounds and handing out eight assists in 45 minutes. Before the Wizards game, which will now be known as the John Lucas III game, Coach Thibs was asked who would be backing up Lucas. His response, “Lucas.”
Never mind going 11-for-28 (39%) on the floor, it was his first start and it opened up a lot of opportunities for the Bulls’ Bigs. They out-rebounded the Wizards that night 62-46.
Let’s get to know Bulls newcomer Richard “Rip” Hamilton. Former Piston. Former champion. Hungry athlete. Tuesday night, against the Suns, he returned to the lineup for the first time since January 4, when the Bulls visit and beat his former team, the Pistons. On Tuesday, he posted 11 points and six assists in 21 minutes of play.
As a fan of the Bulls, I’ve spent many years cheering against Rip, and for good reason. He plays great defense, he is a consistent shooter and he leads the floor on offense. Now, years later, he is still the same Rip, just in Bulls uniform.
At 33 years, Rip still possesses the same speed and athletic ability he did when he first entered the league. He runs, the defense follows and he finds an open teammate. That is what happened in the first quarter of the Bulls-Suns game. Five of his six assists came in that quarter.
“I just try to get out there and run, using my speed and endurance for easy plays. That’s the best thing about us. We’re all unselfish. If you get up and run, guys will find you.” – Richard “Rip” Hamilton on his play/speed
When Rip was first acquired he said:
“The only thing I lost was that trophy at 26, and now it’s time to try and get that thing back.”
He’s fitting into Coach Thibs’ game plan alright, especially since he is a defensive-minded player. It’s almost a match made in Basketball Heaven, along with MVP Rose. Taking the pressure off of Rose has been the goal all summer and guys like Rip, Watson and Lucas can definitely help out in that department.