Bulls defeat Spurs for a rare significant win

Bulls defeat Spurs for a rare significant win

Maybe the Suns minus Bledsoe count as significant, but I'm thinking not. Barring that win, the Bulls have to go back to a December 5th win against the Heat to find a win against a quality opponent. Granted, the Spurs were missing Leonard, Ginobili, Green, and Splitter for the night, but Bulls fans are the last team to have any sympathy for someone else's injuries.

The Spurs are still high effort, talented, disciplined, methodical, and well coached.

Well at least in theory.

It didn't work out that way this game as the Bulls dominated them on the hustle board and owned the offensive glass. Chicago won the offensive rebounding battle 14 to six and the turnover battle seven to 19, and that was pretty much the game.

The Bulls played harder, smarter, and better than the Spurs. It was a reminder that this team, when healthy, still has plenty of talent even without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose.

If there was a stat for bad-assness...

Then Joakim Noah would have had a triple double, because he was a bad ass at least 10 times on defense. As is, he feel two assists shy of recording another triple double tonight. The offense runs much more smoothly when they have Noah in there to help create plays.

To me, Noah's defense was really the key to the win. Every time the ball went inside Noah was there contesting, altering, or blocking the shot. Sometimes knocking the ball away before it even got to that point. The Spurs hung close in the first half due to timely three point shooting, but they simply could never get anything else going largely because of Joakim Noah in the middle.

I won't say this often but...

Kirk Hinrich gave the Bulls a huge lift on offense. As much as I doubt Kirk's overall level of play, he's still a pretty clear upgrade to Mike James who's simply awful. Hinrich knocked down half his shots and did most (maybe all?) of his damage in the fourth quarter as the Bulls pulled away from the Spurs to hang on for the win.

Return of the efficient Jimmy Butler

Jimmy has been mired in pretty massive shooting slump. He started to come out of it against the Wolves, but was still just 5/12 from the field. Prior to that he had played seven straight games while shooting under 40%, five of those under 35%, three of them under 30%.

This is only the sixth time Butler's shot over 40% in the 22 games he's played since returning from the turf toe injury he suffered earlier in the season. As Kelly Dwyer noted, "turf toe, the injury which quietly ruins your whole season".

Granted, Butler's opportunities for easy points were amplified by the number of transition plays the Bulls ran due to all of the San Antonio turnovers. I'm not going to go so far to say Butler's in a shooting rhythm. Still, it was the first time he posted back to back games with over 40% shooting from the field since his injury.

Kicking off the Ice Capades trip with a win

The Bulls started a long road Western Conference road trip against the Spurs, and overall, have a much tougher second half to their season than first. However, it was nice to get out of this game with a win.

Chicago will face the Pelicans, Kings, Suns, Warriors, and Lakers on the rest of the trip. The Bulls should probably only be favored against the Kings and Lakers, but if the pull off those two wins, I'll find it hard to complain about a three and three road trip.

The overly odd Charlotte pick question

Do you root for Charlotte to win? To lose? Hard to say.

The Bobcats are presently in eighth place in the East which would land the Bulls the 15th pick in the NBA draft. Nothing particularly special, but in a strong draft class, Chicago might get a quality role player or even a starting caliber player with a little luck.

However, right behind the Bobcats are the Knicks and Pistons, if one of them were to pass Charlotte, then the Bobcats would presently fall to 10th which would give the Bulls no draft choice at all. The pick would then be deferred for another season.

However, the Bobcats would only be in 10th by percentage points against the Pelicans meaning, they could easily fall to 11th which would give the Bulls the highest pick possible in this year under the protection scheme.

I'll take 11th in this draft over deferring for sure. I might even take 15th over deferring, but that's a bit dicier as there's no guarantee the East will improve enough for the Bobcats to miss the playoffs again next year to give the Bulls a better pick, and it's more likely than not the talent pool will be less.

Will be interesting to see what happens, my guess is the Bobcats fail to make the playoffs. With the big question being whether or not they manage to avoid the top 10 protection.

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  • Good win for the Bulls and Butler was a huge part of it. He was scoring, stealing, blocking and shutting Tony Parker down on D. Just excellent all around.

