The Chicago Bulls had scored over 100 points in four straight games before Wednesday's deflating 123-92 loss to Golden State. So with the lowly Phoenix Suns on the schedule, I thought it would be safe to assume the Bulls would return to their newfound high-scoring ways, right?
Of course, I couldn't have been more wrong.
The fact that the Bulls only scored 97 points is disappointing, but not extremely concerning. The team only scores a paltry 102.4 points per game. The fact that the team started scoring so well during the three games that Jimmy Butler was out suggests some serious "Ewing Theory" potential.
The Bulls go as Jimmy goes, and when he shoots 37.5% from the field it will be tough to win. But of course the loss isn't because of the actions of any one Bulls player. All season the Bulls have been extremely inconsistent with the one thing they can definitely control: their effort.
Chicago is the best offensive rebounding team in the league but you wouldn't be able to tell if you watched this game. Phoenix--no slouch in the offensive rebounding department--finished wit a +1 advantage on the offensive boards despite losing veteran center Tyson Chandler early on in the game. They were boosted by a double-double from reserve Alan Williams (14 points, 11 rebounds), who stepped up big time with almost all of the Suns front court players out for one reason or another.
The downsized Suns ran the Bulls out of the gym, outscoring them 19-6 in fast break points. So the argument can easily be made that if the Bulls would've hustled back on defense a bit more they could've kept this game close down the stretch.
Fred Hoiberg's rotation still seems like it is established by pulling names out of a hat. After a few 20+ point games Michael Carter-Williams received....eight minutes. He was 2-of-3 in that limited time. Meanwhile, Denzel Valentine got 15 minutes with Butler and Wade back despite not getting any run with Chicago in two other games where Butler was out and Valentine's shooting would've been helpful.
The Bulls kept up their free throw prowess though; their +9 advantage in free throw attempts helped ease the pain of the otherwise terrible shooting night. Chicago stayed within striking distance in the 1st quarter before getting outscored by 11 in the 2nd quarter.With all the energy the young Suns came out with, it isn't hard to see how the Bulls fell 115-97.
In a post game interview Dwyane Wade said "We know what our identity is." He followed that statement up by saying a bunch of things that a veteran leader should say, rather than what I personally feel he wanted to say. And what I believe he wanted to say is "We know what our identity is....we are mediocre and uninspired." Of course Wade wouldn't say that after all the drama this team has been through, but it probably wouldn't have mattered.
This Bulls team is what it is, and until they can string together consistent efforts will we continue to see this up-and-down madness. The Bulls look to bounce back on Sunday as old Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau goes for a season sweep of his former team.