Rose stars, but Washington rips Bulls again

Rose stars, but Washington rips Bulls again

Derrick Rose had perhaps his best game since the ACL surgery, but it wasn't enough for the Bulls to beat the Washington Wizards.

Rose scored 32 points on 12-22 from the field. He was six of nine from beyond the arc including a half court heave buzzer beater to end the first quarter. It was nice to see Rose shoot the ball so well, but he's still far away from the player he was.

He drove to the basket some, but he's still not getting their with the routine ease that he used to which isn't devastating the opposing defense the way it would in the past. It's great when he has a big scoring night, but I didn't walk away from this game feeling like the performance was sustainable.

He still didn't look physically dominant by any stretch. That's not ripping on Derrick for his play, he played great. I just don't expect it to lead to much over the next few games as the start of Derrick being Derrick.

Is Jimmy Butler who we thought he was in September or December?

The answer is probably somewhere in between.

Butler's struggling through a fairly awful January. His three point percentage for the month is up to 39.4%, but everything is awful. His overall percentage is down to 36.4% from the field, and he's no longer getting foul calls.

Recently, I've seen Jimmy take a lot less close mid range jumpers. He's replaced the post turn around move from 10 feet out with an off the dribble step back 20 footer. The result hasn't been good.

When driving, I think the refs are onto him a bit and not buying all of his flopping moves. He made it to the line a ton early, but a bunch of those were fairly dicey calls. He's not getting those calls so far this month.

Butler's going to need to work his mid range shot back closer to the basket and finish better at the rim to get back to the player he was. The league adjusted to him, and now he needs to adjust back.

I think it may be the case that Butler is hurt considerably by not having Mike Dunleavy spacing the heck out of the floor next to him as well. This gets back to the point I've made frequently about guys who create space without the ball and how much value they bring.

Dunleavy is a shooter teams fear, guys like Afflalo or Chandler are shooters teams leave and hope they don't get hurt too bad if they do. Dunleavy creates space and kills you if left open, those other guys just hurt you if left open.

The Nov/Dec version of Jimmy Butler makes the Bulls contenders. The January version does not. Hopefully it's as simple as Butler making a couple of adjustments and Dunleavy's return to get back to that earlier version of Jimmy.

Pau Gasol flounders again

You know I've never been that fond of Pau Gasol on this blog. His big offensive performances can really help carry Chicago, and when he has the right match up, he's still a beast offensively.

His rebounding numbers look in line and are right where they should be. His contract isn't bad, and is in fact quite a bargain. I can't complain about it. In fact, overall, the signing has been a glorious success relative to the other options the Bulls may have realistically pursued.

It seriously was likely the best move the Bulls could have made this year most likely in the off-season given that Melo is out/needs surgery/was playing badly and Lance Stephenson has stunk up the court.

That said, when he has to go against legit quality big men, we often see nights like last night. Nights where the Bulls lose the battle on the boards too much and opponents mow Chicago down in the paint. He's late on his rotations and doesn't get out to cover jump shooters.

With Jo spraining his ankle on the last play of the second quarter and not returning, the Bulls didn't have much choice but to go with Gasol for a ton of minutes. There aren't better options, but Gasol went off on the Bulls lack of effort defensively against Orlando.

It reminds me a lot of when Nocioni and Deng complained about people not sharing the ball while having the lowest assist rates on the team.

I love and appreciate the signing of Pau for the money, but I wonder if we get to the playoffs and he's a Boozer. A guy who can't win match ups against good players who kills you on defense while also pushing our best defensive player into a role he doesn't play well.

I'd like the signing of Pau quite a bit more if the Bulls busted up the Joakim/Gasol tandem for more minutes.

Joakim Noah goes down with an ankle issue

As long as the injury isn't related to his knee, this might actually end up being a good thing for Noah. Joakim hasn't looked like himself physically and if he has to miss a couple weeks to heal up his ankle then perhaps his knee gets a chance to calm down as well.

