Bulls need miracle finish to top Magic

Bulls need miracle finish to top Magic

The Chicago Bulls have won two in a row, that's a good thing. They had one of the best and most exciting comebacks in recent memory, also a good thing. The fact they required it against the Magic? Ehh...

I'm not going to try and sugar coat any, the Bulls started off strong and built a huge first quarter lead against the Magic. Then they simply fell apart. The Bulls new look bench didn't perform well together and has little chemistry or minutes playing together.

E'Tuan Moore played 15 minutes and led the bench with five points. Taj Gibson was trotted out there after spraining his ankle yesterday but didn't play well while Nikola Mirotic was saw just three minutes of action.

To pile on to Gibson's poor performance, Aaron Brooks had a poor shooting night while Mirotic saw the court for just three minutes which gave the bench an overall rather pathetic performance.

The Magic had the ball with a six point lead and 57 seconds left in the game. They ran down the clock to 32 seconds when Jimmy Butler intercepted Victor Oladipo's pass. Tobias Harris fouled Butler a fraction of a second too late, as Butler was sprinting by, for the clear path foul.

Butler sinks both free throws, then the Bulls get possession of the ball back. On the ensuing possession they swing the ball around until Derrick Rose is open at the top of the three point line, and he swishes a three. The Magic, in the end, were up six with 33 seconds and the ball, and managed to give up five points on the next possession.

With the Bulls down one and the Magic having possession and 19 seconds, things still seemed fairly bleak. However, the Magic inbound the ball to Evan Fournier a couple of feet from the half court line. Chicago presses him rather than immediately fouling, and Fournier backs up just enough to step on the mid court line before heaving the ball away. Back court violation.

Now the Bulls are down one with the ball, Derrick Rose drives baseline and takes an awkward baseline floater over Nikola Vucevic that misses. The only problem was Vucevic was covering Pau Gasol, and Tobias Harris who had rotated onto Gasol inexplicably fades away from the basket rather than trying to defend Gasol who gets an easy put back dunk.

The Magic get a pretty good look and a pretty good shot at a tap in on their final possession but miss both. Eflrid Payton inexplicably stops playing to whine about the refs not calling a push foul to keep him out of rebounding position with 1-2 seconds left in the game instead of fouling Pau Gasol which would have given the Magic another possession with possibly a second left and a three point deficit.

Given the Magic aren't going anywhere, you'd almost think this was one of the all time great tanking finishes ever. I haven't seen defeat grasped out of the jaws of victory like this since the Knicks gave up eight points to Reggie Miller.

Here's the video:

It wasn't pretty, but I'll take it.

On the night, Pau Gasol was huge for Chicago as was Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah. It was especially nice to see Noah have a quality game as he's struggled for much of the season. If Noah can round into form, the Bulls will start to look a whole lot more dangerous.

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  • A moral loss. But, nice for these guys to see that playing hard to the finish can make a difference.

  • In reply to Granby:

    As ugly as it was, it seemed a little less excruciatingly so since we weren't tortured by the mere sight of the corpsedog.

  • To be honest, I'll take this win even if we barely escaped the lowly magic. It shouldn't even come as a surprise at this point that the Bulls were going to struggle against them. They just don't match up well to young athletic teams. As sad as it is to say, if somehow the Bulls and Magic were to meet in the playoffs, I don't think Chicago could beat them in a 7 game series. The bulls are a beatable team for the Magic and they know it.

    Derrick rose struggled in the game but i'm actually pleased with his performance. He recognized he was struggling from the field and looked for other ways to impact the game. This is a huge step IMO because before he would just constantly jack up threes trying to force the issue but instead he saw Butler and Gasol had it going and decided to help get them better looks. The result was 11 assists on the night and I'll take that.

    The bench was horrible and if we lost that game their the reason why. But then again we don't exactly have an abundance of options to choose from. Technically our 2 main options off the bench are Brooks and Gibson and if their struggling then the bench is struggling. One problem I'm seeing is the team doesn't have as much dept as previously believed in the beginning of the season. With so many injuries and our 2 rookies barely able to taste the court options are limited.

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    In reply to ajaychitown:

    I agree with the Bulls matchup problems against the Magic, but disagree with the Magic beating the Bulls in a 7 gm series. The Magic don't have enough playoff experience to make the necessary adjustments to last 7 gms playing against the same team.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    People said the exact same thing when the Bulls faced the Wizards and look what happened. If Dunleavy didn't get hot that one game then the Bulls would have been swept by a team that lacked playoff experience.

