As alluded to above, Bell was ejected in the first quarter of last night's game after saying something to a referee following a questionable foul call. In retrospect, though, the Bulls are exactly the kind of team against whom it's okay to play the double point guard lineup. It would've been nice to have a true defensive stopper to get in Ben Gordon's shirt, but Raymond Felton did an adequate job, considering that Gordon compiled 8 of his points at the line, and Gordon isn't big enough to fully take advantage of someone Felton's size. Two small guards can cover two small guards.
The Augustin-Rose matchup, though, carried the most intrigue. In their NCAA Tournament game last year, Rose was the star of a Memphis rout, and Augustin struggled, only shooting 4-18 from the field. In this game, though, with Emeka Okafor lurking behind him, Augustin proved to be the nightmare opponent for Rose. Until he develops a twenty foot jumper, Rose will have to rely on his otherworldly first step to score and create. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, the only guys able to deal with that first step are elite crunch time defenders like Kobe, guys with some quickness and a ton of length like Tayshaun and LeBron, and then there are the two small guards who can simply match him speed for speed, Allen Iverson and DJ Augustin.
Rose is the more complete player because he's a much better defender, but Augustin is uniquely suited to attack him. Rose will do better stopping him in the future, but it's certainly possible he'll develop the game to take advantage of DJ's lack of size the ways everyone else does, by posting him up, Gary Payton style, or shooting over him. There should be no doubt anymore that Augustin possesses the tools to be an excellent offensive player, perhaps the best offensive guard of his draft class, but his complete inability to guard jump shooters, thanks to his size, will be his fatal flaw throughout his career.
Several other observations from a thoroughly satisfying game:
-- Emeka Okafor had 20 points, 13 rebounds, 4 huge blocks, and 3 steals(!). Hey, whaddya know? He's right back near his career per minute averages, and he's also going hard to the rim, where in the past he would have tried to gently drop the ball through the hoop.
-- Andres Nocioni really, really, really sucked. He didn't do much on defense, he had no post game. He didn't really rebound. He was basically a slow three who couldn't create his own shot, shoot especially well, or defend. Basically, he was Boris Diaw without Diaw's exceptional attributes. Good times.
-- It's not an exact parallel, but the Bulls are almost sorta kinda a bizarro version of the Bobcats, in a taxonomic sense. Augustin/Rose go together. Felton/Gordon go together. Carroll/Hughes go together. I guess Gerald is a mishmash of Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas. Ryan Hollins is Joakim Noah with a few more rebounds.
-- I don't think I'll ever get over the Diaw/Bell acquisitions. That said, adding Juwan Howard is relieving in a way that only fans of bottom-dwelling teams can appreciate. When Howard's on the floor, it means Ajinca and May are out. The professionalism spikes. Ajinca belongs in the D-League, and May belongs at the end of the rotation.
I'm so glad I get to use a clean-shaven picture again.