You knew the Bulls were going to do this. As soon as they hit rock bottom and the outlook for both the present and the future of the franchise looked as bleak as it has here in a long time, the Bulls bounced back with three straight wins to reel us back in. Such a Bulls thing to do.
It started with a win over the Raptors, because the Bulls simply do not lose to the Raptors under any conditions. It continued two nights later when they downed an incredibly embarrassing Lakers team. And it kept going against the Wizards even without Derrick Rose (and Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Joakim Noah) in a loss that was so shameful for Washington it caused their fans to give up on the season, just like us a week earlier.
Somewhere along the way, I started to feel a little guilty about torching the organization last week. There is truly nothing I would love more than for the Bulls to get on a roll, ace the offseason and throw it all back in my face. I have no pride. With that in mind, this seemed like a good opportunity to actually say something nice about the Bulls. Here are 10 nice things:
1. D. ROSE BACK
Who's that coming around the bend?
Rose has been excellent as of late. He's averaging 21.9 points, six assists and 5.6 rebounds in February (nine games), shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from three. He looks like the fastest player on the floor, his dribble-drive game has a certain shake that's been missing since he tore his ACL and he's finally found his touch around the basket.
Last season, this play almost certainly would have ended in a missed three. Now? Straight buckets:
I'm also totally in favor of Rose resting when he feels like he needs rest. The Bulls don't need him mailing in games because his body doesn't feel right. He's finally been relatively healthy this year (knocking on every piece of wood in my apartment while I write this) and the Bulls need to keep it that way.
Rose is on pace to play 70 games. He played 61 in the previous three seasons combined.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 25, 2016
2. E'Twaun the god
E'Twaun more has been found money for this team. He's shooting 45 percent from three on the season, he's the second best perimeter defend on the team behind Butler and lately he's showing he can create for himself in a pinch. Moore was great against the Lakers (scoring a career-high 24 points) and took over late against Washington, too. Even his quotes are awesome:
E’Twaun Moore on clutch minutes: "It’s in you. It’s either in you or not. It’s no other way around it for me. I’ve never been scared."— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) February 25, 2016
The Bulls have been missing this type of shooting, perimeter defense and supplemental ball handling on the wing for so long. He's a perfect role player between Rose and Butler, and he's making a convincing argument right now that he should both start and finish games when everyone gets healthy. Take it from McDermott:
McDermott on Moore: "He has one of the better floaters I’ve ever seen. He’s got such good touch around the rim; he was our closer tonight."— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) February 25, 2016
The closer! The man is even getting announced last in the starting lineup now. He'll have his own version of the MJ statue in 10 years at this rate.
3. Mike Dunleavy is still extremely good
Perhaps it should be no surprise that Mike Dunleavy is incredibly value to this team. The Bulls were rolling until he got hurt last season, then promptly went 9-10 in the 20 games he missed. He's another guy who just makes everyone better: his shooting opens up driving lanes for everyone else, he rarely makes a wrong decision when the ball gets in his hands and he has the size to allow Hoiberg to play more four-out lineups.
Does Mike Dunleavy even know Mike Dunleavy is 6'10? The Bulls closed by going four-out against Toronto and that's a look that should become a permanent staple for the Bulls in the future (you know I'm already on the five-out bandwagon). Hoiberg has been rolling with two traditional big men most of the season, but that's only because Gasol's inability to defend in space is such a liability. What we've seen since Dunleavy returned looks like the HoiBall we were promised all along. You just need the right pieces to make it happen.
Speaking of which ....
4. Let Fred Hoiberg live
Doug McDermott says Fred Hoiberg isn't really calling plays lately. Bulls just flowing into system.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) February 25, 2016
It's amazing what can happen when you have four shooters on the floor, no one holds the ball and the one big man can defend the paint and control the glass, huh?
I know half of you dopes wanted Hoiberg fired after 40 games, but give the man a chance to breathe. He might end up not being great and there's a high probability he won't be able to carry this franchise to the same heights as Peak Thibs, but it's still too early to make any sweeping judgments about his level of competence.
I do think there's something to getting everyone to buy-in. The Zach Lowe report that certain players asked to put in Thibodeau era sets back in is troubling, and perhaps the first time the "Hoiberg Is Trestman" crowd actually had ground to stand on. But it takes time, and sometimes that means more than one half of his first season. Everyone is always so impatient. Let's just ride this thing out and see what happens.
5. ...... DOUG?
DOUG DOUG DOUG DOUG.
Doug McDermott on Jimmy Butler's reaction to his big dunk: "Jimmy said it was pretty good for a white boy."— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) February 25, 2016
6. This Jimmy Vine
Jimmy Stretch My Hands Pt. 3
7. Tony Snell stays being the court jester
I'm sorry, Tony. But really, I am not.
8. Joakim Noah still lives on Instagram
9. The East ... still bad?
I do think the East is going to be pretty good, pretty soon. I love the Tobias Harris trade for the Pistons and am convinced they will be a threat to make the Finals as soon as Stanley Johnson arrives, which won't take long. The Pacers are coming too, with Paul George and Myles Turner likely set to form one of the league's best inside-out duos. I'm already sold Kristaps Porzingis is a Hall of Famer. He's going to attract more talent to New York.
But for this year? I'll take my chances against Toronto in a seven-game series. I'd roll with the Bulls against the Heat. I think they could beat the Pacers. I don't like matchups vs. Atlanta or Boston, and I wouldn't like one against Detroit, either. But it isn't inconceivable the Bulls can still win a playoff series and get right back where we left them: getting trucked by LeBron and the Cavs in the playoffs.
It feels good to be back.
10. The Booz News
Thanks for doing my work for me, Internet. This has been the Booz News.