Note-A-Bulls: Bulls waste big games from Butler and Wade in home loss to Blazers

When you fail to shoot the ball well in the 4th quarter of an NBA game you’re typically going to lose that game. That’s exactly what happened Monday night at the United Center as the Bulls (11-9) lost a tough one to the Portland Trail Blazers (12-10) by a score of 112-110. After a back-and-forth affair that featured a game of numerous runs ended with the Blazer duo of Evan Turner and Damian Lillard making more plays down the stretch to hold of D Wade and Jimmy Butler to send the Bulls to their third loss in four games.

  • You hate to lose a game where your two best players play like just that, but that’s what happened against the Blazers as Wade and Butler both had tremendous efforts that were wasted. Wade scored 34, going 11/13 from the charity stripe while Butler put in 26 (his 14th straight over 20) and was perfect on eight attempts from the free throw line.
  • Both players were great at creating their own shot and making something out of nothing on a night where the Bulls offense was inconsistent to say the least. Unfortunately the duo got little help from the rest of their team as no other starter scored more than eight.
  • Another bright spot in this game was the Bulls ability to get to the free throw line as alluded to earlier. The Bulls got there 38 times, compared to the Blazers 18, and made 33 of them for an outstanding 86.8% on the night. Usually when you shoot 20 more free throws at home than you opponent and make more than 80% of them you’re in good shape, while that wasn’t the case tonight Bulls fans should hope this trend continues.
  • However, as in most losses, there was more bad than good in this one. Let’s start with Rajon Rondo being asked to sit this game out for disciplinary reasons. While Rondo has been the subject of much criticism recently, his absence showed just how thin they are at the point guard position. Jerian Grant got absolutely demolished by Lillard on multiple occasions and Isaia Canaan wasn’t much better in relief.
  • Canaan’s play down the stretch was concerning to say the least. Canaan wasn’t valuing each possession as he should have, giving away a couple bad turnovers and forcing up bad shots early in the shot clock in the fourth quarter. While Canaan isn’t used to playing in big time situations, he has to know better than to give away valuable possessions in a tight game. It probably would have been best to let Wade or Butler bring the ball up the last five minutes or so but hindsight is always 20/20.
  • The defense struggled again giving up more than 100 points for the sixth time in their last eight games. The Bulls struggled to cool the hot hand, whether it was Lillard or Turner at any given point, which allowed both players to go on continuous streaks at important times of the game. Take for example, a few series in a row in the fourth where Mirotic got switched on to Turner and resulted in baskets for him each time. That’s unacceptable play out of this team at this point in the season. Additionally, there were times throughout the game where the Bulls seemed to forget the most important defensive rule, stop the ball in transition. The Blazers got too many open shots too easily because the dribbler was never stopped once he crossed half court. This was part of the reason they put up 65 in the first half and continued on to put up monster numbers throughout the game.
  • As previously mentioned, some Trailblazers had some very solid games. Damian Lillard, per usual, had 30 points, seven dimes, and four boards while CJ McCollum had 24 points and five assists on 10/19 shooting. When they’re on, this is one of the prolific scoring duos in the league and they showed it tonight scoring in all different types of ways. The Blazers as a team shot a remarkable 48.4% which enabled them to overcome the free throw discrepancy and take home a big road win.
  • Up Next: The Bulls head to the Motor City on no rest to take on the Detroit Pistons Tuesday night.
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