So after laying a giant turd against the Jazz, I fully expected the Bulls to come out with gusto in Washington on Friday. It turns out the joke was on me, as the Bulls starters were a complete abomination for most of the game, and the result was a 102-86 defeat.
Chicago's response to the Jazz loss was a 5-of-25 first quarter and a 17-point deficit. The Bulls hung around for much of the night thanks to some strong play from the bench, but every time they got close, the Wizards had an answer. John Wall controlled the game (16 points and 12 assists), Marcin Gortat and Nene murdered Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, and Rasual Butler hit multiple big shots when Chicago threatened.
Rose led the Bulls with 19 points, and he had a lot of success when he was aggressive going to the basket. He went 7-of-12 on twos, but he ruined that with a bevy of horrid threes (1-of-7) and four turnovers. Most of his three-point attempts were utterly ridiculous tonight, and they simply have to stop.
The rest of the starters were pure crap. As I mentioned, Noah and Gasol were abused by Gortat and Nene. The two Wizards bigs combined to put up 36 points and 25 rebounds while shooting 17-of-28 from the field. Noah is a downright liability on the court right now, and Gasol had no chance when he tried to back down Nene in the post. Noah's play is a major concern long term because he hasn't been good all season, and you have to wonder how much those lower-body injuries are still bothering him. I'm thinking a lot.
Jimmy Butler had his worst game of the season, shooting 2-of-12 and committing an uncharacteristic four turnovers. He was a team-worst -29 and gave too much space to Rasual Butler in the corner on several huge threes in the second half. Blech.
Kirk Hinrich just sucks and can't hang against elite competition. Hinrich is fine as a backup playing around 15 minutes per game, but his deficiencies are glaring when he's playing big minutes against really good guards. It's brutal watching him toss up bricks and toss the ball to the other team.
As bad as the starters were, we saw some nice things from the bench. Aaron Brooks had 16 points and four assists and tried to single-handedly bring the Bulls back in the fourth quarter with some hot three-point shooting. Between his threes and hilarious Instagram photos, Brooks was certainly the best part of this trip to Washington.
Mirotic was solid in his 14 minutes (too few) outside of really bad botched layup, but the most pleasant surprises were Tony Snell and E'Twaun Moore. Snell has quietly been a solid contributor over the last few games, and he made plays on both ends of the floor. The second-year man had nine points and four steals in 19 minutes, and Tom Thibodeau even had him on the court late in the game, during which he hit a three! Moore added six points and two assists and was a team-best +11.
There's no reason to panic because of a two-game losing streak, but these were two really ugly losses. It would be nice to get Mike Dunleavy back soon, but it's not looking good on that front:
Dunleavy getting MRI on ankle injury Saturday. Said its not responding.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 9, 2015
The Bulls may have to look to make a move for a wing if Dunleavy is going to be out for an extended period of time, whether that's via trade or just signing somebody off the street. Doug McDermott will hopefully be back soon and Snell appears to be improving, but that might not be good enough.
Chicago is now fourth in the East, and they're right back at it on Saturday night when Milwaukee comes to town. If the Bulls don't bring the proper effort against the upstart Bucks, it will be three straight losses.