    Jimmy Butler was never in a slump, he was playing hurt. At the same time his shooting was down he was also playing below the rim, settling for jumpers, losing on loose balls, getting beat 1v1 by quick wings, and - probably most telling - trailing Boozer in transition. It was so obvious he wasn't 100%. It just bugs the crap out of me when people act like Jimmy's struggles were some kind of mystery or even an indication he's taken some kind of step backward.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    I agree with you that he was playing hurt, but it was still hard to watch, especially since he doesn't look injured, and was still playing a ton of minutes. Last night was the first time in a while that he looked like he had any lift in his legs, in fact I've been thinking of bestowing a new nickname on him Jimmy "Medusa Legs" Butler. Lately he looked like he couldn't score at the rim even if he was guarded by Mugsy Bouges.

    Turf toe is a mysterious injury that you never really know when it will come or go. One game isn't going to prove anything, but hopefully he is getting over it and we can see a return to what he was at the end of last season and in the playoffs.

  • Let's say the Bobcats do end up with a good enough record to give the Bulls the 11th pick in this year's draft, who do you all think would be the best pick and 'more than likely' available at that spot, and would be the best pick for the Bulls? Jerami Grant? Gary Harris?

    What if the Bulls get the 12th, 13th, 14th, or even 15th pick this year? Should they draft for need, best player available?

  • In reply to EDouble:

    In that case, they should try to trade both picks and Dunleavy to move up to #5! Unless the team scouts have found a couple of real values with the lower picks.

    In fact, if they could land a top 5, I might even trade Taj to move up, which would mean they could offer Lance $10 million and bring over Mirotic. Then they could be contenders next season.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Probably unlikely that they can move up that high.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yea, as I've mentioned Utah got the 9th pick from Minny for a pick in the low/mid teens(I believe) and one in the low 20's and that was in a draft that everybody thought was crappy. So if the Cats make the playoffs there is no way for us to get into the top ten with our pick and theirs. Unless the Pellicans lose Davis for the season, they are not going to have a worse record that the Cats so if the Cats fall out of the playoffs we won't get the pick. In any event I'm still dreaming/praying that we could find a way to leverage our pick into Dario Saric, who will go 6-10.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Well, I was responding to EDouble, who asked what the Bulls should do if they get the 11th, 12th, or etc from Charlotte this year.

    Don't you think with trading the 11th, 18th, and Taj the Bulls could move up to 5th or 6th? I do not know that they should, only that it seems reasonable. Whether they would try that trade would depend on the scouts, I would think.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    People/teams always overvalue draft picks, especially before the draft, so I would bet, especially in this draft that even that haul would not get you the 5th or 6th pick, i.e. either Randle or Exum or maybe Saric at this point. It is the superstar vs a bunch of role players dilema. As a Bulls fan that would seem like a lot to give up for a maybe. I would do the 2 picks, but not include Taj, I might consider Taj and one of the picks, but Mirotic and Taj is a real nice power forward mix. Now if we were getting Embiid or maybe Wiggins that would be a different story.

  • In reply to EDouble:

    Rodney Hood

  • A terrific team effort. As much as I dislike Boozer, I thought he was the difference maker early in the first quarter. He was also solid in the second half. Without his presence on the boards, including two huge putbacks, the game could have been much closer. Of course. It helped that Duncan was hobbling (per Doug Collins) and Splitter was out.
    If over the past four years Boozer could have played like this consistently against good teams, and during the playoffs, he would have earned his ridiculous paycheck.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    and "If" I were perfectly clairvoyant I would win the lottery every week, among other things. Why bother even having that thought after 4 years of the same thing over and over and over again.

  • Noah has just defined a new position: Point Center. How much better the offense flows when he is in the game.

  • Sometimes I'm a huge fan of Noah, like the last few weeks. But, sometimes, when the Bulls have trouble scoring I'm not such a fan... he provides little offense, although he is probably the best passing center in today's game. If not #1, he's up there.