You can love Noah because he'll play through anything, but a guy playing hurt isn't the same as a guy playing healthy. I appreciate that in the playoffs Noah will give the Bulls everything he has regardless, but in the regular season with a deep front court the Bulls can sustain his loss for awhile.

My only hope is that he doesn't rush back from whatever is going on. I think Noah's injuries combined with his age and likely questionable diet/off-season workout habits may have caught up to him. It may be the case that we simply don't see the player we saw last year again.

Joakim's been one of my favorites since before it was cool, since before the Bulls drafted him. However, I think there's a good chance that his best basketball is behind him even if it was just a year ago. That whatever they did to his knee was just stole a bit too much athleticism.

I'm hoping that isn't the case and that some rest will bring him back reinvigorated.

More Mirotic please

His numbers shooting percentages haven't always been great, but Mirotic is finding ways to score, and the team just feels like it plays better with him out there.

His biggest problem on the floor is clearly decisiveness on offense. He doesn't quite have the confidence of a true three point shooter yet and will frequently wait for the defense to close out when he should be taking the three or starting his dribble drive move.

That moment's hesitation he has is something that will only get beaten out of him with more playing time and once it does then watch out.

Nikola already impacts the game in a positive way the vast majority of the time he's out there. He's occasionally got his head turned on defense or gives up a bad play, but his effort and energy level are consistently there and often seem better than the rest of the Bulls big men.

If Joakim is down for any extended period of time then finding Mirotic more minutes won't be much of a problem.

Tony Snell looks like an NBA player

Snell was just three of nine from the field and 1/5 from beyond the arc, but despite the poor numbers his play actually looks much better to me on the court.

His defensive decision making has improved, and he's playing with energy. He doesn't seem to hesitate as much as he did earlier and looks to pass or shoot more quickly.

Maybe there's still some hope for Snell to become a Keith Bogans type of guy who can hang in the league to hit wide open threes and play defense.

I really wish he weren't playing so many minutes lately as I think Chicago's ultra big lineup was helping them more than Snell playing so much, but I do notice and appreciate an improvement in is overall play level even if it isn't necessarily showing up with great box score numbers.

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  • Maybe Jimmy's not in the game mentally. In the 6 games since his leave of bereavement he has shot 32% on 14.5ppg. The 6 games prior he shot 50% on 23ppg. Maybe he's having a hard time, It's understandable if that's the case or maybe it's just the minutes catching up to him.

    Joakim had a big drop in performence last year when his HS coach passed. That could have been his knees though.

    We'll just have to wait and see what's up but it's too soon to jump to conclusions.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    If you lose someone you love, that can be devastating psychologically - and that can affect your work! Is that it with Butler? How can we know for sure, but it could be.

    Glad to see Snell getting more court time.

    Doug, do you actually think Dunleavy is a better SF than Afflalo? Of course Afflalo would probably play SG for the Bulls, Jimmy moving to SF. Afflalo scores twice what Dunleavy does. I don't think Dunleavy was signed to be a starter.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    No, I don't think Dunleavy is better than Afflalo, but I think he might help the Bulls more than Afflalo.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Does anyone know who exactly Butler lost, I haven't seen news about it. His decline has also more or less coincided with Dunleavy's injury, and more so after Thibs gave up on the Mirotic at SF experiment.

    Of course Thibs really does suck at matchup management, its part of his do your job, next man up mantra. He simply doesn't react to matchup problems or seem to care, thinking that it is all about effort.

    Last night being a perfect example. Butler simply cannot keep up with Bradley Beal, it was obvious in the playoffs last season and during the 2 games in the past week. On top of that Jimmy seemed to have problems attacking 99 year old Paul Pierce on the offensive end, while Snell on Pierce didn't seem like a good matchup for the Bulls either.

    I don't how Snell would have faired against Beal, but he might have been better suited to the constant chasing around screens and Butler would have been better suited on the more physical Pierce who ended up with 22 points last night with Snell as his primary defender.

    I was all over the Bultler/Beal mismatch in last years playoffs, I just cannot believe that someone on the Bulls coaching staff hasn't caught on yet, maybe Ron Adams did. Didn't GS wax the Wiz pretty easily a couple of weeks ago.

