Jimmy Butler put up career high 28 points on just 12 shot attempts, knocking down all three of his threes pointers and 10 looks all together. For much of the night Butler was the only thing the Bulls had going for them.
The nice thing about Butler's excellent play recently has been his improved three point shooting. Butler started off the season shooting very few threes but as he's transitioned to shooting guard to cover up for injuries his role as a shooter has expanded considerably and his percentages have risen. He's kept that up even when transitioning back to small forward to cover for Deng, who's resting a sore hip.
Butler's now up to 35.8% from beyond the arc on the season which is respectable even if not great. Given the defense, foul drawing, and hustle he brings to the table, the Bulls feel much better with him logging serious minutes than they do with any of their other options.
Where's the D?
Injured, and sitting on the bench.
It felt like the Bulls couldn't buy a bucket at many points in the game, but shooting 43% overall while going 10/17 from the three point line is probably a better than average offensive night from this squad. The problem is that in consecutive games, the Bulls have allowed a team that is complete garbage to shoot over 50% from the field against them.
Hot three point shooting combined with offensive rebounding kept the Bulls close enough to have a chance at the end, but ultimately, the Bulls defense is what has let them down against Detroit and Toronto.
Without Gibson or Noah, the Bulls lack anyone to play real help defense around the basket while not having Deng removes the Bulls best perimeter defender [though Jimmy Butler is right there].
Welcome back Rip, at least you didn't start
I was kind of hoping that the Bulls had sent Rip Hamilton away from the team because they were just sick of him, but no, apparently he really was hurt and Aggrey Sam's report of a bulging disc in Rip's back being the cause of his more prolonged absence appears accurate (if disappointing).
Hamilton went out and played a typical Hamilton game. He shot poorly, looked slow and lost on defense, and did little else useful for the team. The best news about Hamilton coming back was that it wasn't in the starting lineup. Other than that, I'd prefer he just go chill on an island somewhere and count his money.
With Beli and Rip back, it felt like the Bulls waited too long to get Nate Robinson on the court. Chicago was more or less crushed every second he wasn't on the court, and Robinson's playground skills were enough to break down the Raptors defense and cause openings for himself and others.
Robinson shot just 7/22, but still scored 22 points due to getting to the line a couple times and knocking down five of his nine threes. The team looked radically better when he was on the floor and struggled mightily when either Rip or Belinelli were in the game in his place.
Given how lousy things looked with Rip/Beli, I'd prefer the Bulls just throw Marquis Teague out there so he gets some developmental time. The results would probably be even worse, but it'd be nice to kick start Teague for next season to see if he has anything even if it means sitting through some ugliness.
Bulls free falling towards 6th/7th
Just a couple of days ago, it looked like the Bulls were mostly locked up against the Nets, but consecutive losses to two of the worst teams in the NBA change the outlook considerably. If Chicago doesn't get back some of its injured players then additional wins will be tough to come by as well.
The Bulls play the Knicks on Thursday, and while they've beaten the Knicks three times this season it's unlikely that a banged up Bulls squad will offer much resistance to a Knicks team which is simply on fire right now.
Chicago needs a combined two wins or two losses by the Bucks to lock in the 7th spot, and the Bucks should take care of that for Chicago even if they lose out, thus wins aren't particularly important for this team. If they can't get healthy they're not going to go anywhere anyway, so getting healthy has to be the #1 priority even if it makes for some ugly, frustrating to watch basketball.