BULLet Points: Bulls take care of business in Philly

  • The most exciting part of Monday’s Bulls-76ers matchup was the mystery surrounding who would start in Chicago’s frontcourt. Joakim Noah was announced alongside Pau Gasol, but an apparent tweak to his surgically-repaired left knee had Niko Mirotic on the floor at tip-off. The Bulls managed against a winless 76ers team, winning 111-88.
  • The first half was full of runs by both teams. After a 12-11 start by Philadelphia, Tony Snell checked in and the Bulls went on a huge run. It was fairly predictable, given the on/off court splits of Snell and Doug McDermott thus far:

  • The Sixers fought back to start the second quarter, though, and it took a late Chicago run to notch a 52-43 halftime lead. At one point in the half, Derrick Rose scored on three straight possessions, craftily converting around the basket. He finished with 12 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in 28 minutes, a very solid performance.
  • The Bulls maintained a healthy lead throughout the third quarter and Philly never threatened again. Niko Mirotic caught fire in the second half and tallied 20 points and ten rebounds overall. It was an encouraging night after three straight duds from the young power forward. Most importantly, Mirotic found his groove once again from distance, knocking down three of seven. It remains to be seen if Fred Hoiberg inserts Joakim Noah into the starting lineup when he’s available again.
  • Jimmy Butler had a quiet scoring night with just seven points, and none after halftime. He still contributed across the board, though, adding six rebounds, five assists and a team high +29 in only 26 minutes.
  • Doug McDermott continues to shoot lights out. He knocked down seven of 15 shots for 18 points in 28 minutes in his third straight start. While McBuckets has actually been worthy of his nickname this season, he is still completely lost on the defensive end. Even today, the Bulls only outscored Philadelphia by five points in his minutes; the other four starters were between +14 and +29, with Tony Snell at +18 off the bench.
  • Pau Gasol had a very nice game, posting 16 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. He had his way with rookie Jahlil Okafor for most of the night on both ends. Still, there were plenty of possessions where Gasol was a statue under the basket. His defense has nearly completely eroded outside of one-on-one matchups; the Bulls need to figure out what to do with the future Hall of Famer.
  • Bobby Portis saw his first (scant) rotation minutes of the season with Noah out. He failed to make much of an impact and was yanked amidst a fervent 76ers run in the second quarter.
  • The 76ers are easily the least talented team in the league, but they play admirably hard under third-year coach Brett Brown. The ball is constantly moving on offense, which is pretty impressive given the dearth of NBA-level guards on the roster. Defensively, I thought they did a good job with their positioning to slow down the Bulls. With only nine players available–Nerlens Noel sat out with a wrist injury–they just ran out of gas.
  • Jahlil Okafor had an impressive stat-line with 21 points and 15 rebounds in 31 minutes, but I thought it was fairly empty production. He needed 25 attempts to get there and doesn’t quite have a grasp of good shot selection yet. It’s understandable given Philly’s roster, but Okafor was often overmatched by the Bulls’ underwhelming defense. Still, he also showed some amazingly mature touch and post moves around the basket. I’m confident he’ll be a good shooter eventually too.
  • Coming up: the Bulls get to take most of the week off as they don’t play again until Friday, when they’ll take on Charlotte at the UC. They’ll hope to avenge last week’s embarrassing blowout loss.
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