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Bulls’ hot 2-point shooting continues in win over Kings

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The Bulls’ offense has found a groove on the back of some hot shooting inside the arc

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Heat debacle, the Bulls are 3-1 and their offense has found a groove. They’ve scored at least 112 points in four straight games for the first time since November 1991, the second year of the three-peat.

The Bulls, playing again without Jimmy Butler, reached that mark in the final seconds of their 112-107 victory over the Kings. And while this game featured an epic collapse, it also featured more stretches of dominant offense, and specifically, red-hot two-point shooting.

The Bulls shot 53.1 percent from the field against the Kings, and given they went a poor 6-of-19 from three, that means they shot 59.7 percent from two-point range. The starters were incredibly prolific, shooting nearly 63 percent from inside the arc.

Dwyane Wade and Michael Carter-Williams were the two biggest scorers, combining to shooting 20-of-28 overall while only taking two three-pointers (both by MCW, with one make). Both players took turns hitting shots down the stretch to help stave off the Kings, with Wade hitting the game-winner on an incredibly tough fadeaway over Matt Barnes after DeMarcus Cousins tied the game (and nearly air-balled a free throw to take the lead).

This continued a trend of the Bulls shooting an unusually high percentage on two-pointers, as well as tough shots in general. Here’s the Bulls’ shot chart over the last four games:

Notice the Bulls are shooting well above league average both at the rim and from mid-range over these last four games (they’re at around 58 percent and 39 percent from these two regions over the whole season). Wade and MCW have played a big role in this. Wade is 28-of-51 from those two zones, while MCW is at 14-of-17 (and 21-of-28 from two overall).

Some of this is the function of legit good, aggressive offense that’s created quality looks. We saw MCW do a nice job attacking the Kings’ smaller point guards, especially when the Bulls needed to stop the bleeding during Sacramento’s comeback.

But the Bulls are also simply hitting all kinds of shots at an incredibly high rate that simply isn’t sustainable. Looking at NBA.com’s player tracking numbers, the Bulls have shot over 50 percent from the field on contested field goals in each of the last four games, including 55.6 percent last night. That tracking system isn’t perfect, but it matches the eye test that the Bulls are hitting more tough shots than usual of late.

We’ll see how long this continues. Given the Bulls play at Golden State on Wednesday and have a chance to hand the Warriors a second straight regular-season loss for the first time in two seasons, Chicago will probably pull off more miracles. #Streakbusters

Bad bench

As evidenced by the final score and collapse, not everything was peachy for the Bulls last night. The bench was atrocious, with every player playing a part in it:

  • Rajon Rondo had six assists and four steals, but he shot horribly and in general was a sieve defensively. Ty Lawson and the Kings’ bench unit destroyed the Bulls and played a big role in that comeback. Also, Rondo had a comically bad turnover in the fourth quarter that led to Fred Hoiberg pulling him. It probably should’ve happened earlier. He was a -21.
  • Nikola Mirotic was a -20 in his 25 minutes and again struggled with his shooting, going 3-of-11 overall and 3-of-9 from three. More questionable shot selection and head-scratching play.
  • Rough game for Paul Zipser after a solid stretch. Missed a few good looks at three and didn’t contribute anything positive.
  • Doug McDermott only played nine minutes, managed to miss three free throws, played bad defense and committed one of the worst turnovers you’ll see all year when he threw a pass from the wing to Mirotic...who was still in the backcourt.
  • Bobby Portis played six minutes in place of the injured Cristiano Felicio, committed two fouls and was simply not any good.

This game was kind of a microcosm of the Bulls’ season. Stretches of really good play and stretches of really awful play from inconsistent players, only to be bailed out down the stretch by one of the team’s two main closers (Wade and Butler). This is how we get here after 52 games:

Bad Boogie

This game was also Peak Kings. After beating the Warriors last game, Cousins and the Kings’ starters were embarrassingly bad, and it looked like Boogie wanted to be somewhere else. Fred Hoiberg made the right call having Taj Gibson guard Cousins instead of Robin Lopez after what happened last game, but Boogie made it easy on Taj by floating around the perimeter and generally not giving a crap.

Then, of course, there were the theatrics:

I have no idea why Cousins and Matt Barnes were going over by the Bulls’ bench here. You can certainly argue that Jim Boylen shouldn’t have touched them, but it looked like he was just trying to separate everybody so as not to escalate anything. Both Cousins and Barnes shoved Boylen away, which drew technical fouls.

And then at the very end of the game, Cousins complained about a no-call on a three-pointer and got tossed, which will earn him a one-game suspension because he now has 16 technicals on the season. As talented as the guy is, he still lets his emotions get the best of him when things go bad, and on the whole his effort was really awful last night.

So, yeah, typical #Kangz. The Bulls aren’t getting that pick.