  • Same old Bulls offense. Trap Rose, force him to pass out and watch the Bulls offense go to crap.

  • In reply to rpk1:

    As bad as Rose was offensively (I can almost live with that) he essentially lost the game for us with his defense or should I say complete lack of effort on that side of the ball which allowed Orlando to turn the momentum around on the Bulls and put them in position to steal the win before their epic choke job.

    Rose has become a Ben Gordon clone on defense. In particular after a shot goes up he simply stops playing, he turns around stands flat footed staring at the rim completely losing contact with his man, who flies right past him(with Rose completely oblivious) to grab uncontested rebounds and putbacks. You know its bad when Stacey and Neal are calling him out on it. The after the easy basket he stands there and does the Pau Gasol frustration dance like he can't believe what just happened, looking like a lost child wondering where his parents are to help him.

    He's been doing this all season and it is simply unacceptable. Every time that he does this Thibs should immediately call a TO and remove him from the game. Since he is playing/acting like a little child maybe he needs to be taught a lesson like a little child that his behavior is unacceptable.

    While it isn't pleasant you can understand his offensive struggles and chalk them up to his injuries. This crap on the defensive end has got to stop, and until it does he needs to shut his mouth about the problems the team is having communicating on defense. He is simply playing lazy, stupid basketball.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    The Bulls were cruising along with a 16 point lead until the Magic decided to make sure to take derrick out of the game and force someone else to beat them. This was the reason the Magic came back because the Bulls imploded on offense. Hate on Derrick all you want for his defense but it's a bigger issue of scoring when Rose isn't the primary ball handler making plays.

  • Jimmy Butler is looking like a max guy again. Hard to believe politically Bulls won't feel compelled to resign him.

    Dishing 11 Assists with only 3 turnovers is a terrific departure for a supposed PG whose A/TO ratio this season says he is anything but that. Still, shooting 25% on volume threes and 30% from two point range is not even D-League worthy. It's just ironic that on a night he finally performs well in one troubled area, Rose sinks to lowly depths in another.

    Noah's overall terrible numbers at this point in the season he's suddenly going to be able to perform well let alone decent? Hopefully this game is more then just an aberration.

    If Derrick won't keep hurting the team with his three point shooting and usually crappy PG play and sub par defense then either they have to find a way to move him or they need a new head coach IMO. Something's gotta give. Of course many mainstream media voices have already said barring some miracle playoff run Thibs is gone at the end of the season.

  • Injuries impact any team's chemistry if a player is on the regular rotation. Just see the big drop off of Clippers with JJ out. The Bulls have had many rotation changes from both starters and bench players and likely the big drop offs from the bench due to unexpected players coming in/out all the time. So, if all healthy, I still think the Bulls could beat many teams on playoff series, but probably not the Cavs. On a positive, I am very happy with Tony S. consistency. I think this kid is going to be a solid rotational player for the Bulls.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    You mean consistently missing wide open 3 point attempts(2-7) down the stretch as the Bulls were in the process of blowing another game to the lowly Magic.

    Why do we always have to overreact when a guy has one game where doesn't completely suck(19 pts). Dickey Simpkins probably had one game like that in his career too, thats not consistency, thats a blip on the radar.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think Tony will become a solid defense guy with a decent corner 3 shooting. I am specifically pleased with his defense, but would agree with you that his offense is almost at his celling.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    Hey, anything is better than having to watch the corpsedog, so in that sense I'm with you.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Agreed. Snell playing some D and eating up 15 minutes seems good enough. Let's hope Hinrich going out (and Dunleavy coming back) will be the spark this team needs.

  • Loss of focus - again! Up by 16, naturally the game was going to be a cake walk, right? Not!

    They won a game they should have lost, again, but they have lost some they should have won - think the first Cleveland and Dallas games. Must keep focus to the end.

    They need the SG for a playoff run. Is the FO going to pull the trigger?

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Do you really think a SG is going to make Rose and Noah play better? Because if not, there's no point.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    You're right we need those 2 guys to be right to go anywhere, but even if that happens we also need one more legitimate wing.

