In possibly the worst game of basketball you’re ever likely to see, the Bulls were a fraction less terrible, somehow finding a way to beat the Altanta Hawks 97-85.
On the second night of a back-to-back road schedule, things started well for the Bulls, opening up a 10-1 lead early on the back of some good transition defense. Holding the Hawks without a field goal for half the first quarter, it appeared a convincing win was potentially in the cards. That is until the Hawks started firing from deep. Giving up six made threes in short succession and being outscored 24-12 for the remainder of the period, the Bulls closed the first quarter behind 25-22.
That set the table for one of the strangest games we’ve seen in a while.
These two teams are really bad
Despite only making three 2-point field goals in the first half, the Hawks led the Bulls by three points heading into the half-time break. That in itself seems impossible, but when your opponent shoots 33 percent from the field and only 26 percent from three over the opening two quarters, you can be inept and still run up the score.
It turned around for the Bulls in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter after connecting on seven threes. Ultimately, that would be enough to eek out a win, but there were so many possessions in this game where both teams would trade clanked shots and turnovers.
Let us move on and forget this one ever happened.
Brian Arrivederci was good, you guys
We were gifted the Payne Game on Wednesday, now we have this iconic performance from another backup guard to salivate over. Perhaps this statement means the Bulls are in a sad place, but: without Ryan Arcidiacono [deserves his actual name in this! -yfbb] going harder than anyone else on the floor in the third quarter, the Bulls are staring down at a 1-5 record.
Playing 19.5 minutes in the second half, Arcidiacono was instrumental in setting up the win, finishing the game with 13 points, seven assists, and fantastic defense on Hawks first-round pick Trae Young.
If nothing else, the grit-first guard knows how to run an offense, control the tempo, and to constantly hustle on defense. And he’s producing, averaging 5.6 assists in 24 minutes off the bench while shooting over 50 percent from the field and three.
There isn’t much to be excited about with this team right now, so these small, random outlier performances from inferior role players are ironic and amusing. For me, as a devotee to the original ‘Captain Thrust’ Kirk Hinrich, seeing Arcidiacono ball out like this was a victory in itself. He’s flawed and may not have a long career, but in this game he was the Bulls’ best option at point guard, so let me have this.
Weird one for Zach LaVine
LaVine kept his scoring prowess and was helping out his bigs on the glass, and pulling down a career-high 11 rebounds. But what do we make of the nine turnovers?
On the season, LaVine now has more turnovers (26) than assists (20). Some of this is clearly on him. Too many times he is nonchalant with the ball, casually throwing passes that are stolen in would sure be a routine play.
LaVine needs to remove these careless turnovers out of his game, particularly if he’s going to continue to carry such a heavy load on offense. Trouble for him (and the Bulls) is, with so many rotational players out of the lineup and so few other on-ball creators to rely on, defenses have already begun adjusting and locking in on him, sending double and triple team traps his way.
This is the next step in his development curve. Without Dunn, LaVine handling the ball at the point of attack is going to draw a crowd. How he navigates through this, be it for his own shot or to setup catch-and-shoot chances for those around him, will ultimately decide how effective the offense can be whilst we wait for the injured guys to return.
- Wendell Carter Jr. notched up his first career double-double, scoring 10 points to go along with 10 rebounds. The rookie looked much more comfortable on offense, putting up two three-pointers and being used as rolling dunk option on several occasions.
- Like the Bulls, it was a tale of two halves for Jabari Parker. In the opening two quarters, he couldn’t have been any worse, scoring five points on 2-of-9 shooting. In the second half, however, he was efficient when it mattered, taking good shot within rhythm, scoring 13 points and hitting 3-of-4 threes.
- The Bulls needed this win before their hellish schedule kicks off next week. First up, the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, followed by the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets, all of whom visit the United Center this week. Oh boy.