In a sense, last night's Bulls vs. Timberwolves game was a throwback to a simpler time: a day and age when Jimmy Butler had a really weird haircut. The Bulls gave out Butler bobblehead dolls on Monday, and not ones with him sports some boring-ass shaved head. Nah. If only for a night, Muffin Top Mania was alive and well:
Makes me feel young again. You know this entire season went to hell as soon as Jimmy cut his hair, yeah? Recognize that. It is the truth.
Butler's shooting struggles in January have been well-documented as he fights through turf toe and adjusts to being Thibs' new go-to workhorse. He found his jumper a bit last night, scoring 16 points on 12 shots. It was his second highest point total of the month.
Was he inspired by the bobblehead? Is Jimothy Buckets finally starting to get healthy? Both scenarios are possible, but I'd like to think he was just in a good place, mentally. According to friend of the program Sean Highkin, Jimmy's pregame vibes were on point.
Jimmy Butler’s pregame warmup playlist includes Taylor Swift’s "22," because obviously.— Sean Highkin (@highkin) January 28, 2014
Of course, we've known Jimmy is a full-blown Swiftie for a while now. Who could ever forget?
I still think those moves are fresh as hell. Much better dancing than Taylor Swift can do herself.
Unfortunately, the transformative magic of Jimmy Butler's old haircut did not help the Bulls on Monday.
With Joakim Noah out with
a hangover an illness, the Bulls couldn't slow down one of the league's 10 best offenses in Minnesota. The Bulls got within five with under two minutes left to play, but the T-Wolves escaped with a 95-86 victory. For their efforts, the Timberwolves got to leave below zero temperatures in Chicago for even colder temperatures in Minnesota. Lucky!
I thought this game might be a problem. It's all about the matchups. The real reason Minnesota struggles, and the reason Kevin Love will probably be wearing a different jersey for the 2015-16 season, is because it can't protect the rim. Love and Nikola Pekovic (who only played six minutes before leaving with an Achilles injury) are both terrific offensive players, but neither can lock down the paint. Teams that attack the basket are going to kill Minnesota.
The Bulls do not attack the basket all that often. They took 28 shots at the rim on Monday, instead settling for plenty by pull-ups by Butler, D.J. Augustin, Tony Snell and Mike Dunleavy. This is going to be a problem for the Bulls in the playoffs if they meet a team with the length and foot speed to close out on shooters. I'd like to see Augustin, in particular, be more aggressive with his drives.
Sam Smith had a different take on the loss.
Yes, the little things. But missing that one big thing, Thing 1 these days without Rose and Deng. Because then you are missing the bump and the thump and the thump and the bump, big bumps and jumps and kicks and hops and big thumps that lead to all sorts of good tricks and baskets that anyone needs on a cold, wet and snowy day to make it good fun that is funny.
I ... have no idea what this means. Can anyone translate?
While the Bulls have been beating up on an easy schedule in January, Luol Deng is suffering in Cleveland.
"We did a lot of good things (Sunday), but we did a lot of disappointing things -- things that reminds us that we're not that good," Deng told The Plain Dealer. "And we've got to be honest with ourselves."
The Cleveland Cavaliers: not that good! Maybe Deng can be part of the marketing team as well as the starting small forward.
Deng drew the parallel of the current Cavs to the Bulls teams early in Derrick Rose's career. I thought this quote was pretty cool:
"I'll be honest with you, and I really want to put Chicago behind me, but me and Joakim (Noah) weren't so nice to each other on the court if one of us didn't play hard," Deng said. "And it made us better friends, and play harder. The same with Derrick (Rose). We knew when Derrick didn't play defense. As good as he is, even his MVP year, if he didn't play defense, we all said, 'Yo, you're not playing defense. You've got to step it up.'
"I think guys here are young, but I think they'll realize that you're only as good as the guy next to you. It's never personal. I've never had an issue with a guy telling me I'm not giving it my all on the court. My first 2-3 years in the league, did I know this stuff? No. But I had good vets who did the stuff I'm trying to do now, and it paid off for me. That's what I'm trying to do now."
I am still of the opinion that Luol Deng is going to be a very good player over the course of his next contract, but does he really want to spend the last few prime years left in his career playing in Cleveland? I would not. Money talks, of course, but that's one of the three worst franchises in the NBA.
Get out, Lu! Get out while you can.
Nick Friedell's day off
OK, so Friedell (who I know a bit; he's a very nice guy) was actually working when the Bulls played the Bobcats on Saturday, but you never would have been able to tell judging by the smile
in his pants on his face!
Friedell's running obsession with the Bobcats cheerleaders is pretty great. I imagine him sending selfie Snapchats to those girls that go unresponded for months.
On the other hand, he did get some cupcakes and new calendar out of it:
Helpful for figuring out what day it is, I'm sure.
The most important story of the week
Taj and Chance the Rapper: bros!
So much going on in this picture. Taj's San Jose Sharks hat. That weird-ass t-shirt that looks like a pair of pants 2 Chainz and Grimes would wear at the same time. The funny cigarette tucked behind Chance's ear. The Chancelor letterman jacket.
Just tremendous all-around. You know how much I love "Acid Rap". Glad Taj does, too.
If you're going to mediocre, might as well do it right
Through 42 games this season the Bulls are not just .500 at 21-21, but they've scored and allowed exactly 3906 points.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) January 25, 2014