    Noah appears to be slowing coming around(not to what he was at his best, but serviceable) even if his offense is still mostly embarrassing to watch, especially considering that he is still being handicapped playing PF.

    As for Rose, I am not too optimistic that he can make it to where we need him to be this season. If he stills looks like this next season, then he's done and we have to start moving on from the Rose era. He really was a mess night, he simply couldn't deal with Payton's aggressiveness and harassment. To bad we didn't draft that kid instead of McDNP(drafted Saric and traded him to Philly for Payton)

  • A Win is a Win...

    We need to go in the paint more to the basket......draw those fouls.

    Pau, can you please raise your arms and jump a little to block those shots !

    Rose, you are throwing bricks up there.....not even hitting rim.

    Noah, you can join the team anytime to play.....contribute in anyway......maybe in April !

    Gibson, you cannot jump. you cannot finish easy baskets, you cry too much.....what good are you?

    Mirotic, if you think you can play like James Harden because you also have a beard, it is not working.

    I cannot believe HInrich is still with this team......

    If Butler is not in the top 3 of MVP voting, there should be a congressional investigation.

    I remember when Nate Robinson would come off the bench and get 5 points within 30 seconds....and 15 more points later on.

    We should have won that Dallas game.....so call it we got even for that game.

    If we did not have Gasol......if Butler was not good as he is.....we might be looking at a 20- 32 record now.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Noah had 18 pts last night and 19 rebounds the night before, you certainly can't ask for more than that from him, especially playing out of position. His best seasonal averages are about 12 & 11, he appears to be trending in that direction, he just needs a little consistency which should come as/if his health stabilizes.

    As for Gasol saving our bacon, that is likely a mirage, the Bulls are about a point worse per 100 possessions with him on the floor than they are without him. So as I would suspect he gives up everything that he gives you on the offensive end on the defensive end. Don't get me wrong its nice to have him as a kind of offensive security blanket, but he is no savior.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    "If we did not have Gasol......if Butler was not good as he is.....we might be looking at a 20- 32 record now."

    Sad, but true.

  • Yeah I'm starting to rethink Tony Snell as a legit rotation guy. Let's see: Tony hoisted 7 threes and shot a blistering.. .286?? Overall he's shooting 34% from three. In 28 minutes he'd have 4 rebounds. Yeah, definitely rethinking Tony Snell.. as in how can we optimize his spot play to get his three point percentage up just enough to.. pawn him off on somebody in trade for a better player or pick.

  • If we are looking for a Taj trade how about for the Dedman guy, kind of reminds me of a young Rodman.

    Anybody willing to trade McDNP for Payton, how about for Rose? We could have had him with the 11th pick, of kept(been stuck with) the rights to Saric.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I would give up on the "should have drafted Payton" story. I like Payton a lot but he's a non-shooting PG like Rose. If you're the Bulls, you simply can't assume Rose will need to be replaced, nor do you use a high pick on his backup, nor would they play well together when both are ball handlers and neither is a shooter. Had they drafted him, I doubt Thibs would have used him that much and he wouldn't be showing what he has already in Orlando, and maybe Orlando gets McDoug and he's shooting lights out for them. What is too bad is that they didn't know Rose was done when drafting.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    It'll be interesting to see if Rose looks rejuvenated at all after the All Star break. Maybe he just cant do a full NBA season this year after being off so long. His effort looks to have dropped tremendously from earlier in the year....if it's not from lack of conditioning then I'd say he is done.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    You're absolutely right about Payton and all the reasons that the Bulls would not be interested in him.

    However, the one reason that the Payton thing is still interesting to me is that Orlando felt that they had to make a trade with Philly to get him at 10 instead of waiting to take him themselves at 12. That means that they had some fear that somebody was going to take him at 11(Denver, the Bulls, or maybe somebody else trying to trade into that slot). I think that they even gave up a future first to make the deal. Like all things draft related we are not likely to ever know what would have happened. Since Saric and Payton were my top 2 choices(with Zack LaVine 3rd) if we moved up and it looks like we could have had either one, it will always bother me everytime that I see those 2 guys play especially if they end up being vastly better players than McDNP.

    When it comes to the draft, I believe in taking the best player available and worrying about everything else afterward. The question is were Payton and Saric the best players available at that time and did the Bulls reach for a need(shooting) rather than taking the best player available. I would have loved to have been the proverbial fly on the wall in the Bulls draft room. Lets face it, as fans, none of us even had McDNP on our radar, and too some/many people he was the dreaded draft pick that the Bulls were destined to make.

