On Wednesday Night at the United Center we were treated to a game that resembled a a heaping pile of turd with a pretty bow on top. I use this analogy because for the first 47 minutes of the game, we were treated to a snooze fest between a team that was 1-14 on the road coming in (Nets) and a team that had lost six of its last seven and had shown little fight in any of those games. But let’s break down that final minute of the Bulls (16-16) 101-99 win over the Brooklyn Nets (8-23).
- After being deadlocked at 97 for over a minute, Jimmy Butler decided he had enough. He collected a steal on the defensive end before pulling up for a smooth mid range J to put the Bulls up 2. On the following possession, Brook Lopez turned back the clock (and forgot about his 16 foot surgeries apparently) by blowing by twin brother Robin to throw down a thunderous dunk with 12 seconds remaining.
- From there it was Jimmy G Buckets time. Why the Nets offered poor Bojan Bogdanovic absolutely no help D (not so much as a flash) is beyond me. How Kenny Atkinson thought it was a good idea to let the Bulls only reliable scorer with Wade out calmly step up and drain a jumper as time expired against a much slower defender is beyond me, but I’m glad he did. Butler is becoming cold-blooded in crunch time which is nice to see, and watching him drain that buzzer-beater gave me a slight glimmer of hope for the future (even if it was just the Nets).
- Speaking of Jimmy, let’s talk about the boy wonder who can do no wrong and is apparently indestructible. Even after rolling an ankle in the second half, Butler came through with a monster game to will the Bulls to win a game they really couldn’t afford to lose with the season quickly slipping away.
- The Marquette Man finished with a line of 40 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and four steals. If that isn’t a full stat sheet I don’t know what is. Butler was one of just three Bulls in double figures tonight as he scored in every imaginable way as Bogdanovic clearly struggled to slow him down with any regularity. He truly is a joy to watch on a nightly basis, it’s too bad this front office can’t put the players around him to succeed on any given night.
- The only other positive I can come up with for this game for the Bulls is the charity stripe. The Bulls managed to get to the line 29 times on the night, knocking down a remarkable 28 of them for a staggering 97% clip on the night. Attacking the basket is when this Bulls team is at its best which has a strong correlation to trips to the free throw line. This trend will be key for the Bulls going forward in order to be successful.
- Moving on from the few and far between bright spots of this game, it’s time to focus on the ever exciting topic of turnovers. The Nets aren’t exactly the most stout defense, giving up approximately 176 points per game on the road (sadly only a small exaggeration), but the Bulls still managed to turn the ball over a whopping 18 times. These were of course mostly self-inflicted wounds as the Nets didn’t suddenly turn into the Bad Boy Pistons overnight. Against good teams, every possession is valuable, and the Bulls sure don’t treat it that way as it took a late collapse from the Nets in this one to escape with a victory. It’s hard to tell if it’s the coaching, the players, or the general lack of focus that have lead to these turnover woes recently but the Bulls will be doomed as a .500 team if this continues.
- As for the battle of the Lopez twins, Brook won again outscoring his brother for the 15th time in as many head-to-head match-ups. Brook ended the night with an impressive 33 points on 12/20 shooting including a surprising 5/6 from deep. Robin managed a respectable 12 points on the night on 5/8 shooting and got the last laugh after his team pulled out a W late.
- Up Next: The Bulls travel to the Indy City to take on Paul George and the Pacers Friday night.