  • Starting to get a bad vibe from this team. Thibs looked more manic than usual and once again got outcoached by a calmer Randy Wittman. Players don't seem to be on the same page. Jimmy Butler has returned to the disappointing Jimmy Butler of last year which was why he wasn't given a max extension. Defensively Gasol is soft. Overall they look like a team that has finally tuned out Thibs. Even when the Bulls had injuries the last few years they always put out a strong defensive effort. They just don't seem to have the intensity any more. I really think this will be Thibs' last run in Chicago.

    And BTW, since buying NBA League Pass so my son can watch Bulls games at college the Bulls are 1-4.

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    When it comes to Butler...I told you so! The players in the league do not take well to a player getting so much hype for 20 games played......I like to call this the league giving the Butler the Jeremy Lin.....people talking MVP consideration....its Butler's team etc etc.... the league will now guard him...they havent even started to double him and people were acting like he was the savior! The positive is if Rose is coming out of the slump Butler can now start to play well again because the other team will focus on they before!

  • In reply to Ron Webb:

    The Jeremy Lin comparison is spot on.

  • In reply to Ron Webb:

    The MVP talk was ludicrous, and a lot of, Doug included have been watching all season with the expectation that Butler would revert back to his mean, which might be what it happening now. However, Doug is right that Butler is not playing the same game as he was earlier, he is much more passive, and maybe the league and the refs have figured out his drive which too me always looked clumsy in a Bull in a China shop way.

  • In reply to Ron Webb:

    I agree with you on that. I also think when Dunleavy and possibly McD ( if he can get it going ) comes back, that will definitely help Butler out a lot. Jimmy's not really a scorer like people want to believe, and he cannot be your teams primary offensive weapon. However he can score when he's playing with better offensive weapons and teams kind of forget about him. A lot of the success he seen early on in the season was all will, and he caught the league by surprise. Now he's got teams attention and they know how to guard him. I do think he's in a bit of a funk now and he seems like he's a little distracted. I this is the year he's supposed to bet on himself but right now the best thing he can do for the team is doing what he does best, and that's playing defense.

  • Looks like GarPax made the right decision regarding Butler's extension, as he is currently playing himself out of a max contract. I do agree Dunleavy probably does have some impact on Jimmy's current play, but either way, a max contract guy's game shouldn't live or die by Mike Dunleavy.

    It seemed like Noah was playing with a bit more energy last night before the ankle injury, so maybe a few games off can improve his overall health, and allow him to hit the ground running in a few weeks.

    It's was nice to see Rose have a decent game, but I agree with Doug in that it wasn't necessarily a dominate performance, but more like a Kevin Love type performance. I suppose as long as Rose can continue producing similar results on a somewhat consistent basis, then the Bulls probably don't need elite MVP Rose long as his game doesn't disrupt the natural flow of the offense. And of course the other guys will need to make meaningful contributions as well.

    It's hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel with this team right now. The potential is there, but the execution is severely lacking. You almost get the feeling the team is starting to tune out Thibs, and his "more than enough to win" mantra. I'm not overly siked about the squad right now. Washington is dominating the Bulls, and I have to assume Atlanta will dominate as well. The way they are playing right now, you can't even feel real good about a first round playoff matchup with Milwaukee or Cleveland.

    What can you really do though, except hope they can play through these struggles, and figure their crap out before the post-season.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    Butler's still going to get the max next season.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    While I agree that it is highly likely if not almost a certainty, if plays the entire rest of the season the way he has played the last couple of weeks then he might not. Will the real Jimmy Butler please stand up.

  • Two comments: 1) it is my impression that Jimmy plays better when Rose is out. He seems to defer to him when Rose is active and playing well. This lack of aggressiveness is apparent to me. It is unusual for both of them to have great games on the same night like Curry/Thompson often do. Perhaps the numbers don't back this up but that is my strong impression.

