On a six game road trip, you would typically consider it a success if you can go 3-3; but, when final game of the trip is in Philadelphia against a glorified D-League team and you’re already in good shape at 3-2, you want to come out of it 4-2. The Bulls did just that Friday night, taking care of business in the way they’re supposed to, topping the struggling 76ers 105-89 to improve to 10-6 in a game that was never truly in question. They led wire to wire, which afforded Jimmy Butler the chance to sit out the entire fourth quarter and gain some much needed rest.
- The first quarter was a seesawing of scoring runs – the Bulls came out of the gate 8-0 with good focus, great energy, and a sense of urgency that was hard to find last year, but has been (dare I say?) fairly consistent in their first 16 games so far. The Sixers responded with their own 6-0 run, the Bulls back with another 8-0 run, and the Sixers closed on an 11-3 run of their own.
- The first quarter was the Bulls only real hiccup to speak of, hanging on to just a four point lead, 23-19, as they committed seven turnovers, perhaps a little too giddy. But, the Bulls were able to settle in, with only five turnovers for the remainder of the game and really put the game away in the third quarter with a 33-17 period.
- Butler and Dwyane Wade led the way with 26 points apiece, in 30 and 28 minutes, respectively, and both shooting over 60% for the game; Butler with his tenth straight 20+ point game.
- Jimmy continues to be the minutes leader for this team, even in a blowout, and is seen in all sorts of five-man combinations. Aside from the starting five, Butler was out there with Isaiah Canaan, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, and Denzel Valentine, which is only the third time this season we’ve seen such a lineup. This lineup also produced some unselfish, but sloppy, play late in the third quarter that resulted in a pair of threes from Valentine and Mirotic, snuffing any Sixers hopes by expanding the lead to 90-64.
- It was the Dwyane Wade show early in the fourth quarter, scoring the Bulls’ first 11 points, including a step-back three. His three point shooting is really remarkable – it’s something I never thought would be a reasonable part of his game (especially not a step-back three), but he has demonstrated an ability to make that shot this year, at just about a 39% clip.
- Rajon Rondo had quite the performance – it’s true that his numbers were steady and consistent with a classic Rondo game with six points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists, but what was perhaps more impressive was his defense and agitation. He took a charge, was pesky and meddling, and fought through screens, in addition to being a court captain, championing the best court vision on either team.
- Note-A-Bull: This team is still without Doug McDermott and Michael Carter-Williams, but fortunately their presence wasn’t needed.
- The Sixers are still in rebuild mode, as their most recognizable names are Joel Embiid (who sat this game out), Jahlil Okafor, Ersan Ilyasova, Jerryd Bayless, and Gerald Henderson. Buzz, your girlfriend, woof. They’re still having a hard time progressing, now 4-12 on the season, but are hopeful that all of this will do their players some good and will develop into valuable learning experiences down the road.
- Up Next: The Bulls get a few days off and come home to face the Lakers, while the 76ers host the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.