There will be games this year in which the Bulls will have to play beyond the mandated 48 minutes. They got their first overtime rehearsal Monday against the Charlotte Hornets. It didn't work out in the end as they lost 108-104. That brought their three-game winning streak to an end and dropped their preseason record to 3-3.
With the exception of Nikola Mirotic, who left in the third quarter with a lower back strain, each Bull who saw action played between 13 and 37 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie was left on the bench and new Bull Michael Carter-Williams wasn't available. And with five extra minutes available, that meant more time for certain bench players to pad their resumes for the year.
Four of the five starters scored in double figures, led by Jimmy Butler's 15. Taj Gibson, in the middle of an impressive exhibition schedule, scored 12 while Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez each had 11. Rajon Rondo distributed 10 assists, but shot just 1-for-7, struggling even while driving to the basket.
Off the bench, Doug McDermott was the top dog with 14 on offense and defensively, he hustled and made plays, which allowed him to play more minutes than anyone. Twelve points each came from Isaiah Canaan and Jerian Grant, who hit the 3-pointer that sent the game to overtime. Cristiano Felicio was also strong, pulling down 12 rebounds.
Almost everybody had a fair shot to showcase what he might bring to the table. Even if the projected starters rested for most of the second half (and don't act like you weren't expecting that), we know what they're likely to bring. Those on the bench are fighting for spots in the rotation and instances in which they might be called upon.
Paul Zipser, for instance, could be an option for defense in the paint, as evidenced by a pair of blocks, including one late in regulation. Bobby Portis should see the floor when the Bulls need a two-way player to give the better players rest. The list goes on, but it's all purely subjective. Fred Hoiberg might see something we're not and after all, there's a reason he's the head coach and none of us are.
With only one preseason game left though, time is running out for the players to make their own impressions. They should all be in serious playing mode by now, even if nothing has counted yet. If two weeks of playing against other teams hasn't gotten the rust out of them, they're in trouble. But if they each have a clear sense of where they stand and what they can bring, that will make for an easier transition into the regular season.
The Bulls wrap up the preseason in Omaha against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. Some may speculate McDermott and Kyle Korver might get into a shooting contest. They might as well with many Creighton faithful in attendance. Since the game means nothing, there's nothing wrong with a little friendly one-on-one before the games really begin.