So the Spurs game was fun for about a half when the Bulls offense somehow found it's rhythm behind the three point line, but the Spurs adjusted, Chicago slumped, and it ended in a rout. One thing became crystal clear from the game though, we need to throw Rip Hamilton from the train, hope he stays hurt, tell him to stay at home, or whatever else it takes to force Tom Thibodeau to start Marco Belinelli.
Why is Marco Belinelli better as a starter? The world may never know. However, much like Nate Robinson immediately stinks as a starter but works well as a spark plug, Belinelli turns to crap as a reserve while he plays excellently as a starter. We've now seen this pattern repeat both times Rip Hamilton has been out with injury, and the team overall has played much better while that's been the case.
Statistically, it shouldn't be so. Hamilton has put up better numbers (marginally) than Belinelli on the season. Neither one gives you a supreme defensive effort as both try but are limited in what they can do. It would seem like Hamilton would be the best option except that he's not, and a big reason why is that Marco's season numbers don't do justice to what he's been able to do when inserted into the starting lineup.
The biggest difference is in the three point shooting. With big minutes, Marco seems to find a comfort zone from beyond the arc and knocks down a very high percentage of his three point shots. With lesser minutes his shooting is frequently off. Maybe he's simply not a guy who can get into a rhythm quickly off the bench and needs to have some time on the floor to get his feel. Maybe he needs the comfort of knowing no one's looking over his shoulder.
Probably not good traits for a guy making two million a year because he's unlikely to ever consistently get huge minutes or live without the threat of a replacement. Belinelli simply isn't good enough to walk onto a team and hold the starting spot. However, he is good enough as a starter where that should be his situation here because the Bulls won't start Butler and starting Belinelli kicks Rip Hamilton's ass.
Duncan got the last laugh but...
It was still fun watching Joakim Noah get in Tim Duncan's head and play some pretty amazing defense on him at stretches during the game. Duncan looked incredibly frustrated by Noah's defense and struggled significantly during most of the minutes that Jo guarded him. Even though Duncan had the vastly superior game overall, it was fun to watch Noah being Noah against one of the all time greats even if he is at the end of his career.
In the end, the game ended up fairly similarly to what you'd expect with the Bulls playing the Spurs while missing half their lineup. It ended in a loss that wasn't too pretty. The Bulls kept pace through three quarters, but when the Spurs opened up the fourth with consecutive three pointers Chicago had no answer and never got the game within reach again.