The Bulls avoided their first four game losing streak in over two years Thursday night by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers, 83-80. There was nothing aesthetically pleasing about tonight's contest, which involved Chicago giving up a 16-point lead for the second time in four nights.
Los Angeles controlled the game from the tip, jumping out to a 19-11 lead early in the first quarter. Blake Griffin got off to a fast start, going 4-4 from the field before ending the quarter 5-7 with 10 points. Meanwhile the Bulls were slow to start things, shooting 3-9 from the field in the early going. However, a 12-5 run to end the quarter, capped off by a Pau Gasol three from the top of the key got the Bulls back within one, 24-23 heading into the second.
The second quarter began with the return of Aaron Brooks who received three consecutive DNP's, taking E'Twaun Moore's minutes for the night. Seven quick points from Brooks jolted the Bulls out to a 13-0 run to start the quarter, 16-0 run overall going back to Pau's buzzer beating three. It was a run that featured the infamous Hoibergo lineup, with Brooks and Kirk Hinrich manning the backcourt, kudos to them. On the opposite side of the ball, the Clippers missed 11 straight field goals before JJ Redick nailed an and-1 with 6:30 left in the quarter. At one point, the Clippers were shooting 1-18 from the field before ending the quarter 3-23 from the field. Both teams combined to miss 59 field goals in the half. That being said, in addition to Derrick Rose only seeing 3:40 of playing time in the quarter, the Bulls ended the half up 44-35.
And thus the third quarter commenced with DERRICK ROSE MASK-LESS! In Rose's most aggressive move of the season, he decided to ditch...wait never mind he just forgot it.
Rose said he forgot the mask in the lockerroom at halftime and just decided to play without it.— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) December 11, 2015
Nevertheless, the Bulls jumped out to a hot start to the half, pushing the lead to as much as 16, featuring yet another Pau three! At the 5:59 mark in the quarter, Blake Griffin received a flagrant foul two, for drilling Taj Gibson in the face. It was a questionable call to say the least, flagrant one was probably all that was warranted. While it would've seemed that this would be a turning point in the game and the Bulls would run away with the lead, they didn't. The Clippers went 5-5 from the field following Blake's ejection to go on a 11-3 run. Chicago's bench unit went on a scoring draught to end the quarter, but remained up 10 heading in the fourth.
In typical fashion the Bulls once again, gave up their 10 point lead in the final quarter. The offense, which wasn't stellar to begin with (29th overall now!), reverted to isolation basketball, an all too common theme these days. Los Angeles hit four straight three's to start the quarter and proceeded to go on a 23-9 run tying the game at 66 while the Bulls went 1-11 from the field to begin. The Clippers went 8-10 from three in the fourth, but nine points from Rose in the quarter, another three from Pau to go with some fairly solid minutes from Brooks, Chicago prevailed in the end.
Overall the Bulls shot a putrid 35.6% from the field, and 30.4% from deep. From an individual aspect, Gasol was the only player to have an efficient scoring night, shooting 10-19 from the field, 3-3 from deep with 26 points and six boards. Rose finished 5-11, 5-7 in the second half, with 11 points, three boards and two assists in a rather up and down performance. The following tweet pretty much describes my thoughts on the current Rose saga:
I do find it kind of hard to believe that Rose went from being legitimately impressive at times in the playoffs to just bad in one summer.— Caleb Nordgren (@chisportsguy41) December 11, 2015
In his second consecutive start, Gibson played well, scoring 12 points to go along with eight boards and two assists, while Jimmy Butler struggled from the field going 4-14 with 14 points.
The trio of Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell and Doug McDermott were awful tonight, there's really no other way to put it. Niko continues to struggle finding consistency on the floor with his offense and finding a rhythm. Snell got himself into early foul trouble and saw minimal time afterwards, his overall play only made matters worse. And after putting a nice streak of games together, McDermott had a rough night on both ends. To give some perspective, Brooks played over both the entire fourth quarter, yikes!
But a win is a win, right?
The Bulls play again Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center, tip-off slated for 7pm.