The Chicago Bulls have a new contender for most embarrassing loss of the season tonight after getting routed at home by an Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers team 117-107. Though the score indicates the Bulls didn’t lose by an unreasonable amount, the team surrendered a combined total of 69 points in the second and third quarters by essentially refusing to play any defense around the basket. Feel free to read on if you desire more details on how flat-out awful this defeat was.
Great early aggression from Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic got the Bulls’ offense in a quick groove, as the Bulls would score 16 points through the first five minutes of the game to go up by ten points. Rajon Rondo had some nice contributions as well but also committed three awful turnovers. He did, however, have this nice flip-up floater from just behind the basket to beat the shot clock:
Rondo followed that up with an inbounds pass off of the back of Robert Covington for a nice self-assist:
Rondo Pass Off The Defender Back pic.twitter.com/biYXqWBpgD— Gustavo Vega (@iamvega1982) March 25, 2017
But for all the offensive brilliance the Bulls put on early in the game, they just couldn’t get a consistent amount of stops on the Sixers for the remainder of the quarter. On top of that, the hot start quickly materialized into a sub-40% shooting performance for the entire quarter by Chicago. The Bulls shot 4-8 from the perimeter in the first period, but three of those makes came from Mirotic alone (and Mirotic’s lone miss was a—not exaggerating--30-footer with a little under twenty seconds left on the shot clock). Nevertheless, Butler’s individual brilliance allowed the Bulls to stay just ahead of the Sixers through the conclusion of the first quarter by a score of 28-24.
Things didn’t get any better defensively for the Bulls to start the second quarter. A mostly-reserves Chicago squad surrendered 18 points to the Sixers through the first six minutes of the period. Forgotten NBA veteran Gerald Henderson poured in 10 points on 4-5 shooting during that stretch, and his performance seemed to inspire a spark for a Sixers reserve unit that would proceed to pummel the Bulls for the remainder of the half. Sergio Rodriguez and Shawn Long would go on to combine for 23 points on 10-13 shooting, and the Sixers’ bench would end up vastly outscoring their starters 35-22 in the first half.
No, you are not having a stroke, you read that correctly. The Sixers’ bench—one of, if not the worst reserve unit in the NBA—only scored eleven less points than the entire Bulls team through the first twenty-four minutes. Conversely, the Bulls’ bench tallied nine total points in the first half, with each of the four reserves that played recording a double-digit negative +/- rating heading into the locker room. The poor offense combined with the porous defense perfectly explains why the Bulls lost the second quarter by an embarrassing score of 35-18, and subsequently the Sixers finished the first half with a 59-46 lead.
I could recap the rest of the game in paragraph-by-quarter fashion as I often do, but here’s all I need to show you to illustrate how miserable this second half was for Chicago:
- The Bulls never pulled within single digits for the remainder of the game, and the Sixers lead at one time by 26 points.
- The Sixers scored 81 points midway through the third quarter, and 93 points through the first three quarters.
- Butler almost single-handedly ran the Bulls’ offense in the second half, recorded double-digit assists (11) with zero turnovers (second game in a row he’s done that), and yet the rest of the team still found a way to turn the ball over fifteen times.
- Butler played 42 minutes in a game that was over midway through the third quarter.
- The Bulls were outscored 70-30 in the paint. Yes, the Sixers scored 40 more points down low than the Bulls did. Philadelphia had as many points in the paint tonight as Devin Booker had points against the Boston Celtics.
- The Bulls took eight more shots for the game than the Sixers did, and yet the Sixers out-shot them by nearly fifteen percent (55.4% vs. 40.7%).
- The Bulls had only six fast-break points.
- Shawn Long, last week playing on a ten day contract for the Sixers, finished the game +32 with a career-high 18 points on 8-10 shooting. Long’s performance is just the latest for a franchise that has a reputation of giving up career games to players one would consider scrubs.
- Fred Hoiberg insisted on having Jimmy Butler guard Dario Saric in the second half on top of shouldering the entire offensive load for the Bulls. Saric finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds on 12-19 shooting.
You get the picture? This game was worse than bad. It mercifully ended with a final score of 117-107 in favor of Philadelphia. Jimmy Butler finished with 36 points on 10-24 shooting (16-21 from the freethrow line), 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. Everyone else other than Mirotic was bad or didn’t play well until the game was way out of reach.
The Bulls will play again on Sunday, looking to avoid being swept for the season by a Milwaukee Bucks team that has won eight of its last ten games. Buckle up.