Dwyane Wade is no stranger to closing out close games, and with Jimmy Butler unavailable, Wade was extremely comfortable operating in the clutch. With the game tied in the final 30 seconds, Wade knocked down a fade-away jump shot from the right wing to give the Bulls a lead they would not relinquish. On the ensuing Kings possession, Wade
got away with grabbing Cousin’s jersey jumped the inbounds pass intended for Cousins and took the ball the other way for the game clinching dunk.
Wade had one of his more efficient scoring games of the season, shooting 12/18 from the field and making 7/10 of his foul shots. Wade was connecting on an array of challenging turnaround shots all game. Clearly well-rested, Wade was able to get the necessary lift on his shots for the entirety of his 30 minutes on the court.
A hot start provided the Bulls with the cushion they truly needed to defeat the Kings in Sacramento Monday night. Michael Carter-Williams, starting his second consecutive game in place of the injured Jimmy Butler, was aggressive out of the gate and led the Bulls with 15 points on 6/8 shooting in the first half, constantly penetrating and finishing with great touch around the basket. MCW finished the game with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, a block and zero turnovers. Playing his second consecutive strong game after an unexplained banishment from the lineup, Carter-Williams has hopefully earned his way back into the rotation, even when Butler returns to from injury.
Taj Gibson was matched up on DeMarcus Cousins and did a fantastic job defending Sacramento’s only real offensive threat. Taj, who scored thirteen points of his own on 6/12 shooting, held Cousins in check for much of this game. Boogie finished with 18 points, but shot a miserable 5/16 from the field as both Gibson and Robin Lopez tag-teamed Cousins all night.
Cousins had five assists in this game and could have easily had three or four more. The Bulls were aggressive doubling Cousins when he caught the ball below the foul line. Cousins has excellent vision and was picking the Bulls apart with his passing. His teammates, up until a scorching hot fourth quarter, were unable to convert on a lot of the open looks Cousins created.
The Bulls almost suffered another complete late game meltdown. Their 16 point lead after three quarters was completely erased in the final minute, and if not for some Wade heroics, the big focus of this game would again be Fred Hoiberg’s fourth quarter rotations.
Nikola Mirotic has played better games. After hitting a couple of threes in the first half, Mirotic went ice cold and finished the game 3/11 from the field. All of his misses were either wide open shots or shots taken way out of rhythm of the offense. But despite his struggles, Hoiberg elected to play Mirotic down the stretch of this game. He was -20 in his 25 minutes of action.
Part of the reason Mirotic was playing was due to Taj Gibson’s fourth quarter foul trouble. But in addition to his cold shooting night, Mirotic was very poor defensively in this game as well. While Paul Zipser did not make a shot in this game, he at least would have provided the Bulls with competent defense.
Another reason to play Mirotic would be to get at least one shooter on the floor. But considering Mirotic some great shooting threat, especially on a night he clearly didn’t have it, is a foolish exercise. Part of the need to get shooting on the court was due to Hoiberg’s bizarre decision to play two non-shooting point guards for the entire fourth quarter. Jerian Grant actually shot the ball well in this game (13 points on 80% shooting), but lineups where he shares the court with either Rajon Rondo or Carter-Williams will always create spacing issues.
Doug McDermott played nine minutes and attempted one field goal. He made it.
At the end of the day, none of Hoiberg’s mistakes were big enough to thwart Dwyane Wade and the Bulls. The Bulls improve to 2-1 on their current six game road trip and nudge their record back to .500 before taking on the Warriors on Wednesday.