Welcome back to Wade County.
The entire contest between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat had a weird vibe. At least that was the case for Dwyane Wade, who returned to the American Airlines Arena as opposition player for the first time in his career.
Wade: "Worst basketball game I've ever played in my life. I couldn't wait until it was over. It was just weird."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) November 11, 2016
There's a first time for everything, but Thursday night was straight up goofy. Even as the visitors went on to take a 98-95 victory, the story was the return of the lost son.
After all of the talk about possible disrespect between Pat Riley and the man who brought three championships to South Florida, he was back. Back in Miami, back to thunderous cheers from the Heat faithful, and back to do what he's done so well throughout his whole career -- win.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 11, 2016
This game wasn't pretty but one of the constants for the Bulls so far this season has been the ability to beat bad teams. Miami is a young team that's still searching for something to hang their hats on. Hassan Whiteside continues to make his mark on the league and had a strong showing, scoring 20 points and grabbing 20 rebounds.
Per usual the Bulls dominated the glass Thursday evening and even got some unsuspected help from one of their key rebounders scoring wise. Raise your hand if you thought Robin Lopez would be this important to the Bulls, and would have the most shot attempts in Dwyane Wade's return to South Beach?
Yeah, neither did I.
For portions of this game the offense flowed through Robin Lopez, and it times, it need to. With Jimmy Butler and Wade looking tired and sluggish early, the Bulls needed shot creation from somewhere. Lopez obliged, hoisting a team high 20 shots, finishing the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds. In the first quarter alone, RoLo shot 4-of-9 from the field and was a crucial part of the Bulls' early 12-0 run. Something that cannot be undervalued is Lopez's activity, he is constantly keeping balls alive. He often struggles with defending the pick-and-pop, but since Whiteside is incapable of hitting the midrange jumper, Lopez feasted down low.
Rajon Rondo had arguably one of his best games as a Bull, but even in games where he plays "well" he makes some head-scratching decisions. The point guard finished with 16 points, 6 assists, and 12 rebounds. That is a very respectable stat line, however Rondo's lack of poise and stubbornness is starting to wear on the patience of Bulls fans. His continuous lapses on defense were evident in this game but luckily the Heat couldn't capitalize.
Lopez, Rondo & Wade having more FGA than Jimmy Butler isn't something that will routinely get you the W, even though the Bulls will here.
— Mark Karantzoulis (@MKarantzoulis) November 11, 2016
I have a case study for you.
In the fourth quarter Player A attempts six field goals, and two-time all star, most-improved, face of the franchise, otherwise known as Player B, attempted five field goals. Player A has been know for killing possessions, wasting clock, and hasn't been extremely confident as of late. Player B has been a surprisingly good facilitator and is able to get to the free-throw line. Which player should close out games for the Bulls?
The wrong answer is Player A - Rajon Rondo. The correct answer is Player B - Jimmy Butler.
Down the stretch Rajon Rondo seemed to want control of this game. Unfortunately, he has been the poster child of inconsistency. As the outcome of the game seemed to hang in the balance, Rajon proceeded to miss his last three shot attempts of the game and missed some switches on defense. Jimmy Butler on the other-hand proceeded to hit a jumper with under a minute left as well as make two free throws to put the game out of reach. The Bulls' closer was quiet for most of the night, but when the moment mattered the most he stepped up.
Wade came home, Lopez was the focal point, Rondo was annoying, and Jimmy carried us home. The Bulls now sit at 5-4 and welcome the Washington Wizards to the United Center on Saturday.
Filed under: Game Threads