Despite Butler's Return, Bulls Fall Flat in Phoenix

Despite Butler's Return, Bulls Fall Flat in Phoenix
Matt York / AP Bulls forward Jimmy Butler drives past Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler during the first half.

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.

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  • Haven't commented lately because the Bulls seem so hopeless. But this wheel spinning of mediocrity has to stop. I hope KC Johnson's report that the 3 Stooges (Gar, Pax, Hoiberg) are all coming back next year is not true. Nice to see the team owner meander from his Phoenix summer home to see what a wretched product he is foisting on his customers.

    Time to back up the truck. EVERYONE needs to go. I don't want one player, coach or front office doofus with this team next year. A new owner would be great too.

    Question: Who is worse: Mirotic or McDermott?

    And Michael, Jerian Grant still can't play.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Hey, you can say Jerian Grant "can't play", but I have my reasons. In 14 games as a starter he is shooting 42.1% from the 3-point line. That ALONE would be enough for me. But he also is shooting 92.1% from the free throw line this year. He is 6'4 and athletic. My only knock on him is he isn't a great play maker yet, but with Butler that's not really a huge concern, at least not for me.

  • I agree! Your articles are well written and interesting. I would like to respond more often, but what can we say different when nothing has changed with the Bulls. It's boring to watch our favorite team and see no improvement as we fans are ignored --no player development and no management input towards improvement!

  • In reply to penwit1:

    I appreciate the compliment penwit1 !

    I agree with everything you said above, however I do differ from most in that I like Fred Hoiberg. I feel that it is unfair to completely judge him when his input has been ignored just as much as the fans! Also I feel that John Paxson is realistic with his statements as least, which is more than what I can about Gar Foreman. But all management needs to go.....Kevin McHale anyone?

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