The Chicago Bulls aren't trying to tank. They're just mentally defeated and not that good right now. The Bulls lost another heart breaking, spirit crushing game against a Pelicans team missing its best player.
Granted, the Pelicans are no joke anymore. With Eric Gordon healthy, Jrue Holiday and Tyrke Evans added to the roster, Ryan Anderson playing the role of perfect stretch four, and Anthony Davis quickly developing into a star, they have a high powered roster.
Still, without Davis, they're a perimeter oriented team prone to poor decision making and lacking size to defend effectively on the perimeter. In short, both teams were missing their best player, and the Bulls couldn't win a home game to a team that likely finishes around .500.
More evidence to just how far away this Bulls team really is from competing and all the more reason why they need to miss the playoffs where due to the disparity between the East and West, simply missing the playoffs likely guarantees a top 10 pick.
Surprisingly, Bulls failed to defend
The Bulls offense played one of its better games. Chicago scored clutch baskets in each of the overtime periods repeatedly, and outside of Kirk Hinrich who missed multiple attempts for game winners, the Bulls scored when they needed to.
However, the Bulls, who should be uniquely set up to defend him well, let Ryan Anderson destroy them. Everytime the Pelicans were in trouble there was Ryan Anderson knocking down an open three. His confidence got so high he started hitting heavily contested, turnaround, postup 17-20 foot fade aways.
Chicago has two incredibly mobile big men to stick on Anderson who has no off the dribble game and still couldn't slow him down. They fell asleep way too many times to allow Anderson to knock down seven threes when he's basically limiting his attempts to easy shots.
Even 8-5 the Bulls couldn't get the win
The Bulls received plenty of help from the officials in this game getting the benefit of most close calls including the ridiculous offensive foul called on Ryan Anderson with the Pelicans nursing a two point lead, holding the ball, with less than 20 seconds on the clock which allowed the Bulls to tie the game and send it into triple overtime.
Some nice performances
Luol Deng finished with 37 on 15/27 shooting from the field in addition to distributing the ball well to his teammates. He did have his share of sloppy turnovers in the game, several coming near the end when he was clearly playing with extreme fatigue.
Overall, he looked good creating for the offense, leaving Aminu in the dust whenever he guarded by him and taking advantage of Evans size when matched up against him.
Joakim Noah looked a bit better in the box score than the game, but finished with 8-12 shooting including creating the shot that looked like it might send the game into quandruple over time when he knocked down a seven foot lefty hook over Ryan Anderson who defended it well.
Taj Gibson continued his stellar player scoring 26 points while shooting over 50% from the field again. If nothing else, Gibson sure doesn't look like a bad contract anymore. He looks like a legit quality starting PF in the NBA.
What the Snell?
In a game that 63 minutes long, Tony Snell only played 22 of them. Granted, most coaches just stick with one final lineup once the overtime starts and stop any idea of substitution so perhaps it's more fair to say Snell also played 22 of the first 48 minutes as well.
Still, it would have been nice to see Tony get some more burn especially in a close game at the end. I would have liked to see what the kid was made of, but perhaps we're not quite at that state in his development.
Snell wasn't all that great in his time on the floor last night, but he still knocked half his shots, all of which were from beyond the arc which made his impact on the game a positive even if he didn't bring much else to the table.
It would have been nice to Snell take advantage of his size and make an impact in more areas of the game though.