  • In reply to Granby:

    If your definition of little offense is 11 PPG then you are correct. I wonder what the average PPG is for centers in todays game, I doubt that it is very high. Boozer, whose only reason for existence is to provide offense averages a whopping 2 buckets more per game, and the Bulls lose his better offensive games more often than not. You don't need to get everything from every player. Would we all love for Noah to be an offensive force on top of everything else, yes we would, but then he'd be Wilt or at least Bill Russell and the Bulls would have already won at least one championship.

    I don't know how much longer Noah is going to last, but right now how many centers in the league are more valuable to their teams.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Great post- to say Noah provides "little offense" is 100% inaccurate. Little scoring, maybe you can get by with- but on a horrible offensive team, Noah is averaging over 5 assists a game since Deng left. I don't think you can put a value on setting up non-scoring teammates for easy baskets, and Noah is the best big man in the game at doing just that.

    Like you said, if Noah were a scoring force, he'd be 1st Team All NBA every year. As it is, I'll take him over any center in the league for this team and for Thibs' coaching style.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Noah may not be putting huge PPGs, but he's a great passer, great on the offensive glass, and I read an analysis that concluded that he's the best screensetter in the NBA. I'd have thought that would actually make him a very good offensive center, if only his teammates were a little better at putting the ball in the basket (which I guess would lower his offensive rebounding numbers a bit, but whatever).

    I know people are worried he'll fall off a cliff as he gets older and loses some athleticism, so I can understand when someone suggests trading him before that happens, but I've never understood calls for trading him so we can open up a spot for a center with "more offensive talent." Jo's so good defensively, and seems to be rather good offensively *without the ball*—that has to be really valuable, right? If we ever get that great (or just pretty good) shooting guard, I have to think that Jo is going to be a better fit than Brook Lopez, for instance.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bill Russell? He averaged 12.8 points/36 (in an era when his teams were averaging 110-120 points a game) on 47.1 TS%. Giving Noah Bill Russell's offense would be a downgrade on that end.

  • I can't see the Bulls getting the 11th pick. If you're Charlotte and find yourself out of the playoffs late in the season, you go into tank mode. You do anything you can to not end up at 11.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Certainly, but every other team in that position in the standings would be going into tank mode as well, right?

  • In reply to Roman F:

    It's a pretty fine line. You're probably doing eveyrthing you can to make the playoffs, but if you fall out by one game and 9th in the East is 11th then what?

    Right now, it's the case that 9th in the East is 10th. The main thing that would need to happen for them to finish 11th is a western conference team needs to get worse.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Again the only hope for that to happen is for Anthony Davis to miss the rest of the season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Basically, as Bulls fans we are rooting for the perfect threading of the needle or the needle in a haystack, Charlotte getting exactly the 11th pick. The odds of that happening exactly are probably not much better than the odds of the Bulls winning the title this season.

  • Rising Stars Challenge (rookie-sophomore) roster was announced. No Tony Snell (no. 20), but Tim Hardaway, Jr. (no. 24) and Mason Plumlee (no. 22) were chosen.

    Haven't watched Hardway play, but comparing his stats with Snell's is a bit depressing. Just from stats it appears Hardaway may become a legit NBA starter. Anyone watch many Knicks games this season?

  • In reply to Edward:

    Only when I am in the mood for comedy.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I have seen the Knicks a few times. I also saw Hardaway quite a bit in college. He is much more assertive/aggressive on the court than Snell. Although he doesn't have the length/wingspan of Snell, and perhaps his stroke is not as fluid, Hardaway may have the personal intangibles that Snell lacks to succeed in the NBA.

    FWIW, I thought Mason Plumlee was the logical choice in the draft. Much more athletic than his brother and his brother is no slouch. Miles is a starting center on a winning team in the Western Conf. For some reason, many fans thought Mason was a stiff or just that they hated Duke.

  • I've seen a few knick games and Hardaway looks better compared to tony snell, he's stronger and more assertive, he's looking to SCORE. He was rated better than Snell and it shows. The Bulls FO does generally well in drafts but they do miss, think james johnson and marquis teague but I do like the fact they react quickly and get rid of the busts. Tony Snell is seeing less and less minutes, he needs to get more aggressive to win back Thibodeau's trust.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    That was always my problem with Snell, as Bill Parcels used to say you can't teach personality or change them. Guys are what they are, and if Snell is a mope a dope type personality like Teague, then that is what he is and he will never become a difference maker for the Bulls.

