In only his third game as a member of the team, D.J. Augustine got an extended opportunity to show his ability albeit in another disappointing loss for the Bulls on Monday to the Orlando Magic.
Augustin still struggled with his shot, finishing 5-for-15 from the field and just 2-for-7 from 3. But in 37 minutes of action, he displayed his ability to run the offense (eight assists) and get to his spots on offense, scoring 14 points.
“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.”
The point guard wasn’t expecting the increased playing time, but you could see his comfort level begin to rise on the floor as his penetration and play off pick and rolls created several opportunities for his teammates in helping them rally back from a 17-point deficit in the second half.
“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,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “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.”
Despite the loss, his teammates were impressed and pleased by his play. It will be interesting to see if Thibodeau continues to start Marquise Teague if Kirk Hinrich remains out to rest his sore back, or elect to start Augustin to help the team get into a better rhythm to begin the game. Teague went scoreless and without an assist in 11 minutes of action on Monday.
Joakim Noah acknowledged that the spacing has been terrible and that hasn't been helped by Teague as defenses continually dare him to shoot and help off of him as he is reluctant to do so. Augustin is more of a threat on the perimeter with his shooting and has shown he's quicker at reading and reacting.
“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.”
Losers of 11 of their last 14 games, the Bulls (9-14) are in need of any semblance of something positive and Augustin’s play on Monday will hopefully start to help some of the issues the team has been struggling with for the past three weeks.