Note-A-Bulls: Bulls Fail To Spread Around Scoring, Fall To Pistons 102-91, Dropping Their 3rd Straight Game.

The Bulls were looking to turn the tide against their conference rival Detroit Pistons Tuesday night, after suffering 2 losses in a row to the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trailblazers. The Bulls welcomed the return of Rajon Rondo to the lineup tonight after his one game suspension. However it was not enough, as the Bulls again became one-dimensional, relying on Jimmy Butler to carry the team. This common narrative has bitten the Bulls over the last few years, as their lack of a diverse group of players who can score at will and create their own shots, has cost them a chance at truly competing in the Eastern Conference. NBA experts continue to say you need more than one star on a team to win a championship, and while Wade and Butler can “play” those roles, the inconsistency and unreliability of the two every night has Bulls fans frustrated.

  • The Bulls struggled out of the gate to create efficient scoring opportunities, as they we unable to penetrate the paint early. Once the ball reached the elbow; it was quickly kicked back out for an ill-advised 3-point or long-range 2 attempt that missed consistently.
  • Because the Bulls were unable to produce scoring from different areas of the court, they tried again to feed the ball to Nikola Mirotic. In 23 minutes of playing time, Mirotic only totaled 5 points, and was 2 of 7 from the field, 1 for 4 from behind the arc. The Montenegro native has been getting extended opportunities with the injury to Doug McDermott’s and off-nights for Dwyane Wade and has not been able to deliver on the promise of a scoring threat the Bulls were sold on when they drafted him in 2011. It may be time for Fred Hoiberg to give another scoring option a chance, as Mirotic has not been able to deliver so far this season.
  • The #3 ranked defense of the Detroit Pistons showed its muscle tonight, forcing the Bulls to shoot contested shots every chance they had.
  • When the Bulls were, however, able to break through the Pistons’ defense, the big-man game of Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Cristiano Felicio, yes, Felicio was efficient and impressive. The trio combined for 22 points and 24 rebounds and showed Bulls fans what it looks like to have a post presence, especially going up against one of the premiere centers in the league, Andre Drummond. Bulls’ fans that were used to watching Joakim Noah on offense have gotten a pleasant surprise from this “new” trio down low.
  • Gibson continued to impress tonight, recording a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
  • As halftime approached, the Pistons offense slowed, as the Bulls cut into the lead and trailed 51-44 at the break.
  • The Bulls started the second half strong and were able to score 7 unanswered points. At the 5:19 mark in the 3rd, the Bulls, who once trailed by 17, took their first lead of the night 62-61.
  • But as I wrote in the recap of the Bulls vs. Mavericks game, turnovers were the story again tonight. The Bulls ended the game “leading” the category 14-9, and midway through the 3rd, they had already given up 20 points on 11 turnovers.
  • The Bulls comeback was riding on the shoulders of their premier scoring option, and only scoring option of the night, Jimmy Butler. While Wade had a quiet 19 points, it was Butler who emerged as tonight’s star, totaling 32 points. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Bulls have been plagued by this “single-scoring option” offensive approach. While Hoiberg does not try to implement the “Butler-only” game plan each night, it is what the Bulls are left with, based on the talent they have, at this point in the season. Wade can contribute when needed, but it is not consistent. The only true shot-creating, constant scoring threat is Butler, and if the Bulls are going to advance in the Eastern Conference, they need more than one scoring weapon.
  • The Bulls continued to chip away but to no avail. Tobias Harris lead the way for the Pistons with 22 points, and Andre Drummond held his own in the paint with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
  • The story from 3-point land tonight showed again the lack of diverse scoring options for the Bulls. While the Pistons weren’t anything to write home about, shooting only 38.1 % from behind the arc, the Bulls shot a forgettable 13.3%, going 2 for 15.
  • With a healthy Dwyane Wade, Jerian Grant only saw 4 minutes of playing tonight, and Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine did not play. Hoiberg’s use of a shorter bench tonight proved ineffective, as the Bulls were unable to get enough scoring from their starters and role players that entered the game.
  • Up Next: The Bulls try to snap their 3-game losing streak as they square off against the San Antonio Spurs at home on Thursday night.
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