The Chicago Bulls pulled into a three way tie with the Wizards and Raptors for fourth in the East. They reached the .500 mark for the first time since the Rose injury by barely skating past the horrific Lakers.
It's hard to know what to think of the Bulls sometimes. They're 8-2 in their last 10 games which certainly seems like a team on a roll, but the schedule has been pathetically easy and both losses still came to a pedestrian Wizards team. On top of that, they've recently needed triple overtime and overtime to beat the Magic and Lakers, two of the worst teams in the NBA.
That said, they're still grinding out wins, and I think even the hardest of tankers has to cheer at least a little bit on the inside when Taj Gibson caught the out of bounds pass and went straight up for a layup. It didn't seem like there was nearly enough time to get that shot off, I suspect the clock may have started a shade late.
Either way, he was clear well before the red light went on, and the Bulls exited the building with a win.
Joakim Noah played part hero and part goat in the game. His bullet bounce pass between two Lakers to Jimmy Butler with seven seconds left gave the Bulls the lead, but he missed one of two free throws that could have put the Bulls up by four. He then fouled [dicey call it may have been], Nick Young from 30 feet away while in the act of shooting to allow the Lakers to bring the game to OT after three straight FT makes by Young.
In the overtime, he just shut down Gasol, forcing multiple turnovers and stifling the offense every time the ball went into him though and was key to the Bulls defensive effort.
The Bulls overtime was won by Gibson and Augustin, who combined for all of the Bulls nine points.
Hinrich leaves the game with a hamstring injury
If Kirk's injury keeps him out of the game then Mike James is likely to get a call back to re-join the team. The Bulls should complete the Marquis Teague trade today and are down to one healthy PG on the roster [Augustin]. James played with the team at the start of the season and tail end of last season. He knows the system, can create a little bit, and occasionally get hot from beyond the arc.
Not much of a ball distributor though.
As for Augustin, his decision to pick Chicago certainly looks like it will pay off well for him. He's played well for Chicago, and I'd be surprised if the Bulls didn't at least extend him a minimum contract next season. That said, the Bulls might not have much more than the minimum to offer, and Augustin, much like Nate Robinson, likely has played his way out of a minimum salary offer.
We'll see if the Bulls can hang on to him.
If Hinrich misses an extended period of time, then I'll be curious to see what happens with the team. How importan is Kirk? It's hard to say. He plays hard, but his PER is sub 10, and his tS% is 46.8%, both truly, truly awful numbers. I'm not sure Mike James is much of a downgrade even if Hinrich brings everything he has every night. Everything he has just isn't that much anymore.
Any tankers left?
I look at this season like this: Don't finish 7th or 8th in the East. You either get to the playoffs as the sixth or better seed or miss them. You don't want to get a 1st round beat down though. I was originally hoping to finish around 12th in the East, but that seems pretty unlikely now. The Bulls, even post Deng trade, look like they'll easily make the playoffs.
The Pistons are four games back on the Bulls and given their winning percentage that's actually a pretty significant gap to try to make up. It could change by a mere hot streak by the Pistons, and the Bulls actually have one of the tougher schedules remaining in the East, so we'll see what happens.
After losing Deng to trade, possibly Hinrich to injury, the Bulls depth is perilously thin. They're probably a Noah/Gibson injury away from falling off a cliff, but if guys stay healthy for the next 42 games, then the Bulls are probably going to hang on to a 6th place or better finish.
Derrick Rose warming up in pre-game
Not a huge fan of the speculation this will cause, and I'm not sure I see the point. He can obviously warm up shooting a basketball 24/7 if he likes and certainly has plenty of places to do it. Why warm up at the United Center in pre-game? Feels like a guy trying to keep some attention on himself, same with the sitting on the bench.
I'm all for this if he actually comes back this season, and maybe Derrick Rose has the full intention of coming back this season. I have no idea. However, if he doesn't, this type of thing will further erode the public opinion of him, and I sometimes think Rose is oblivious to how the rest of the world views him.
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