Well the Jekyll and Hyde Bulls are back at it with a dominating 112-80 win over the Magic (3-4) at the United Center, improving to 4-3 on the young season. What looked to be a shootout early only materialized for one side as the Magic scored 22 points in the first 6 minutes of the contest, only to score 58 in the final 42 minutes of the game. When McBuckets plays more than 60% of the starting lineup, you know it was a good game for the home squad. This Bulls team has flashed some brilliant play over the first seven games, but need to do it on a more consistent basis to be taken seriously as a contender this year.
- I would give my meaningless MVP of the game to Taj Gibson. Jimmy Butler may have had better numbers, which I’ll get into later, but Taj brought the much-needed energy from the tip to ensure the losing streak stopped at three. Gibson ended the night with 16 points on 7/13 shooting including 11 boards and three assists. Gibson also didn’t commit a single turnover on the night which is big because he can sometimes be a blackhole on offense in the post and just put his head down with no regard for his surroundings. But not on this night as Gibson played well on both ends of the floor clogging up the paint and finishing the night with a resounding +/- of +25.
- Jimmy can not be forgotten in this recap. There may be three alpha’s on this team, but Butler was the head honcho tonight, as the Marquette product finished the night with a stat-stuffing line of 20 points, seven assists, five boards, and four steals. Butler did a great job of getting to the rim early and forcing the issue when the offense was stagnant at times. Butler didn’t even shoot the ball well (5/13) but was still able to find a way to make an impact on the offensive side of things which will be important to continue going forward.
- A big shoutout goes to the Bulls second unit as well. This group played significant minutes in the third and fourth quarters Despite the outcome already being decided, this group hustled and grinded every minute they were out there to swell the lead even more-so. Special recognition goes to Isaiah Canaan (10 points, four rebounds), Doug McDermott (11 points, four rebounds), and Bobby Portis (nine points, six rebounds) who carried the bulk of the load for the bench. This trio also combined to shoot 11/18 (61 percent) from the field on the night finding open shots and put back opportunities all game long.
- The one question I have from this game is “why?” Why can’t the Bulls always play like this? In the first quarter it seemed like Deja Vu with the lackluster defensive effort and piss-poor transition D as Orlando raced out to 22 points in the first half of a quarter. But after that, the Bulls buckled down and closed down on shooters better while the Magic finally started missing some shots. Overall, it seems to come down to effort, as the skill is there when the time calls for it. Here’s to hoping they can string that type of effort together for weeks at a time as opposed to quarters at a time.
- The takeaways for the Magic in this game are mostly negative apart from one, Aaron Gordon. The dude is a stud and could easily be a breakout star this year. He has vastly improved his shot since being in The Association, and his athletic freak rating is still at an all-time high. He just needs to study the game a bit more and figure out some spacing issues and when is best to post up as opposed to hanging around the perimeter and this guy will be a perennial double-double machine.
- Up Next: The Bulls travel to Atlanta to take on Dwight Howard and the Hawks on Wednesday night.