As per usual, the Chicago Bulls played solid defense and rebounded like mad. And, like most days, they just couldn't score enough to pull out the victory.
Look, the Los Angeles Clippers are a really good team. They kind of remind me of the Bulls of the last couple of years: They're led by an elite point guard, feature a scoring power forward without much defensive ability, a center known for his defense and rebounding and an elite bench. The similarities really end there — the benches don't really compare at all and there's no Luol Deng analog to speak of — but still. They went into last night as the fourth best offensive team in the league and the seventh best defensive team. A five-point loss, even at home, is nothing to be ashamed of.
And still, there were plenty of things to like. The Bulls actually started out 8/10 from three, and even though they finished just 2/10, that definitely helped the offense. The bigs were great, with Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah both putting up double-doubles and Taj Gibson adding 10 points and 6 rebounds in just 13 minutes off the bench. Boozer actually put the team on his back for a couple of extended stretches, and kept things from getting out of hand in the fourth quarter when it looked like LA would pull away. He finished with 24 and 13, but could have had more if he'd gotten the benefit of the doubt on a couple of calls in the fourth quarter.
Side Note: Carlos Boozer has never, ever, ever, ever, ever gotten the benefit of the doubt on a block/charge call. Not since coming to the Bulls, anyway. If he drives to the rim and anyone gets in anything remotely resembling charge-taking position, the refs will call it. He had a potential three point play opportunity taken away in the fourth quarter last night when Lamar Odom — yes, he's still a thing — was clearly moving as he tried to draw a charge on Boozer, but got the call anyway.
Anyway, I could go on about how Marco Belinelli couldn't make anything that wasn't a three or a layup, or how Luol Deng couldn't make anything, period, or how the starters played way too many minutes — four of the five starters played 40 minutes or more. But the fact is that the Bulls are going to struggle against the elite teams without Derrick Rose. That win against the Knicks was fun, but it's unreasonable to expect that on anything like a regular basis.
Having said that, watching the Bulls compete against a clearly superior team was a lot of fun. Even when the Bulls are outmatched, you always know they're going to compete and scrap and claw to keep themselves in the game as long as they can. It may not be pretty, but it will be intense.
Player o' the Game: Carlos Boozer (24 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists)
Hard to say enough about his offensive game on a night when the Bulls sorely needed it. Yes, he's still terrible defensively, but let's not pretend we ever expected him not to be. He did exactly what we keep wanting him to: attack the rim and score when called upon. It's a lot of fun to rain abuse on him, and he usually deserves it, but you can't blame him for what happened here.
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