I’m going to say something I haven’t said about a Bulls game in a very long time: That was a really fun game to watch. The Bulls snapped a four-game losing streak, topping the Rockets 108-100 in a fast-paced game that had 43 turnovers, but wow was it an incredible ride. If you missed it, go find it somewhere immediately. Or, you can read my BULLets. On second thought, just do both:
- Jimmy. G. Buckets. IS BACK. The hype machine is real! After missing eleven games due to a leg injury, leaving the Bulls 3-8 in his absence, Jimmy Butler came back with a vengeance, scoring 24 points, grabbing 11 boards, dishing six assists, shooting 11-12 from the free throw line, and posting a team-leading +28 in just under 34 minutes, along with his patented passing-lane steal for a jam. Butler’s aggression and excitement to be back on the floor resulted in fouling out for the his first time in his NBA career, but it came with just two and a half minutes left in the contest, coupled with a huge ovation from an appreciative crowd.
- The Bulls finally, for the first time this season, saw a starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Butler, Mike Dunleavy (the gawd), Taj Gibson, and Pau Gasol. What a welcome sight. Pau looked more focused than ever, posting 28-17-6, and dare I say it, actually didn’t look *as soft* tonight. The starting lineup was a combined +76, with Dunl3avy second behind Butler at +20. With Butler back and energy renewed, the Bulls played with fervor from tip off to finish. After averaging just 8.2 fast break points in their last five games, the Bulls went off for 24 – in part due to the Rockets’ poor defense, but mostly due to the fire and speed the Bulls backcourt brought to the table. ICYMI, rather than talking about it, I’ll just show you some of my favorite quick-paced plays from last night.. this is what we’ve been hoping to see all season under Hoiberg:
- It did not go unnoticed that Jimmy also played lock-down defense on James Harden, one of the most prolific scorers in the league. Harden ended with 36 points, but according to ESPN Stats and Info, only six of those points were scored when Butler was guarding him, shooting just two for six in that time with three turnovers.
- The Bulls will try to ride Butler’s return for the last quarter of the season and vie for a top playoff seed, as spots 5-10 are all separated by just 4.5 games. Butler means so much to this team; the vibe is simply on another level:
- The jarring between Derrick Rose and Patrick Beverley was fun to watch, and we need more of that in the NBA. Apparently the refs didn’t know that Beverley and Rose grew up playing against each other in Chicago, and awarded them double technicals. Derrick on the sparring: “Pat (Beverley), he lived in my house in the summer. No cursing; fun out there; the league is not used to that, I guess.” Derrick was having fun out there, too, finishing with 17 points and nine assists.
- Note-a-BULLs: Nikola Mirotic makes his return after being sidelined with appendicitis, notching seven points and adding two key three balls. Aaron Brooks didn’t play a single minute, possibly as a direct result of his ejection against the Magic on Wednesday. Tony Snell also did not play – coach’s decision.
- As for the Rockets, well, you lose when you mess with Benny the Bull:
- Dwight Howard played some stellar defense, so they have that going for them (sarcasm) – from our very own Coach Bik:
- Coming up: The Bulls host the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night.