    2) yes, Snell was more assertive but still was awful. Whether he was guarding either Beal or Pierce he got easily picked-off leaving the shooter with an open look. As Doug indicated, on offense the Wiz perimeter defenders played him "soft" and he rarely made them pay. IMO, the only saving grace for Snell starting is that Hinrich is not playing.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    To clarify the Snell comment, Doug indicated that teams fear Dunleavy's shooting prowess, they don't fear Snell. As a result, a perimeter player is more likely to leave him to double or trap Butler and Rose.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Agree with you on both points, especially that anything is better than Hangdog, even the somnambulant one. His 3 point shot looks more like a wing and a prayer than a real attempt at making a shot, but his drives to the hoop can look promising at times.

    However, it was Butler who was getting picked off constantly chasing Beal around picks(at least 95% of the time). As I said above, I'm not sure that Snell could do the job on Beal any better, but we now have better than 7 straight games(last years playoffs and 2 games this season) of proof that Butler simply cannot do so. Also, its probably not worth wearing Butler out by chasing a guy around picks every minute that he is in the game. Snell on Pierce(22 points) also didn't seem like a good matchup for the Bulls. More Thibs being Thibs, especially since the Wiz went with the opposite matchups, putting Pierce on Butler and Beal on Snell.

  • Amazing how fast the tide turns around here. 5 games ago the bulls were sure thing contenders, now it's time to break them up. It's a rough spot in January for a team still coming together.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    No one is suggesting the team should be blown up, but they have had a major drop-off in play this month, and for no apparent reason. Bulls continue to lose home games against all levels of teams, and can't seem to play hard for an entire game. Likely they will eventually work their way out of the slump, but who can say for sure. At this point, us fans are just tempering our expectations.

    The truth is, even in December they weren't crushing most teams, often winning by a narrow margin. Opponents have become well versed in this team's weaknesses, and are doing a fantastic job of exploiting said weaknesses. The FO should make a serious play for a guy like Afflalo, who can focus on providing high level offense at the 2-spot, enabling Butler to move back to the SF position where he can focus on defense, and not worry so much about a heavy offensive contribution.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    very true

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Well, some of us never bought into the fools gold, but we were castigated for our negativity. I prefer to call it being a brutal realist rather than a pollyanna eyed optimist.

  • I was impressed with Snell in the first quarter. Thought that maybe he just needs playing time and he can contribute. But then he disappeared in the second half and I'm back to believing that he is a spot minutes guy.
    The real problem for this team, in my mind, is the defense. It is horrible! This team can not win a championship with this defense. Don't the numbers say that no team has won without a top 10 defense? If the Bulls want to win, they need to make a move to improve the defense.

  • I see Klank garnered nearly 20 minutes of NBA floor time last night going 0-2 with 1 rebound. Yess!! Where are you now haters?? Keep the faith Thibsy.

    And Derrick Rose who by sheer probability for once hit some volume threes though inconveniently at .27% season shooting on five launches a game. Efficient i.e. winning basketball be damned.

    Oh, and Kudos for a team defense that gives Washington a hard time.. deciding who should score next. Thibs you are COY material once again. Meaning as with most coach of the year winners you will be fired likely sometime before next Christmas by Gar/Pax. Happy holidays.

  • Although Hinrich's offensive output remains consistently inconsistent, he appears to have fallen of the cliff defensively as well from prior years. As long as Kirk is under contract, he should be relegated to the end of the bench, and only brought up in emergency situations in which the team is likely to lose anyway.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    I have always liked Doug Collins on NBA broadcasts. But when he called Hinrich "underrated" I thought I was living in an alternative universe. Just like GarPax they see Kirk, circa 2007, not Klank 2015.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I agree about Collins, always liked him, but he was really out of his mind last night on a number of occasions.