    I can't say for sure right now, but it seems to me that there is a least a 50/50 likelihood that he is indeed a mope a dope. I really don't see that fire in the belly that will translate into the will to put in the work of the floor and the intensity on the court. We may not know for sure by the end of this season, but by the end of next it should be fairly obvious.

  • Think they passed on Hardaway because they thought Jimmy B was gonna be a 2 and that they could sign Deng to an extension. I could also see that they saw Snell developing into a better defender than Hardaway. Its still early in their careers lets not over react yet.

  • If Hardaway was a Bull, he most likely wouldn't be playing much more than Snell. Thibs hates rookies.

    Does anyone remember bitching about the Bulls taking Mirotic #23 instead of MarShon Brooks at #25, and then we wound up with Butler at #30 instead? When Brooks averaged 12.6 pts/game as a rookie while Butler never played, GarPax were complete idiots.

    Maybe Hardaway winds up being the better NBA player, but to try and judge the two now is just laughable in my opinion.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Thibs doesn't hate rookies, he just preferences winning the current game over all else. If he got a rookie who was one of the best players on the team he'd have them in the high 30s for minutes per game. It's just most players aren't very good in their first season (especially where the Bulls have been picking from), so he doesn't give them much time.

    If Mirotic comes in and is as good as Bulls fans hope he is I bet he gets a ton of minutes straight away.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    I know he doesn't hate rookies, I was just making a joke about how so many people complain that he doesn't spend a lot of time trying to develop them- which as you said, why would he? We're trying to win games and championships, not develop rookies.

    And I'm with you, I'm sure if Mirotic comes over next season, he'll get more minutes than any rookie Thibs has ever coached.

  • Both Hardaway and Snell are averaging an identical 19 mpg.
    I didn't pass judgment, I simply took a quick look at their stats upon release of the Rookie-Sophomore rosters: What stood out for me were the shooting percentages:

    FG% 3pt% FT%
    46% 41% 82% Hardaway
    37% 32% 71% Snell

    Sometimes players can play more on a poor team and have a higher ppg, but those points often come inefficiently (poor or very average shooting %). That's not the case with Hardaway, it appears Hardaway can really shoot.

  • In reply to Edward:

    The thing is, those shooting percentages don't mean a whole lot, they are for 1/2 of a season.

    Hardaway had a great December (15 games), the rest of the season he is shooting .369 on 3's and 43.8% overall (29 games).

    Snell had a lousy December (14 games), but the rest of the season he is shooting .358 on 3's and 41.0% overall (25 games).

    If each player ends the year with their current shooting percentages, it'll mean a little more- but not much. The league is full of guys who never got much (if any) better after their rookie seasons.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    "If each player ends the year with their current shooting percentages, it'll mean a little more-but not much."

    A little more, but not much? What world are you living in where a 41% 3pt shooter isn't much better than a 32% 3pt shooter? The queen of meaningless statistical analysis strikes again.

    The point is Hardaway can clearly shoot very well.
    It's only one game against a crap team (Cleveland), but last night Hardaway scored 29 points on 11-17 shooting (6-12 on 3s).

  • In reply to Edward:

    Can you read plain English?

    Hardaway can clearly shoot well FOR 1/2 OF AN NBA SEASON. I'm not going to waste my time listing all the guys who shot well for ONE NBA SEASON. Which Hardaway hasn't even done yet.

    Jimmy Butler shot 47% last season, 38% on 3's. What's he doing this year?

    You're more than welcome to judge a player's future career off of his first 45 NBA games, though, be my guest.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Paducah Pud, You're the one who cannot read English.
    Nobody was judging a player's future career off their first 45 games. My post was regarding the selection of the Rookie-Sophomore rosters for All-Star weekend - and yes, those selections do judge a rookie's first half season, that's what they're supposed to do.

    Hardaway was chosen, Snell was not. I noticed Hardaway's compelling shooting percentages as compared to Snell's, and so apparently did the people who select the Rookie-Sophomore rosters. If you disagree with the selections or their process, you can take it up with them.

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