Drew Gooden's return to the lineup has definitely improved the team, and it's all thanks to that magnificent beard.
The Bulls are slowly getting healthier. Drew Gooden played his second game since returning from a sprained right ankle, and the Bulls won their second straight game with Gooden back on the block. After posting a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back earlier this week against Sacramento, Gooden dropped in another 16 points and grabbed 11 boards in 38 minutes to help the Bulls get past the lowly Washington Wizards.
Ben Gordon led the Bulls with 22 points, but it was thanks to the play of Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Larry Hughes, and the defense of Thabo Sefolosha that the Bulls were able to overcome a bad night by rookie Derrick Rose. Rose made only three of his 12 shots on the night and finished with only eight points -- the third lowest point total of his young career -- but did manage to hand out nine assists.
Tyrus Thomas posted a double-double of his own, with 16 points and 10 rebounds to go with two steals and two blocks, while Joakim Noah only had six points but did bring down seven rebounds coming off the bench. Larry Hughes had a high-scoring night -- though he only played 21 minutes so who knows how he feels about it -- with 17 points, but as is usually the case with Hughes, just because he's putting points on the board it doesn't necessarliy mean he's helping matters. Every Bull on the roster who saw playing time on Friday night finished with a positive +/- (a stat used to show the point differential when a player is on the court, more commonly seen in hockey), all of them except Hughes who had a -5 in spite of the 17 points he dropped in.
Thabo Sefolosha played a big role as well, even though his line in the box score won't show it. Starting in place of the still injured Luol Deng -- who the team had been expecting to return to action tonight -- Thabo locked down Washington's Caron Butler on the defensive end. Butler played 40 minutes for Washington but only managed to score two points on 1-of-8 shooting and didn't get to the free throw line once.
The Bulls should have another easy time tomorrow night when they welcome the 5-31 Oklahoma City Thunder -- formerly the Seattle Supersonics in case you haven't been paying attention -- to the United Center.