Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse after losing back to back blow out games against the dreadful New York Knicks… it did. The Bulls dropped their third straight, falling 111-89 to the Orlando Magic. They’re now firmly on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, a full two games behind Detroit at 36-36. Their odds of making the playoffs are getting longer; even so, might it be better to miss the playoffs at this point?
- The Bulls defense is atrocious. Giving up 111 to this Magic team is unacceptable. This isn’t even as much a function of scheme as it is effort. The Bulls aren’t communicating on switches, aren’t getting in defensive stances, aren’t challenging threes effectively, aren’t rotating, aren’t stepping up, aren’t handling defense in transition. Simple things. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch. Early on in the season, they could get away with lackadaisical effort because they could rely on outscoring opponents; lately, they haven’t been able to do that, not by a long shot. The Bulls have let up 100 or more points in 25 out of the last 27 games and have gone 10-17 in that stretch.
- The “Big Three” of Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, and Derrick Rose combined for just 28 points and 3/8 from the line, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists against an ailing Magic team that isn’t playing for anything at this point, as they are well out of the playoff picture. The guys the Bulls are supposed to be relying on to be solid were -23 on the game. Oh, and by the way, the Magic were playing without Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo.
- Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott continue to have good showings. Taj posted 16 points on 8/9 shooting in 26 minutes; Dougie with 12 points on 5/10 shooting and 2/2 from long range in 21 minutes. The Bulls were so out of this one that Fred Hoiberg decided to give Tony Snell six minutes at the end of the game, down 24, something he hasn’t done in quite some time.
- You can point fingers at a lot of guys, including the front office, head coach, medical staff, and the players. There’s certainly no silver bullet, but one thing is for certain – this is a veteran group of guys who are showing a distinct lack of leadership. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how bad the organization might be run, this is a players’ league and the players have to have some pride, accountability, and respect for one another. It’s quite clear that these Bulls are not playing for each other, and everybody loses.
- The Bulls are dangerously close to falling below .500 for the first time all season. They’ve hovered there three other times, but managed to pull out a victory. Against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, the Bulls are a favorite… to be below .500 for the first… time… all seas- have I made my point yet? Yeah, it’s not good.
- Coming up: the Bulls go to Atlanta on Monday night.