    The NBA draft is sort of like the stock market, you can drive yourself crazy with woulda, coulda, shoulda, and I usually do with both.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    "The NBA draft is sort of like the stock market, you can drive yourself crazy with woulda, coulda, shoulda, and I usually do with both." TRUE.

    One pick can make or break a GM. Tough job, really. Jerry Krause actually was for a number of years.

    If the Bulls can get the SG cheap enough, the FO should do it. It's still a long shot, but I sure would hate to be thinking in the playoffs, 'If we only had gotten the SG we would have a real shot at the title!'

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Completely agree with taking the best player available and I think teams would do better if they'd just draft the best talent and so I don't understand why professional GMs don't do it more often, and this is true in many sports. However, all that stated, I can completely, 100% understand why teams draft for need. Especially a team in a situation like the Bulls, who felt they needed only 1-2 key parts to potentially win a championship but are cap-strapped to add parts. It's just so hard to get good value in free agency, and similarly difficult to get good (equal) value in a trade, so why not use the draft to cheaply fill immediate needs -- in the Bulls case, land a shooter? They're all unknowns anyways, why not take the unknown who can help you this year? What if you draft Payton and Rose comes back at full strength? (Unlikely though it may be, you HAVE to bet on it), Then you have to trade Payton, and good luck getting equal value in return, you might get a couple of first round picks who will add up to nothing. There were people posting here who were downright angry (get a life, lol) the Bulls didn't outsmart 29 GMs to trade up and get Lillard, but again, what's to say you can get him, develop him and trade him for equal value? If you've ever tried making equal value trades in fantasy sports, you know how really difficult it is. That's why a good GM drafts McDermott over Payton, Saric, Nurkic or what I'm sure will be a list of guys better than McDermott when all is said and done because in nearly any draft, the draft order changes radically 3 years later (or the Bulls don't get Taj or Niko).

    Nonetheless, a great GM has the courage to take the best player every time, knowing it's best for the team in the long run. John Paxson doesn't even need as much courage with his job security but still, he's exactly a good but not great GM. There are only a few of those. At least Krause swung for the fences, he hit some home runs even if he also struck out a lot.

  • I thought Rose was okay. Yeah he was horrible from the field but sometimes you have those nights. There's more ways to make an impact on a game than just scoring. Even when Rose isn't scoring just his presence alone forces teams to adjust their defensive schemes. The old Rose would have just cut right through those defenses but current Rose is just trying to limit contact and stay healthy and I agree with him on that. Without Rose's 11 dimes the Bulls would have had to come up with 22 points and could have easily lost this game.

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    It's going to be up to the Bulls rookies Niko Mirotic, and Doug McDermott, and 2nd yr player Tony Snell to elevate the Bulls to championship status. Rose is okay, and has his moments and Pau is a great leader, but if The Bulls are to step it up a notch they are going to need some outside shooting, and floor spacing, and young hungry pups to play well with the old dawgs.

  • Since Neal and Stacey seemed more concerned about how many Bulls were getting double doubles than they were about how badly the Bulls were playing and that they were about to lose to lowly Orlando again...here are some fun facts from CSN Chicago, double doubles and other nonsense.

    - Pau Gasol now leads the NBA with 33 double-doubles this season (Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is second with 32).

    - Gasol's 12 straight double-doubles is the most by a Bulls player since Michael Jordan's 15 (March 18-April 14, 1989).

    - Gasol is the first Bulls player with consecutive games of 20 points and 15 rebounds since Marcus Fizer (April 12 and 14, 2004).

    - Gasol has reached a double-double by the end of the first half four times this season (Nov. 10, Jan. 3, Feb. 7 and 8).

    - Sunday was Derrick Rose's 50th career double-double (44 with points/assists and five with points/rebounds). Rose also has one career triple-double.

    - Rose's 11 assists Sunday was a season-high,

    - There are now 47 players that have taken 200-plus three-point attempts this season. Rose has the worst percentage and is the only player shooting under .300 (.297).

    - Jimmy Butler now has 29 games of 20-plus points this season (leads the Bulls). D.J. Augustin led the Bulls last season with 16 games of 20-plus points.

