Wizards 87, Bulls 84: Shorthanded Bulls don't show enough to avoid bad loss

"Coach, can I tell you something if you promise you won't be mad? We turned the ball over again. See, you're mad, aren't you. You promised!" (Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE)

Upon hearing that Derrick Rose and Luol Deng would not suit up in this game, and that Rose has yet another new injury (meaning another injury watch begins! great...), whatever buildup there even was in the first place had deflated.

To be honest, I only watched the second half, and half-way at that. It seems like the Bulls felt similarly; although they were playing without their two all-stars, there's little excuse to lose at home to a Wizards team that was missing a few of their remaining capable players themselves. As the ones taking their place are pretty awful. Brian Cook had 2 three-pointers! I mean, he owns a soft spot in my heart as a fellow Illini...but he's awful.

The numbers were ugly: Bulls had 17 turnovers (the focus of a seething Thibs post-game), and thus suffered a 20-2 deficit in the fast break and a 48-22 deficit in points in the paint. They were kept in the game through offensive rebounding and the Wizards ineptitude (both teams shot 38%) and had a chance to tie late, but though he had just hit a huge 3-pointer, CJ Watson missed that final attempt. It was almost the 3rd straight game where a late basket could've sent the game to overtime.

A notable positive of this game was Rip Hamilton being able to play 34 minutes, including actually returning to a game during a 4th quarter. Rip had a team-high 22, and though he needed 20 shots (and had 4 turnovers) it was important to see him out there for such a duration taking hits on the shoulder.

But seeing him with Derrick Rose would've been better. It's fairly silly to be worried about the Bulls effort, they've overcome so much all season, played last night, and this kind of thing happens to every team. There also has to be some kind of mental fatigue at play seeing their leader out so often. That's not really a problem if he's back. The question of the rest of this season was seeing that soon though, and with Rip, and them finding some kind of familiarity with each other. Unfortunately that task is still very much open with only 5 games remaining. Maybe the first round of the playoffs will wind up being the 'rhythm round'.

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