The Bulls (26-20) have now lost five of seven after dropping last nights game in Utah (21-25) 105-96 in OT. Let’s take a look back at the good (very little) and bad (way too much) from last night’s contest.
- The Bulls managed to blow a game they had no business losing in the last minute. Derrick Rose hit a clutch triple on a beautifully drawn up play (a Jimmy Butler drive that drew all of the defense’s attention) that left him all alone behind the arc to give the Bulls a 93-90 lead with just 18 seconds remaining. What followed was a string of errors that forced the Bulls into OT. First the Bulls fouled an 80% free throw shooter in Gordon Hayward. Then, Taj Gibson botched a rebound after Hayward missed the second. After allowing Hayward to get in the paint for a layup to tie up the game, Hoiberg failed to draw up a good enough play to get the ball in bounds, let alone give the Bulls a chance to score. It’s hard to say who shoulders the blame for the late game collapse, but I think it’s fair to say everyone deserves a slice of the blame pie for failing to close out a mediocre team on the road.
- Another game has passed, and the questions about Hoiberg’s rotation remain as constant as ever. Hoiberg played a seemingly banged up Jimmy Butler a disturbing 47 minutes, while Gibson and Gasol each logged over 40 for the game as well. This pretty easily explains why the Bulls ran out of gas in the overtime, getting outscored 12-3 in the extra five minutes. For a Chicago media that was ready to lynch Tom Thibodeau for running players into the ground, the press has been eerily quiet when it comes to Hoiberg’s distribution of minutes. Especially considering that Jimmy Butler (38.3 mpg) is still leading the league in playing time by a full minute over the next closest player. This is doubly baffling considering that Tony Snell (a recent starter) and Aaron Brooks (a +4 on the night) played a combined 15 minutes in an overtime game. I know Hoiberg is hell-bent on not subbing in OT, but as the coach you have to notice when your players are fatigued and hurting the team on both ends of the floor. Meanwhile, E’Twaun Moore played 27 minutes with a plus/minus of -17 while looking completely lost on defense the majority of the night. Something needs to change in Hoiberg’s rotation or the Bulls will continue this lack of consistency for the full 82 game marathon.
- The backcourt duo of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler both got taken to the woodshed on the defensive side of the ball. Brazil native Raul Neto relished the opportunity of facing off against the former MVP and went for a career-high 14 points on 6/8 shooting while netting a +18 in 32 minutes. Meanwhile Butler was getting beat by Gordon Hayward in every conceivable way. Hayward finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists and took over down the stretch for the Jazz, scoring 15 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
- The game was decided down the stretch by who was the more aggressive team. Utah continually drove the lane and got to the line in the fourth quarter and OT while the Bulls spent most of their possessions standing around while Jimmy Butler played hero ball. The Jazz were rewarded with 20 free throws after the third while the Bulls managed just eight over that same span. Butler is a special talent, but he can not do it all on his own in crunch time. Rose, Gasol, and Gibson combining for nine points over the final 17 minutes of play is not going to get it done on the road. This is especially true when Rose shoots an abysmal 6/21 for the game, too often forcing his shot in the lane instead of looking to kick it out to open teammates.
- The lone bright spots for the Bulls were Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol. Gasol got the Bulls going early scoring 11 points in the first, finishing the game with 19 points on 8/13 shooting to go along with eight boards. Butler did his best as always to will the Bulls to a much needed W, scoring 14 points in the 4th quarter and overtime to end the game with 26 points, seven rebounds, and six assists on 10/17 shooting.
- Coming up: The Bulls continue their road trip against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.