Holy crap, Jimmy Butler. The guy did it all tonight. In a game that should’ve been a breeze seeing as the Wizards were without both John Wall and Bradley Beal, it unexpectedly turned into a close contest. But man oh man, where would the Bulls be without Jimmy Butler?
True enough, that’s been a common theme over the past three years now, but it’s less a question as much as it is a testament to Butler’s improvement. He finished the night in triple-double territory with 37 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. He was also 14-14 from the free throw line, naturally.
The final score of 106-95 wasn’t exactly indicative of how close this game really was for the first 36 minutes. It was an up-and-down contest which didn’t feature much shooting from either side as the teams combined for just 9 made 3s.
It’s become clear that Rajon Rondo just isn’t helping much of anything, though. He got into foul trouble early which forced Fred Hoiberg to stretch Isaiah Canaan out to 26 minutes tonight. Canaan responded well, and he actually closed the game over Rondo, which was the right call.
Another odd note was that Robin Lopez played 38 minutes tonight. I love Robin Lopez and he’s been an absolute monster on the glass, but this tells me one of two things. 1) Hoiberg is hellbent on giving Bobby Portis every possible chance before pulling the plug, which is problematic because Portis is not a center even though he’s seeing backup center minutes. 2) Cristiano Felicio doesn’t have the conditioning to be able to handle 20 minutes a night. Otherwise I see no real reason why Portis is playing ahead of Felicio right now.
At any rate, thanks in full to Butler, the Bulls improve to 6-4 on the young season. An important win prior to embarking on their annual Circus Road Trip.
Outside of Butler, Nikola Mirotic played his best game of the season. Niko scored 17 points on an efficient 6-7 shooting, 3-4 from deep. He also recorded his second double-double on the year.
Bottom line, the Bulls won a game that they had no excuse to lose. They got a huge performance from their star and wore down a depleted opponent.
Unfortunately, the Bulls did not come out of the contest unscathed. Doug McDermott took nasty-looking fall, bouncing his head off the floor after a dangerous mid-air collision with Markieff Morris took place early in the fourth quarter. McDermott exited the game and did not return after he entered the league’s concussion protocol. Of course, McDermott has already suffered a concussion this season, so the team will need to monitor the situation closely. Obviously the Bulls desperately need McDermott’s shooting, but they need not rush him back as concussions are to be treated with the utmost caution.
There’s not much more that needs to be said to recap this one. The Bulls start their west coast swing on Tuesday against Portland and don’t return home until after Thanksgiving. Like always, finishing at or near .500 would be considered a success. And like always, let’s hope they return with no major injuries.