[Thanks to Rohmeresque for today's game preview -yfbb]
It seems only fitting that the Bulls play the Hornets at this point. Losers of their last 4 of 5 games and winners of only their last 5 of 13 games the Bulls have finally revealed themselves for what they truly are: a bad team. Gone are the days when we teetered back-and-forth as to whether this is a good team. Gone are the days of pointing to victories against SA, OKC, CLE, and LAC. Gone are the days of the sample size not being big enough. Those days are gone. And so it's only appropriate that at the lowest point of the season the Bulls return to the site of where it all started to go wrong - Charlotte. It seems that the not so long ago 25 point beat down the Hornets gave the Bulls on November 3 was not the aberration many hoped it was - it was in fact the reality. Those victories against the top seeds were the aberrations all along.
The reasons for the failings of the Bulls cannot be totally pinpointed but one thing can be said: it isn't just one thing, it is a combination of a lot of things. Energy levels, coaching, player personnel, that about covers everything under the sun for a professional basketball team and every single issue is a problem for the Bulls to some degree. It would be nice if the Bulls actually put in maximum effort as that could help pinpoint the problem. Putting in the effort would allow the real problem to come to the surface. The lack of effort not only loses them games but also keeps the real issues from being known. Effort is the place to start for this team, but as we know asking this team to show up to work is surprisingly asking quite a bit.
On the injury side the Bulls aren't getting much help either. Just as "everyone" (I use quotes because when are the Bulls actually completely healthy?) was on the way to getting healthy Butler goes down with a knee sprain. As of this writing the Bulls will be without Noah, Miortic, and Butler while Gasol is still nursing a sore hand (though he should play) and Dunleavy is playing in only his second game back. On the Hornets side of things Batum and Walker are back and their only injury is Al Jefferson.
The outlook for this game isn't great for the Bulls. The fact that Walker and Batum are fully healthy and that the Bulls don't have Butler doesn't make matters any better; it makes matters worse. As they normally do the Bulls will more than likely come to play in the first half, keep it close throughout, and then fade in the second half. Wouldn't be surprised to see a score of something like 90-105 Charlotte.