BULLet Points: Bulls blanked by Timberwolves in overtime

It had been a very tight game all evening, so the fact that the Bulls and Timberwolves went into overtime on Saturday was not an especially big surprise. The Bulls somehow managed to spoil every scoring opportunity in overtime and did not score a single point for the first time in team history, leaving the game for Minnesota to win, 102-93. I have a feeling that as the season progresses, this Bulls team is going to be frustrating to watch. While Thursday’s win against the Thunder showed how good they can be at times, the horrible performance at the end of this game showed how bad it can get.

  • Only one of the Chicago starting five had a positive plus minus. Nikola Mirotic managed a +5, but he only scored four points and pulled down three rebounds, so it wasn’t as if he was contributing greatly in any capacity. He was in foul trouble early and his shot looked off all night; an airball three point attempt in overtime was the icing on a bad cake.
  • Jimmy Butler felt like a non-factor in this game. He led the team in minutes but scored just 11 points and had five turnovers. He was also a brutal 0/7 in three point attempts. Butler did not score his first points of the game until the 2:44 mark of the second quarter.
  • There were several times on offense when the Bulls were so spread out that they did not have anyone at the post or near the paint at all. They were fanned out around the three point arc, and then tried to rely on Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler to drive into the lane and score, which caused a lack of offensive rebounding opportunities. Given that the Bulls shot just 35.5%, they badly needed those chances at second shots. Four times they took the ball down to their side of the court and set up a drive into the lane, only to miss that first shot and leave the ball for the Timberwolves to take. Minnesota won the rebound battle 58-50 overall.
  • Defensively, the Bulls looked flat-footed and lackadaisical at times. There were plenty of possessions when the Bulls were all positioned soundly, but the Timberwolves beat them in transitions frequently and this seemed to prevent the Bulls from being able to properly set up on defense. The Bulls need to improve their transition defense.
  • I am still not sure what you do with Joakim Noah. He has never been much of a scorer, but right now he is averaging just over two points per game, and given that as recently as the 2013-14 season he was averaging a career high of 12.6, the dropoff in offense in him has been pretty dramatic. At least he can still rebound pretty well–he had 11 total and half of the team’s offensive rebounds.
  • Minnesota is a fun team to watch. They are loaded with young talent like Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Ricky Rubio, but they also have a few old-timers, like Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Garnett.
  • Wiggins was about as dynamic on offense as you can be, and even though he missed an opportunity to win the game for Minnesota at the very end of the fourth quarter, his stretch of three pointers in the first half was a catalyst for the Timberwolves. He ended up shooting four for five from beyond the arc, compared to three of 11 for the rest of the team.
  • If not for some early foul trouble, Karl-Anthony Towns – last spring’s first overall pick – would probably have been able to contribute even further. Even with limited time in the first half, he managed a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. He also added four impressive blocks.
  • From here, the Bulls will look to improve to 5-3 in Philadelphia on Monday night against the winless 76ers.
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