It's no secret that I'm not a particular fan of how Kirk Hinrich is used on this Bulls team. It's not that he's a bad guy or even a horrendously bad player. At this point in his career, he's not a big minute player which is fine because he's not paid like one either. However, he somehow has the trust of management and the coaching staff regardless of what gaffes he makes.
Last night, he lost the game for the Bulls. Flat out lost it. Bulls win if it's not for Kirk Hinrich making an idiotic foul on Monte Ellis. There's no excuse, no wondering whether the ref should have called it. Ellis didn't go up after he felt contact but was already in mid jump when Kirk grabbed him.
Beyond the fact that it was a legit foul, it was an obvious situation where Monte was going to go up. There was no question that he was legitimately going to shoot there, there's no reason to even attempt a foul at this point. Besides the fact that he's well off the three point line, not a great three point shooter, and Pau Gasol is there to block the shot anyway, you simply have to know he's shooting because the clock is about to expire and he needs to get a shot off.
It's one of the dumbest, most boneheaded plays I've ever seen by a guy who's supposed to be in there to make smart plays for you. Dirk Nowitzki apparently agrees:
"In my 17 years, it was one of the dumber fouls I've ever seen," Nowitzki said in a matter-of-fact tone. "You wait all the way until he dribbles to the 3-point line to grab him, so that's obviously a tough one, tough play. I saw coach [Tom] Thibodeau was just shaking his head."
You know a play is bad, when the mild mannered Nowitzki starts trash talking you over it.
Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?
The Bulls did enough to beat the Mavericks, so for that I feel pretty good. They tightened up atrocious first half defense, hit key shots down the stretch and played well enough to beat an elite team except for Hinrich's gaff.
They did so while really getting a fairly poor performance from their three main offensive options. Pau Gasol scored 29, but it took him 27 possessions and three turnovers to do so. Rose had 18 and 10 assists on 22 possessions with seven turnovers. Butler 23 with 24 possessions.
Overall, not an efficient night for your big three. However, the rest of the crew all chipped in with efficient offense (even Hinrich whom I blasted above), and the Bulls found ways to score efficiently despite their main guys struggling a bit.
They largely contained Dirk for most of the game, forcing him into a fairly pedestrian night, and Monta Ellis got loose for 38, but it took him 37 possessions to get there which means he was defended pretty well.
Beyond Hinrich's idiocy, the Bulls also likely win the game if Ellis doesn't drill a defended three from three steps beyond the three point line. Given Ellis is a fairly lousy three point shooter, and that was a much more difficult three than normal, you take your chances with that look and walk out of the building winning six out of seven times.
In many ways it was a tough loss for Chicago, but given the East is so bad, their record is somewhat irrelevant. I'm just hoping for improved continuity, improved health, and for guys to find the right gear by playoff time.
The good new for Chicago is they did enough to potentially win against an elite team while not playing really good basketball. The Bulls haven't played a lot of good basketball this year and still sit at 11-7. I think I've seen maybe three total halves of basketball where I felt the team really peaked.
Unlike previous seasons, this team has head room to find another gear in the playoffs and isn't beating teams by outworking and out hustling them. They're winning by out talenting them.
Derrick Rose plays 37 minutes, finishes game
Maybe I shouldn't be so happy about it, but Derrick Rose played 37 minutes and finished the game without injurying himself. Yeah, it's not a high bar to set, but for Rose that's been somewhat of a challenge. Those are real game minutes for a star player and not double OT minutes, but it's more than he's done.
He's now completed three straight games, and we can begin to hope that his current injury woes are behind us. Derrick still looks like he's going at half speed to me. Either that, or he's still playing hurt. Personally, I think he's scared to go full speed still.
Watching Russell Westbrook come back and annihilate people immediately makes me a bit jealous. Rose comes back and dips his toe in the water like a kid at swim lessons for the first time. Of his 20 shots, 11 of them were threes. He's not really looking to create off the dribble a whole lot, he's not pushing the ball in transition a whole lot, and effectively he's not giving you a whole lot of what want out of Derrick Rose.
It's not panic time yet with Rose. I figure he's still got the superstar in him. We saw it against New York, we saw it a bit against Detroit/Toronto. We've seen him this year cruise past guys in transition and off the dribble in dominant fashion. I suspect he's just overly cautious right now.
If he's still playing this way in March then perhaps we have a problem, but for now, I'm happy to see his minutes up and him finishing games.
Joakim sprained his ankle, but returned to the game. Hopefully it doesn't swell up on him too badly today.
Nikola Mirotic is a bad ass, and the Bulls need to find a way to keep him playing when Gibson returns.
Doug McDermott was inactive for the game with a knee injury which he deemed "very minor".
The Bulls will have to travel to Charlotte for a game today. That's a game you'd expect them to win normally, but will be much tougher on a back to back after a double OT and travel thrown in.
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