With seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, a Mike Dunleavy three made it 82-82. The Bulls would go on to lose when a Rip Hamilton jumper missed as time expired.
Any time a team scores 30 points on you in a quarter, it's tempting to blame the defense. But it certainly appeared that the Bulls weren't doing much of anything differently, but the Bucks just started making jumpers. Held without a three point make until the 10:23 mark of the fourth quarter, the Bucks promptly went 3/4 from downtown over a 3:23 stretch of the fourth quarter. 8 of the Bucks 11 made field goals in the fourth quarter were jumpers. The main problem was simply that the Bulls couldn't make a goddamn thing on their end.
Look, this game sucked, but we knew this sort of thing might happen from time to time. This is hardly the first occasion where the Bulls have simply stopped scoring for an extended stretch. Hell, this isn't even the first time they've blown a double-digit fourth quarter lead this year. Sometimes things don't go your way. But the Bulls went toe-to-toe with the current Central Division leaders in two games in three days and almost came away undefeated. Given the circumstances, that's reasonably successful.
More concerning is what we saw from Tom Thibodeau. We've long since known that Thibs will ride whoever he feels gives him the best chance to win, and he will ride them hard. He wants to win every game regardless of the cost. And that's all well and good, as far as it goes.
Problems arise, however, when something like Luol Deng playing 47:18 of game time occurs, which is what happened last night. Thibs has clearly lost patience with his supposedly new and improved bench unit, as evidenced by Nazr Mohammed and Marco Belinelli receiving "DNP — Coach's Decision" in last night's box score. And, as someone who has been calling for that precise action of some time now, that was great to see. But if he's only going to play three guys off the bench, they need to play more than 40 minutes combined.
Yep, Nate Robinson (10), Jimmy Butler (12) and Taj Gibson (18) played as many minutes combined as Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer did last night, basically. That cannot happen on a nightly basis. Thibs has to learn that its OK to rest guys occasionally and that sometimes you lose.
On the bright side, no more Nazr or Marco, hopefully. Now it's just a question of reconfiguring the rotations to play with 8 guys.
Oh, and although we're getting ahead of ourselves, a nine-man rotation of Noah, Boozer, Gibson, Deng, Butler, Hamilton, Kirk Hinrich, Derrick Rose and Nate Robinson isn't all that terrible. It's not all that good, either, but it's not terrible.
Now we just have to wait.
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