    Late in the 4rth quarter he criticized Rose for blowing a coverage on Paul Pierce at the 3 point line which resulted in a 3 point dagger that pretty much sealed the Bulls fate. What he missed was one of the funniest Hangdog maneuvers of all time. Basically Hangdog got completely lost on a switch outside(with Rose) and like a pilot flying blind at night dove into the lane and literally got stuck in Gasol's jock strap with no Wizards insight, leaving Rose stuck at the 3 point line with 2 guys to guard. He looked like a little kid playing spin the bottle when he finally got out of Gasol's jock strap and figured out what had happened making a belated fake attempt to run out to the 3 point line. His gaff was so bad that Thibs had to call a timeout and he actually removed the dog and replaced him with Brooks. Maybe even Thibs is starting to figure out how truly useless the POSdog has become, and thats just on defense.

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    In reply to BigWay:

    THANK YOU! I was wondering what in the world Collins was talking about!

  • This team is still learning to play together and find roles. I am convinced that Derrick has just decided that he is going to play conservatively and not get hurt until the spring when he will go 100% and push it. His comments say as much. Butler is realizing the demands of being an all-star level player. Mirotic is figuring out the NBA. McDermott is obviously out. I don't think this team is fundamentally flawed, it is just going through some growing pains. I personally think next year is our year, but maybe they can figure it out in March and hit April at peak form.

  • I realize Hinrich is logging more minutes with Dunleavy out but if Klank is getting 20 minutes or more per night, then the Bulls need another player. This is where an Afflalo would really help, not just by replacing Dunleavy as a starter, but by pushing Kirk to the end of the bench, though Thibs will probably use him 20+ minutes anyways.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Dunleavy was playing 29 minutes a game, I don't see Afflalo as playing so many more minutes than that. It's unlikely he'd send anyone anywhere.

  • the problem is the Bulls have lost their Defense and Rebounding identity. Before the Bulls could count on the defense to keep them in games, not anymore, teams are scoring at will against the Bulls. Look we have offense problems with a strong need of another scoring wing but with no defense identity and intensity, forget it, this team is going nowhere.

  • What pisses me off about Hinrich is that GarPax signed him for not 1 but 2 years. So he will logging undeserved minutes well into 2016, at the end of which I am sure he will get another extension.

    And when Tony Snell is logging 32 minutes there is definitely something wrong with the coaching.

  • It was reassuring to see Rose play so well last night. Unfortunately, it felt like 2010-11 when there was little help for Rose. Nobody stepped up except for maybe Gibson. Gasol was awful.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I was thinking the same thing watching the game. Rose looked like a one man team yesterday because no one else could make a shot. If any other player would've stepped up there's a good chance we could have won that game. It was like 2010 all over again, and honestly I think right now this Bulls team is worse despite the record. For one, Rose and Noah were both healthy in 2010. That alone makes a huge difference. We all hope to see these guys at 100% by playoffs but there's also a strong chance it doesn't happen.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Like Doug said, Mirotic was contributing even if he wasn't shooting great. In fact for a minute it looked like Thibs was going to leave Gibson and Mirotic out there to close out the game, even when both Nene and Gortat were back in the game. I don't think that they have the physical ability to defend those 2 guys, but they were junking up the defense and holding their own, which is far more than we can say about Gasol. Then, naturally, Thibs could resist himself and brought Gasol back for Mirotic ending any hopes that the Bulls had to pull off a miracle as the Bulls immediately fell back to a double digit deficit.

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    Let's not all panic here. Two weeks ago all of you were saying that this is a championship team because we won a few games in a row. As of today, we lost a couple of games and now our team is no longer a championship team. In the next two weeks if we win all the games we will be a championship team again. How can you all switch your opinions so often is mind boggling to me.

    In my opinion Bulls are a team that can win a championship or as easily be knocked out in the first round. They're a team that one day or for a whole week plays amazing and the next day or next week they play like crap. They're all over the map but they have the potential and the heart to win.

    As far as Butler, I see people are turning against him already after a couple of slow games in the last two weeks. Are you kidding me VIC NARDOZZA? "Jimmy Butler has returned to the disappointing Jimmy Butler of last year". If you truly feel that than you don't know basketball. Jimmy is a much improved player. He is better in almost every category. In fact, if he is the same Jimmy of last year, he would have never did the things he already did this year. Jimmy became a beast and the player we desperately need. He is NO MVP or anything but a total bad ass. He is going thru a slump now because all the teams adjusted to him and I guarding him much better. He needs to adjust to that. This will be his biggest obstacle to a great player. If he figures out how to beat the defense he will be back to the Jimmy he was few weeks ago. I guarantee it.

