The Bulls (25-19), sticking to their season-long trend, followed up an impressive double-digit win over the Cavs on Saturday night with a disheartening, ugly loss to the formerly-skidding Heat (24-21). The Heat snapped a four-game losing streak, while the Bulls dropped their seventh game in their last 10. Let’s take a look at how things went down at the UC Monday night.
- Derrick Rose is the story of this game. Rose looked good early on, attacking the paint and getting to the rim at will. His finishing wasn’t there but Bulls fans saw that aggression that made him an MVP oh so long ago. Unfortunately, his night came to an early end after Rose injured his lower back and the same right hamstring that has plagued him of late. The injury seemingly occurred on one of his drives midway through the 2nd quarter. Rose would leave the game and not return. He ended up with only four points in 13 minutes of play, and his hamstring issue going forward adds injury to insult with this loss.
- Given that E’Twaun Moore and Kirk Hinrich were already sidelined before the Rose injury, that left inconsistent reserve point guard Aaron Brooks to log an uneasy 33 minutes in this contest. Brooks started off well, shooting 4/5 from the field through the first three quarters while tallying four assists. He was patient and selective when it came to his shooting, something the trigger-happy guard has been known to struggle with. Unfortunately, the 4th was a completely different story for Brooks and the Bulls. The diminutive point guard shot just 1/8 from the field, mostly contested threes, while the Bulls as a team totaled just 16 points for the quarter. Brooks rarely set up the offense in the final frame, often choosing to be a bit to aggressive and playing hero ball after going over his minutes per game average in the first three quarters alone.
- The only bright spots from this game were the individual performances of the much maligned Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol. Mirotic ended with a stat-line of 15 points and eight boards on 6/11 shooting. The forward was active on the defensive side of the ball but what impressed me most was his willingness to drive to the basket instead of settling for his normal three point shot. Mirotic shot just two treys while hitting one of them, but his aggressiveness has led to two straight impressive performances for him after going for 17 points and six rebounds in the Bulls last game against the Cavs.
- As for Gasol, all he did was put up a double-double…in the FIRST quarter (13 points, 10 rebounds). It was the first time all year that feat has been accomplished, and Gasol ended the game with 19 points and 17 rebounds. The only knock on his night was his inability to keep that pace up the rest of the game. Gasol shot just 3/11 from the field after the first, playing a role in the Bulls fourth quarter collapse.
- Jimmy Butler had a quiet game, turning in 13 points, six rebounds and four assists on just 5/15 shooting. Impressive Heat rookie Justise Winslow did a fantastic job defensively on Jimmy. If Winslow can eventually develop some game on offense, he has the makings of a future star on the wings.
- As for the Heat, it turns out their Chicago-native can still play some basketball. Dwyane Wade tied his second-highest point total of the season with 28, and also added seven boards and five assists for good measure. He created havoc for the Bulls D all night with his playmaking both off the dribble and using some great passes to stretch the Bulls D out past its comfort zone. Wade hit the clinching shot over an outstretched Gasol to bury the Bulls.
- Coming up: The Bulls embark on a 7-game road trip with the first of two stops at the Staples Center to take on the anemic Lakers this upcoming Thursday.