This is the Jimmy Butler I've been waiting for this year. The guy who aggressively fired up 23 shots, and canned several of them down the stretch. Butler's 32 points was a season-high, and came on the heels of his game-saving block on Paul George back in Chicago. He's looking more and more like he did early in the year, where his stardom seemed to be rising further.
What's special about Jimmy is his ability to close out games on both ends, especially in tight situations. Last night, Phoenix was drawing a dark cloud of concern over the game, but Jimmy decided to not let it turn into a game of fate:
That's Jimmy scoring nine points in the final 2:46, effectively ruining the Suns' evening and acquiring the Conference lead for the Bulls. I honestly didn't think I'd type that out after 11 games.
Also, kudos to Kirk Hinrich for showcasing his 2005 self. I've found myself feeling less and less concerned when Kirk is shooting, primarily due to his lesser role. But last night, knowing full well he'd get extended run, I caught myself actually maintaining that lack of concern. It felt good. Now, obviously, by expressing this I've jinxed him for the rest of the year probably.
BTW, Mark Karantzoulis made this and it is brilliant:
But let's talk about the big thing: No Derrick Rose. Even though the Bulls handed over 19 turnovers, there were times when the offense had a better flow offensively. When Rose is active, a lot of time is spent pounding the ball on the high top, whereas last night the ball was swung more, which created better movement. I'm hoping this isn't completely lost on Rose himself for when he returns, or the coaching staff in general for that matter. That's the type of offense that generates good looks, which begs the question: Will inserting Rose back into the line-up remove some of those looks? I'm not judging based on his absence, but I'm saying it's something that needs some attention.
The Bulls are in Golden State tomorrow evening to take on the Warriors, and I can't decide whether to have a Blu-Ray on stand-by for when Steph Curry scores his 27th point in the early stages of the second quarter, or if I should take off the Bulls glasses and just enjoy excellence. Unless of Jimmy succeeds in convincing Fred Hoiberg in guarding Steph from the get-go. That could be downright interesting.
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