BULLet Points: Pacers dominate Bulls to end circus trip

  • The Bulls got off to a quick start, but Indiana adjusted fast and took control of the game, ultimately winning 104-92. The Bulls never really made it that interesting.
  • Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose each had forgettable nights, with Rose in particular continuing to struggle badly. He was 4/16 from the field for 10 points with six rebounds and five assists. He’s now shooting 36.3% this season and 21.4% from long range. Rose has converted only 44.7% within three feet and 30% from 3-10 feet out. Hopefully a lot of issues are coming from the mask and vision problems, but this version of Rose is not a starting point guard in the NBA. The Bulls need a turnaround fast.
  • Butler finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five dimes but he struggled to make an impact for long stretches of the game. Paul George–back and better than ever–mostly had his way against Butler, finishing with 33 points and eight boards. After the game, Jimmy acknowledged that he’s playing through a lower leg injury of unknown severity. It’s extremely discouraging that the Bulls are apparently mishandling injuries once again, seeing as Butler is currently third in the NBA in minutes per game. #Pray4Jimmy
  • Pau Gasol could not handle Indiana’s new smallball identity. The Pacers started CJ Miles and Paul George at the forward spots and operate with tons of floor space due to the amount of shooting around the perimeter. Gasol was constantly too slow to hit his rotations and overwhelmed offensively, finishing 4/16 from the field. His offensive effectiveness is dwindling while the NBA’s move toward small lineups and flexibility makes Gasol even more of a liability some nights. The Bulls need to bring him off the bench, where he can regain some efficiency by taking on reserve bigs in the post.

  • Niko Mirotic was the best player for Chicago and his potential is really magnified against teams that like to play small. With Paul George guarding Butler, CJ Miles was forced to match up with Mirotic. Niko constantly kept Miles off guard with his unique blend of quick shots, pump fakes, and goofy drives that somehow often end in free throws. Mirotic has had major struggles with his shot and consistency this season, but the Bulls can only be their best when his skills are emphasized. Hoiberg needs to be more aggressive about keeping Niko on the floor when other teams try to win by going small. He finished with 25 points and seven boards in 29 minutes and a plus/minus of -4. The Bulls were -8 in the 19 minutes he sat.
  • Kirk Hinrich continued to play pretty well, adding 11 points and two assists off the bench in 22 minutes. The Bulls were +4 in his minutes and sadly may be a better team with him at point guard over Rose at the moment.
  • CJ Miles went nuts in the first half with 16 points but was shut down afterward. He’s had a nice stretch playing next to George in Indiana’s small system. Lavoy Allen added 12 and 10 off the bench as the Bulls bigs were simply too slow to keep up with his activity. None of the Chicago frontcourt is playing good defense right now.
  • Indiana may have stumbled onto something pretty solid with their new identity. They’ve won 10 of 12 and Paul George looks every bit as good, if not better, as he did in 2013-14. Much ado was made about George being hesitant to bang with big men as a power forward, but Indiana has smartly used him as both a wing and a big. He’s too good of a perimeter defender to abandon that ability, as the Bulls saw firsthand with George guarding Jimmy.
  • Coming up: the Bulls return home to take on the surging San Antonio Spurs.
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