On a disappointing Monday night for the Bulls, point guard D.J. Augustin was a bright spot.
The team’s newest acquisition scored 11 points and dished out seven assists in the Bulls’ 83-82 loss to the Magic at the United Center. Beyond his solid numbers, the sixth-year veteran’s playmaking ability, talent for operating in pick-and-roll scenarios and overall quickness stood out as aspects of his game that can help the Bulls.
While it’s only his third game in a Bulls uniform and he doesn’t have a full command of the team’s offense, Augustin has made a quick adjustment, which prompted Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau to play him 28 minutes in the defeat — it would have been more had he not got into foul trouble — not to mention starting the third quarter and finishing the contest.
“I’m feeling more comfortable, the more games I play. I’m learning the plays. I think I know them pretty well now,” Augustin said. “It’s the third game, so I think I know the plays pretty well now. The more games we play, the more practices we have, I think I’ll get pretty familiar with them.
“I missed a lot of open shots that I wish I’d have made and I felt like I should have made, but that happens sometimes and I just tried to play defense and do other things to help the team out,” the New Orleans native and former All America at the University of Texas went on to say. “Just go out there and try to give a spark. Whenever Coach puts me in, just try to bring a spark and play hard, do whatever it takes to help the team win.
“I didn’t expect (the playing time), but you never know. I’m not complaining. We went out there, we fought hard, and it was a tough loss for us tonight.”
Thibodeau explained that he liked what he saw out the diminutive floor general, who shot 4-for-12 from the field but is known as credible outside-shooting threat.
“I wanted to make sure he was comfortable enough with what we were doing out there, and he showed me that in the first half. I actually was thinking about it this morning, but I wasn’t sure he had enough of an understanding of what we were doing and I didn’t want him to (be) tentative and so, I thought he was much more aggressive tonight. I like the effort that he put in defensively. I think there are things that he can do better, but I thought he put in great effort and that’s what’s important,” the coach said. “I thought he created a lot of great opportunities for us. Now, we didn’t convert, but I thought he got us into a pretty good rhythm. I think he’s a very good pick-and-roll player, I think he has a good pace to his game. I think it’s going to be good.”
Augustin’s new teammates appreciate what he’s brought to the table, too.
“D.J. played great, and he got us in the offense. It’s hard for him, he doesn’t know all the plays. But he did a good job,” Luol Deng said. “This is the NBA. It’s not that easy to play that many minutes with a new team. I thought he did a great job.”
Joakim Noah was pleased with Augustin’s performance but also made mention of second-year point guard Marquis Teague, who got the start in place of the injured Kirk Hinrich but only played seven minutes on the evening, going scoreless in that time.
“I think (Augustin) doing a lot of great things out there. Marquis has got to keep grinding, keep going,” Noah said. “I think D.J. is getting in the swing of things, learning the plays, learning the defensive system, and I think he’s doing a good job.”