The Bulls' avenged their 25-point loss to the Charlotte Hornets earlier this month on Friday night, but just barely. The Hornets entered the fourth quarter with a two-point lead and came a Jeremy Lamb three-point attempt from tying it up late in the fourth, but Lamb's shot missed and the Bulls walked away with a 102-97 victory.
These are the teams it seems like the Bulls should be pummeling if they're actually supposed to be better than last season, and that did not happen. Perhaps it isn't a surprise anymore that the Bulls play up or down to the level of competition, but it's starting to make victories like the one over the Thunder last week feel like fool's gold.
Why can't the Bulls just smoke a very mediocre Charlotte squad like this? The silver lining is that at least a) they didn't give up 130 points this time, and b) hey, they actually won.
Jimmy Butler was really great again. He scored 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting and his ability to draw fouls (where he went 11-of-14 from the line) powered the offense whenever it got stagnant. Pau Gasol also had a nice night offensively, but it's easy to wonder if those stats are empty in a game like this. He finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds on 7-of-13 shooting.
Also good: E'Twaun Moore had 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, Taj Gibson had a nice game with 12 points and ball movement was better than it had been previously even on a night the threes weren't falling. The Bulls finished with 27 assists to just 21 for the Hornets.
Then there's D. Rose. There's two ways to look at his game, as he finished with 10 points and eight assists: a) he should be more of a weapon offensively when he's going against Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin on three days rest, or b) he put it in facilitator mode with a bunch of games coming up this week and actually got the offense moving.
I'm kinda falling in the middle. In a sense, it's about time to accept the reality that Rose just isn't going to bring it every night. Maybe he's not just physically capable of doing it anymore. The injuries have taken their toll mentally and physically and it just doesn't seem like he believes he can push it every game. All things considered, that's fine. Because he when he wants to get everyone else involved, he can be a great facilitator. It's just hard to be positive when he finishes the night 4-of-14, with four more shots than points.
I did think Rose did well getting his teammates involved. When he's ready to push the tempo and has his eyes peeled for teammates instead of getting tunnel vision going to the basket, it's just a major boost for this offense. The problem is it feels like the reason the Bulls' offense sucks right now (25th in offensive efficiency) is because Rose is too lackadaisical in terms of pushing the tempo. The fact that he's shooting 36 percent on the year and 0.5 percent on threes probably doesn't help either.
Seriously, these are D. Rose's shooting numbers right now:
He's not drawing fouls, he's bricking twos and he can't make a three to save his life (1-for-18 on the year).
I'll ride for D. Rose forever because he's maybe my all-time favorite athlete. All of the commotion over his more memorable quotes has been totally overblown in my estimation. I didn't care about his "meetings and graduations" comment or him mentioning free agency at media day this year.
The real concern, though, is that his touch around the rim is gone, his jumper is completely broken outside of 16-feet and he's just not able to play with intensity every night anymore for whatever reason.
It feels like the Bulls have two big problems right now: a) they don't have enough guys who play both ends of the court, and b) they're getting nothing out of their point guards. A isn't changing unless they make a trade or Noah miraculously regains his ability to finish (it should be noted that Noah played with great energy, finishing with 18 rebounds and six assists in 23 minutes -- a historic performance). Can B change? I hope so, man. I really do. I'm just not confident about it anymore.
So, the Bulls won, and they are now 6-3. That's a pretty good record for a team that seems to be playing like garbage. Thibs-esque, I'd say. The Bulls get the Pacers at home on Monday, then go on the CIRCUS TRIP for four days, which includes dates at Phoenix, Golden State, Portland and Indiana.
Watch the Bulls give the Warriors their first loss of the year and then lose to Portland. Seems like something they would do.