The Bulls are a trainwreck right now, in too many ways to count. Their stretch of nightmare play continued last night with a disheartening 113-90 defeat to Atlanta on the United Center hardwood. Not even returning home from a seven game road trip mustered enough out of the Bulls, who were loudly and understandably booed by the home crowd throughout the fourth quarter.
- The Bulls held tight throughout the first half, entering the break down just five. The wheels fell off in the third quarter, though, as Atlanta sliced up the Bulls’ fledgling defense for 38 points. Through constant screens, actions, and pinpoint ball movement, the Hawks were time and again able to find wide-open, high percentage shots for their scorers. Jeff Teague paced the starters with 17 points while his backup, Dennis Schröder, led the Hawks with 18. It was a true balanced attack, with Atlanta’s offense content to take advantage of whatever open shot the Bulls would eventually surrender. The Hawks made 13 of their 33 three pointers.
- With Jimmy Butler out for the next three to four weeks, E’Twaun Moore continues to start. Moore has actually been a rare bright spot for the Bulls this season, and he turned in eight points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals last night. E’Twaun is a capable defender of both guard positions and a far more confident scorer than Tony Snell. He’s a nice rotation player who has pretty clearly established himself as the Bulls’ best guard off the bench.
- Pau Gasol led the Bulls with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. He continues to be one of the only reliable aspects of the Bulls bottom-five offense. Gasol’s defense and effort still leave plenty to be desired, but there has also been a noticeable improvement in these areas as Pau has been unafraid to call out the team publicly. Chicago’s smartest move would be to trade the All-Star (named as Butler’s replacement) if a decent offer exists, but the latest rumor has Gar Forman pining to throw $20 million at the aging big man. This would be an epic disaster.
- Derrick Rose was 6/18 for 14 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Not his best night, as he struggled to convert his usual layups and mid-range shots. Interestingly, Rose drained both his three point attempts. He looked good physically after sitting out Monday night with general soreness (perfectly fine with me if we’re getting a 70 game season out of Derrick).
- Doug McDermott led the team with 37 minutes and added 17 points on 6/12 shooting. He’s a very talented offensive player, and Fred Hoiberg absolutely needs to draw up more plays for the sweet shooter. Unfortunately, Doug is still disastrous on defense, and he posted a team-worst -29 last night.
- Taj Gibson had a quiet night before leaving with a foot sprain. I assume he’ll be fine after the All-Star break, but the Bulls seriously can’t keep anyone on the floor right now.
- With trade rumors swirling, Al Horford and Kyle Korver were both awesome last night. I understand why Atlanta is considering making big changes and moving on from some of their veterans, but you have to appreciate these guys. They play the game the right way, and more often than not that pays off for them.
- Cameron Bairstow is not an NBA player. He has zero NBA skills and has failed to show anything resembling competence offensively from his first appearance last season. I was mildly shocked that he made the roster again and I’m even more confused by Fred Hoiberg’s usage of the Australian in his rotation. I understand the Bulls are banged up and in a bad place, but Bairstow cannot play important minutes on a team that wants to win. I’d much rather see Hoiberg either 1) distribute all 96 frontcourt minutes evenly between Gibson, Gasol, and Bobby Portis or 2) experiment more with Doug McDermott or Mike Dunleavy at power forward.
- Coming up: nothing, thank the lord. The Bulls take some much-needed time off for the All-Star break. Pau Gasol is Jimmy Butler’s replacement, so both will be on hand to enjoy the weekend’s festivities.