    - On Sunday Butler (27 points, five assists, six steals) became first Bulls player with 25 points, five assists and five steals in a game since Rose on Dec. 25, 2010 (25 points, eight assists, six steals). He's the first to do it while shooting over .500 from the field since Ron Mercer on Jan 23, 2001 (39 points, seven assists, five steals, 16-25 FG).

    - The 72 points allowed to New Orleans on Saturday are a season low, and matches last season's low (Jan. 10, 2014 against the Milwaukee Bucks).

    - The Bulls are now 9-10 without Mike Dunleavy this season (23-10 with him).

    Wow, Pau Gasol, Michael Jordan, Boogie Cousins and Marcus Fizer, all on the same page, who knew. I always remember Fizer as more of the bozohole type without the hole. Oh for the glorious Ron Mercer days. Rose the worst 3 point volume shooter in the league, gee who would have guessed that, certainly not Rose himself. Interesting and amusing stuff.

  • David Thorpe's ESPNs rookie rankings

    #1 Wiggins, #2 Mirotic, #3 Nurkic.

    Hey, isn't he the guy that the Bulls drafted at 16 to trade to the Nugs for McDNP(along with #19 Gary Harris).

    Here are his comments on Nurkic.

    Jusuf Nurkic, Nuggets
    Remember the idea that all big men from Europe were more finesse than power? That they liked to just shoot jumpers and make pretty passes from the pinch post? Of course it was never true, and Nurkic is the latest example. He is a big man who is comfortable making his living inside.

    While Shaquille O'Neal was a dominant big man for many reasons, high on that list was his "disposition to dominate." Nurkic, at 6-foot-11, 280 pounds, is not at that level disposition-wise, but the seeds of that attitude are evident.

    Watch Denver's young center try to seal his man above him in transition, hoping for a quick lob pass if his defender gets caught on his high side. Or watch him look to initiate contact to better know where a defender is and thus have a chance at controlling (and limiting) his movement. The defender wants space, which is why Nurkic can be seen hunting his man near the rim, bodying up and showing his hands to the teammate with the ball.

    Nurkic, 20, lacks the lower body strength and balance required to finish many of his shot attempts (or moves) near the basket. He is an athletic finisher if he gets to build up momentum on a rim run that begins 15 feet away or more, but not when he has to generate that explosiveness standing near the rim. Still, this is not a long-term concern; Nuggets fans and coaches should see him greatly improve in this area over time.

    In the meantime, Nurkic can compensate for this problem area. Having competed against stronger men in Europe without the ability to play athletically in tight spaces, Nurkic has learned how to get shots off inside using a sort of "half" or "circle" hook that allows him to release the ball from a spot that is farther away from the contesting hand of the defender. It's not quite the sweeping hook shot of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but it is an effective tool. Defenders know they can't get to it, so they are more likely to push him as he goes into his move (thus fouling him) or try to time their jump to block it. As Nurkic matures, he will learn to use fakes to get them to jump and then draw the foul.

    Nurkic isn't a good shooter, but he's not terrible either. He just needs a more consistent release and follow-through. His screen-setting will get better too; right now, the heart is there, but the execution is poor, as he is often not set and is standing too tall on screens. Considering how athletic he can be with a running start, though, it's easy to see Nurkic as a devastating pick-and-roll player in the future.

    In terms of his biggest impact in the league today, Nurkic has quickly become one of the best rebounders in the NBA, with great hands and a relentlessness to crash the glass. His nimble feet, long arms and overall size have helped make him a solid rim protector too. He easily leads all rookies in blocked shots per 48 minutes and is one of the top centers in the NBA in this category. And remember, he's doing this without really knowing what's happening around him or the pet moves of his opponents.

    If Nurkic never develops an accomplished offensive game, he still has the potential to be a starting center for a good-to-great team. Of course, if he can score 16-plus points per game efficiently while dominating the paint and the glass, he jumps into All-Star conversations. That is why Denver had no problem trading Timofey Mozgov to the Cavs.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You've lobbied for Nurkic for a while now. Would have been a great pick, so long as the Bulls could trade Taj or Noah for equivalent value in return, easier said than done. Otherwise, adding Nurkic, even without Gasol, would have only helped this team for about 10 minutes per night . With Gasol, we don't need a fifth big man so much as we need a shooter, too bad McDoug hasn't delivered this year.

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