The Bulls came into tonight winning three in a row; the Atlanta Hawks, losing three in a row. The Bulls had seven players in double figures against the Washington Wizards with Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose (hamstring tendonitis), Joakim Noah, and Nikola Mirotic out. Could they do it again here against the Hawks? ….No… they could not. In one of the ugliest performances of the year, the Bulls were outscored in every quarter, dropping to 30-27 in a 103-88 loss (frankly, it was overdue, considering what they’re working with right now). In what is a very tight Eastern Conference from spots three through eight, the Bulls slide into that last playoff spot after the loss. Let’s get into the BULLets:
- This game was so bad from the start that I found myself patiently awaiting Doug’s minutes just to see him pull off a dunk like he did against the Wizards. ICYMI:
And yes, this game was so bad that I now find myself posting Vines from Wednesday night just to find something to get excited about.
- Aaron Brooks is killing me – he scored nine points and logged five assists, but committed five turnovers and plenty of others that should have been. The tale of the tape tells it all. He’s increasingly too small to be effective on defense as he is drawn into switches resulting in comical mismatches. He finds his way into traps and picks up his dribble prematurely, and he isn’t an effective enough scorer to make up for his shortcomings. He’s also very very good at making behind the back passes that get picked off.
- Pau Gasol had his 33rd double double of the season with 16 points and 17 rebounds (T-4th in the NBA), but that doesn’t stop me from criticizing his effort and his inability to fit in on this team, since 12 of those rebounds came off of Atlanta misses and just five were offensive. Pau was just 6/22 tonight. Jacob Bikshorn wrote a great article on Pau’s declining play that you can find here. I won’t say much more, other than he spends a lot of time complaining to the refs. After Taj completed a three point play, instead of congratulating him, Pau turned to the ref who ate his whistle and threw up his hands, along with his patented eyebrow raise and head tilt.
- With injuries to Butler, Noah, Rose, and Mirotic, the bench had to dig deep. It did not look pretty. At one point, the Bulls played E’Twaun Moore, Doug McDermott, Justin Holiday, Bobby Portis, and Cristiano Felicio. If you told me this would be a lineup we see this year I would say “uh-oh.”
- The starters got torched by Atlanta. Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson, Tony Snell, Moore, and Gasol combined for a -78 outing. An early indicator of what the night was going to be like manifested during a sequence where Snell admired his three pointer from the top of the key, but missed it – Jeff Teague took advantage of the admiring Snell, grabbing the ball and getting out to run as Snell frantically tried to keep up alonside him; Teague started to gather to go up, and the trailing Snell almost injured himself jumping over Teague en route to stopping the fast break, ending with bodies on the floor. It wasn’t pretty.
- In these dark times, you have to look for silver linings. The lone bright spot in this game was Doug McDermott, who was 6/13 from the field and 7/7 from the line, for 20 points. He was just 1/4 from deep, but was aggressive, looking for opportunities to score. He was engaged and demonstrated great off-the-ball movement. As always, his defense wasn’t outstanding, but he had a good day, relatively speaking, at just -1. His shooting is great and everything, but after what he did against Washington with the two monster jams, I just kept wondering, though: “When is Doug gonna dunk again?” And then. It happened. OMG DOUG DUNKED AGAIN. Doug has dunked more in the last three games than Derrick Rose has in the last three years. Somebody fact check that. Seems right, but so so wrong.
- The Bulls have given up over 100 points in 12 straight games. That is all.
- Coming up: The Bulls host Damian Lillard and Portland on Saturday.