What just happened? In the simultaneously most AND least surprising game of the season, the Bulls (13-11) blew a 21 point lead at home to one of the worst teams in the NBA. The Bulls lost a clunker to Minnesota 99-94. Yes Thibs (making his anticipated return to Chicago) is a good coach, and yes, the Timberwolves (7-18) have some talent with Karl Anthony-Towns (KAT) and Andrew Wiggins, but let’s face it, the Wolves are a bad team. And somehow the Bulls found a way to blow a game where they were firing on all cylinders for the first 12+ minutes of the game. Let’s break down the Bulls worst loss of the season, shall we?
- The Bulls started on a tear, dominating the first quarter of play and going up 38-22, including a 16-0 towards the middle of the frame. The defense was clicking, the offense was getting out in transition, and the Wolves interior defense was wallpaper thin. It also didn’t hurt that the Bulls were making everything in sight, 16/22 (73%) for the quarter.
- They also made their only two threes of the first frame, and added only two more to that tally while missing 11 in the process. The Bulls also never scored 20 again in any of the last three quarters of this one to illustrate just how far south this game went. In fact, the Bulls only shot 22/65 for the final three frames, coming out to a putrid 34% over that time frame. I don’t care who you play, putting up those numbers over 36 minutes is going to result in an L more times than not.
- I don’t know what hoarse nonsense Thibs yelled at his inexperienced squad after the first, but it sure got their attention. The game flipped around the halfway point of the second as the Wolves were able to get back within striking distance thanks to some poor Bulls shooting, 8/21 (38%) and pushing the pace off of said misses. They trailed by only four at the half.
- The second half was a grind it out affair that saw the edge shift towards the T’Wolves thanks to their speed and ability to get second chance points. While the Bulls were continuing to force up bad shots and turn the ball over, Minnesota was able to get behind the Bulls secondary, err, defense, for an easy two on several occasions.
- There were some bright spots to come out of this gloomy Tuesday night. Jimmy Butler did Jimmy Butler things en route to a 27/9/6 slash line. He was a playmaker all night but couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch to eek out a win in this one.
- Robin Lopez (despite his odd -16 +/- rating) played really well on the night. RoLo scored 14 points on an efficient 7/9 shooting night, but it was his defense that stood out in this one. Lopez had four huge blocks and held KAT (one of the most promising young talents) to a 6/21 shooting night and looked uncomfortable the majority of the evening. RoLo’s presence in the middle is a nice change of pace from the stone-footed Pau Gasol Bulls fans are used to from the last couple of years.
- The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thibs minutes are again the focal point of many of his critics. Coming into tonight, the Wolves had three of the top 19 players in minutes played this year. And again tonight, every starter played AT LEAST 35 minutes! Compare that to only one Bull (Butler) getting more than 33 minutes and you wonder what Thibs is thinking. In a day and age where rest is valued more than in any other era, you would think a smart coach would want to protect his young stallions. Instead, he whips them into the ground almost every night hoping he can get his team one game closer to .500. Color me forever confused on this one.
- Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine were the two stars for Minnesota in this one. Wiggins scored 23 points and grabbed nine boards while finding different ways to score throughout the night. WIggins can not only spread the floor, but also is easily able to flash his athleticism once he gets into the lane. LaVine on the other hand had a 24/6/6 slash line on 10/18 shooting and was often on the receiving end of those long post routes down the floor for an easy two for the Wolves. He’s beginning to combine his freakish athleticism with some basketball IQ which is a scary thing for the rest of the Association.
- Up Next: The Bulls try to rebound on Thursday night against Jabari Parker and the Bucks in Milwaukee.