Hey, remember when the Chicago Bulls won by 29 last night on the road against a team that was supposed to be decent? And then they were at home against a team that wasn't supposed to be all that good and was missing its two best players?
Rule of thumb: When your starting five combines to go 14/53 from the field, you're not going to do very well.
Rip Hamilton was 2/10. Kirk Hinrich went 1/8, as did Carlos Boozer. Joakim Noah was 4/12. Luol Deng managed to go 6/15 and led all scorers with 19 points, but only because he went 7/10 from the foul line.
Boozer, Hamilton and Hinrich were the worst offenders, scoring 4, 4 and 2 points respectively. Their backups, Taj Gibson, Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson, scored 12, 13 and 15 points, respectively. But that's somewhat misleading. Only Gibson and Jimmy Butler shot over 50 percent from the field, and Butler only took one shot. Belinelli was pretty good against his former team for a while, then went back to being himself down the stretch. Robinson was fine, but he's still Nate Robinson.
Look. Here's the bottom line: The Bulls are neither as good as they appeared to be last night, nor are they as bad as they appeared tonight. It's a long season, and drawing conclusions from any one game is reckless at best and downright stupid at worst. Tonight's loss was a perfect example of what statisticians refer to as regression to the mean. The Bulls went well above and beyond what can be reasonably expected from them last night, then balanced that out by falling well short of that level.
Long term, the defense is still mostly fine. Allowing 89 points is pretty solid, and a lot of that was free throws down the stretch as the Bulls desperately fouled to prolong the game. As long as the defense does its job, they'll be in most games.
Why exactly Jimmy Butler can't seem to get off the bench is a mystery to me. He played six minutes tonight. Six. Yes, Belinelli appeared to be playing well, and Deng was their best player by far for much of the game, but still. There's no real reason for Deng and Noah to play 43 minutes each on the second game of a back to back. Let Jimmy take on a chunk of Deng's minutes, and play small more, with Deng at the four with Gibson or Boozer. Also, Taj should probably be playing more than 21 minutes. Just a thought.
Player o' the Game: Luol Deng (19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists)
I don't really want to give anyone any recognition for this terrible showing, but I guess it'd be Deng. Bleh. Hopefully next game is better.
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