After three straight DNP's from Fred Hoiberg, Aaron Brooks in his second game back scored 15 points in the fourth quarter on 6-7 shooting to propel the Chicago Bulls to a 98-94 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. With the Pelicans missing three key contributors in Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Quincy Pondexter, and on the second night of a back to back, it took 51 bench points to push the Bulls past New Orleans in the final minutes. A game in which featured a rather vintage performance from Joakim Noah and a dagger from Derrick Rose.
The Bulls started the same way with Taj Gibson at power forward for the third straight, one that featured Rose ditching the face mask and a fresh cut. But as the game got underway, it was sloppy to say the least from both sides of the spectrum. Chicago only mustered 20 first quarter points, one that featured an abysmal seven turnovers on lackadaisical passing collectively. While Rose managed to get the ball past halfcourt in a more efficient manner, the actual offense itself remained stagnant as the Pelicans jumped out to 28-20 lead to end the opening quarter.
New Orleans started the second quarter on a 6-0 run sparked by Norris Cole who had six points, five rebounds and three assists in his first eight minutes of action. At one point the Pelicans surged ahead to a 14-point lead before the Bulls managed to claw their way back into the game. Tony Snell was an enigma to say the least, presenting the Bulls with no production yet again. On multiple occasions tonight, Fred Hoiberg gave Snell the quick hook in favor of Doug McDermott.
Tony Snell is 1-for-10 for 2 points in his last 53 minutes.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 13, 2015
With McDermott providing a spark off the bench with seven first half points along with two three's from Nikola Mirotic combined with the Bulls only managing one turnover in the quarter, climbed their way back to within three to end the half down 45-42.
As the second half got underway it was more of the first from the Bulls, stagnant offense with guys holding the ball far too long. Snell got the quick hook again for McDermott, and while he wasn't hitting from the field, Jimmy Butler was able to get his way to the free throw line on multiple occasions. At one point during the end of the quarter the Bulls got it to within one, 65-64 off a 5-0 run from McDermott, but the Pelicans were able to push the lead to six, 70-64 to end the quarter.
Down six to start the fourth, the Bulls bench hit three straight three's, two from Brooks and one from Kirk Hinrich to give Chicago a three point lead 73-70. That same lineup, which was the "Hoibergo" lineup moved the ball really well to start the final period. In the end, the Bulls bench outscored the Pelicans' 52-21 overall. As New Orleans' Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans did everything they could to deliver a win, the playmaking of Brooks, activity of Noah and the dagger from Rose was too much in the end.
From an individual perspective, Brooks was great tonight finishing with 17 points, 15 of those coming in the final period. Only playing 18 minutes off the bench, Nikola Mirotic finished with 10 points off 3-6 shooting with 10 boards, maybe this is his role? Pau Gasol ended with 18 points on 6-15 shooting to go with 11 boards and three turnovers, and also held the ball way to long offensively.
The combination of Rose and Butler went 8-26 from the field for a combined 24 points, not exactly ideal. Butler wasn't efficient from the field, which has been a predicament the last couple of games, but gained a majority of his points by getting to the free throw line, nine times in all. Meanwhile, although Rose finished 4-10 from the field, he took the shots you wanted him to take, but just wasn't able to convert on them.
But it was the production of Noah and McDermott (of course in addition to Brooks) that helped to propel the Bulls to their tight win Saturday night. McDermott got off to a slow start defensively, but it was his offense the helped spark the Bulls offense. He finished with 12 points on 5-10 shooting, but also had two crucial assists to Brooks in the fourth quarter. In his most minutes of the year, totaling 29:33, Noah was looking like his old self on both ends of the floor, finishing with 10 points, nine boards, two assists and four blocks. Noah also gave fans some nostalgia:
Joakim drives by Anthony Davis and throws it down. pic.twitter.com/zTAjzhty5r— MarcusD (@_MarcusD_) December 13, 2015
Chicago returns to the court on Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, tip-off scheduled for 7pm at the United Center.