On guards: Bulls Watson, Lucas, James are the men at the point now

April 30, 2012|RedEye

18-9

That's the oft-uttered record Bulls fans are clinging to as Game 2 vs. Philadelphia looms.

The Bulls fared well with Derrick Rose out for 27 games during the regular season, thanks in large part to backup point guards C.J. Watson, John Lucas III and, to a lesser extent, Mike James filling the void.

Now, things are much different with Rose out for the remainder of the postseason with a torn ACL. The stakes are higher. The competition's tougher. The margin of error much smaller.

Replacing Rose and his 22 points and eight assists likely will take a combination of his three replacements—and then some—but Kyle Korver said that's just the way it should be.

"If anything, we have to play more as a team," said Korver, who sat out Monday's practice at the Berto Center with minor injuries of his own. "We're used to Derrick taking big shots at the end of the game, but if we're going to win this, it will be because we played the best team basketball."

Coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't isn't worried about who will step into Rose's crunch-time role either.

"If you study the season, it's obvious. Luol (Deng) has hit big shots. C.J. (Watson) has hit big shots. Carlos (Boozer) has hit big shots. John Lucas has hit big shots," he said. "The thing that I like about our team is we have a team of winners."

But it all starts at the point.

Here's a closer look at the Bulls charged with running the offense. CHICAGO TRIBUNE CONTRIBUTED.

C.J. Watson

REGULAR SEASON: Watson averaged almost 10 points and four assists as the backup—and sometimes starter—for Rose.

NOW: Watson will be the starter in place of Rose, which will greatly increase his workload. Rose played 38 to 40 minutes a game. Watson just 23.

COACHSPEAK: "He doesn't have to change how he plays at all," Thibodeau said. "He knows exactly how we have to play to win. From that standpoint, it's not different at all. When C.J. has started, the team performed extremely well. It's impossible to make up for Derrick's individual greatness but our collective greatness can cover that up."

John Lucas III

REGULAR SEASON: Lucas started two games when Rose and Watson were both out with injuries, and he averaged 7.5 points and 2.2 assists in his 49 appearances this season.

NOW: He'll be the backup to Watson.

COACHSPEAK: "He's been terrific all year, and it doesn't surprise me," Thibodeau told RedEye last week. "I always felt confident that if we had an injury or had to plug him in that he would play well and have the team play well."

Mike James

REGULAR SEASON: James was used sparingly, but the four times James logged 17 or more minutes, he averaged 10.8 points and 6.3 assists.

NOW: He essentially becomes the Lucas of the rotation, picking up minutes when the other two are in foul trouble or just to give the team a different look.

COACHSPEAK: "That's the thing about our team," Thibodeau said Sunday. "At different times, we've used everybody."

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