    In my opinion, Rose's game yesterday is what Rose's game will be now. He will drive to the basket a couple of times, he will shoot a few mid range jumpers and he will try to shoot a couple of 3s. His role is no longer an MVP. His role is to make a couple of those hard drives to the basket and hit a couple of mid range jumpers. The rest of the scoring will come from Gasol, Jimmy, Mirotic and Brooks. He no longer needs to score for all the 4 other guys on the floor. He now will distribute the ball more to the other guys because they can actually score.

    Biggest Issues:
    Defense- we lost our defense. We don't need the best defense in the league any more but we sure as hell can't have one of the worse defense in the league. In my opinion, last nights game was lost due to our defense in second half. We had none. It doesn't matter if Rose goes off or any other player if we can't put a stop on the opposing team and they score right back.
    Less Hinrick/Snell- these players don't need to be out there in close games anymore. They do us no good. Bench them and only put them in for few minutes a game or if its a blowout.
    More Mirotic/Brooks- these guys can play. The longer they're out there the better they play. They both have their off nights but who wouldn't.

  • In reply to ChiTownBulls:

    this forum is full of entertainment and you nailed it on the head with the one silly comment about Butler

  • Totally agree with everything that you said about Gasol and the Gasol signing. I guess that everybody is over the 46 & 18 fools gold game and the golden halo has dimmed quickly.

    It was a mixed blessing from day one, and unfortunately he's been both better than expected and much worse. Living in Vegas and San Diego, I got the Lakers and Clippers as my "home team" thus watched more Laker games than I would otherwise. Like I said when we got him, he has always had too much Hangdog in him, and looked like 3 pack a day Vlade Divac the last couple of seasons in LA.

    Until last night, I couldn't come up with a simple way to sum him up, but it finally hit me, he is Mr. Donut, as in the hole in the middle of our defense. Since he is a particularly soft hole in our defense he is a particular brand of donut, i.e. Mr Krispy Kreme.

    I simply do not believe that you can win a title with Mr Krispy Kreme both starting and finishing games, nevermind a Hangdog playing 20+ minutes a night or the mostly invisible man as your starting SF. Other than that things are looking up, as long as we don't have to play the Wizards in the playoffs.

  • Finally, unfortunately(Noah injury) we got see what a starting lineup of Gasol and Gibson gives you, another 60 point half(Wiz second half, 32 in the 3rd qtr) on near record shooting percentage. Truth be told, if totally healthy Noah paired with Gibson might be the way to go, but that certainly isn't happening at least until year 3 of the Krispy Kreme era, no amnesty to bail us out this time.

    At least Orlando put up another 120 point game in beating Houston last night, so we can take some solace from that.

  • Well, I knew that I loved that Nurkic kid the first time that I saw him in the preseason, it looks like we blew it again.

    From ESPN Rookie review

    "Most Surprising (good), Jusuf Nurkic, Nuggets
    He's not a surprise to ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton, who ranked him very high in his pre-draft projections, but few others felt Nurkic could be an impact player as a rookie coming over from Croatia. That is exactly what he's been for the Nuggets, however, at just 20 years old.

    Post-up buckets over good defenders, offensive putbacks, smooth perimeter jumpers as a trail post -- these are all skills he is showing frequently now that he is firmly in Denver's rotation. Nurkic is also the best rebounder in this rookie class and, by the end of the season, will likely rate as its best defender, too (he might already be the Nuggets' best defender). This is what franchise-level centers look like before they turn 21."

    Wow, "This is what franchise-level centers look like before they turn 21." I guess that it wasn't so crazy of me to suggest that I would trade any of our top 3 big men right now for him straight up.

    Yep, we blew it again, McPillsbury better become an all star.

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