Great use of a Friday night, team. Not only did Jimmy Butler suffer a scary and potentially very serious knee injury in the first half, but the Bulls also blew an 18-point second half lead to lose to the Nuggets, 115-110. It would hurt a lot more if we all weren't already so numb.
Butler is the big story. He was amazing in the first half, scoring 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field by attacking the middle of the Denver defense again and again. Then he went down with 2:35 left in the half, exited on a stretcher and immediately had an x-ray in the locker room. The Bulls called it a left knee sprain. Let's hope that's all it is. It's hard to be optimistic about anything relating to injuries with this franchise.
With Pau Gasol (hand), Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic already out, the Bulls had no business staying in this game without Butler. That's what made Chicago's third quarter one of the most surprising periods of the season. Doug McDermott (15 points) started to heat up, Derrick Rose found his rhythm and suddenly the Bulls were heading into the fourth with an 89-73 advantage.
It would all come crashing down in the fourth. Denver won the period 42-21 -- the Bulls simply couldn't get a stop to save their lives. A late offensive rebound and putback by Kenneth Faried off a missed free throw was the nail in the coffin.
Rose was excellent for most of the night. He scored 30 points on 13-of-27 shooting and added nine rebounds and eight assists.
Taj Gibson also added 18 points and seven bounds. There were no other positives because everything with this organization is bad right now.
From start to finish, it's hard to imagine a more depressing game. Cameron Bairstown started, Butler was knocked out and could be gone for a while, Rose was great but then had a terrible possession with under a minute left.
The game was also marred by confusion over the score in the fourth quarter -- the Bulls appeared to initially not be credited with two points from Rose, which started an ongoing back-and-forth between the officials and both coaches. The situation was eventually resolved but it must have been a distraction for both the players and coaches while the game was going on.
Best of all! The Bulls also have a game tomorrow against the Timberwolves. Woof.