After playing the Grizzlies tough for 44 minutes, the Bulls failed on both ends of the floor in the critical moments of last night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Tony Snell gave the Bulls a huge lift in the fourth quarter when Chicago looked on the verge of falling apart. He had three triples, the final of which actually gave Chicago a brief three point lead 88-85.
Tom Thibodeau decided to give him a rest at that point, though for just a minute, but the Bulls only had a Nikola Mirotic three the rest of the way. After that point, Chicago was just 1/8 from the field with three turnovers. Memphis was considerably better.
Did the Bulls lose momentum at that switch and with the Noah sub a minute later? Did they just run out of gas after closing the gap on a 13 point lead? It's hard to say.
The interesting news for Bulls fans is that up until that last stretch the Bulls were shooting 50% from the three point line and 47% from the field. It was their second night in a row of pretty tremendous offense even without Butler/Rose.
This gets down to the larger problem that the Bulls still aren't anywhere near where they need to be defensively and Jimmy Butler doesn't figure to make that big a difference in the defense.
Nikola Mirotic continues his strong play for Chicago
One thing you can feel great about recently as a Bulls fan is the play of Nikola Mirotic. If you combine that with the play of Jimmy Butler, then the Bulls still have a couple of pretty young assets that you can put together to rebuild this franchise around.
The Bulls have plenty of rebuilding to do if they tear this thing down, but they aren't without some pretty promising assets. I could trivially see Mirotic becoming a consistent all-star caliber player with a few adjustments in his game.
The great thing about what Mirotic has shown lately is all of the inside play. With a little more seasoning about when to use the pump fake and when to just go, Mirotic will become an even more dominant force.
However, even now, he regularly gets into the paint to draw fouls. His finishing is improving as well. His three point shooting actually hasn't been much of a strength yet which is nice because I think with another year of adjusting to the NBA three point line it will come along just fine.
The Bulls have a very faint shot at a title in the next two years, but they also have some pieces to keep around and help them after that window closes to help them open a new one.
Derrick Rose setting the table for disappointment
We'll see what happens with Derrick's injury. He sounded relatively upbeat, but he wasn't going to guarantee he'll be back despite the fact the season ends a week after the long estimate for his recovery time.
There's a part of me that wants to be mad at Rose and say "how can you not be back?", but as I've said before, I think Derrick has proven to be a very slow healer. After taking longer to return than a normal person (let alone an elite athlete) from his past two surgeries why would anyone expect him to hit the standard time table this time?
It's easy to blame Rose and say he's not motivated or not trying or doesn't care, and there are times I wonder if those things are true, but it strikes me as very clear that he's also a guy who has a fragile body which doesn't heal quickly.
In that sense, when Rose refuses to promise a return, it isn't because he doesn't want to return. It isn't because he doesn't think his team is good enough to have a shot so why bother. I think Derrick realizes the importance of being back on the court right now.
When he doesn't promise to return now, it's because he knows he can't make that promise. I'm sure he hopes to return, and I'm sure he knows what's at stake. However, I don't think it's a matter of choice with him.
I think his body has really simply may not be up to the task, and he knows it.
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