Bulls Shake Off Lakers, Get to 3-1 on Circus Trip

Bulls Shake Off Lakers, Get to 3-1 on Circus Trip
Jimmy Butler at Bulls media day at the Advocate Center on Sept. 26, 2016. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

This year’s incarnations of the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers are not what they were for a long time as far as franchise faces. By trading Derrick Rose, the Bulls let it be known that Jimmy Butler is their true leader. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant’s retirement means the Lakers are without a defining player for the first time in over 20 years. This difference played a large part during the Bulls’ 118-110 win in Sunday’s meeting between the teams.

The Lakers blew a 10-point lead in the second quarter and cut a 13-point Bulls lead to five with 1:12 left in regulation. That’s when Butler, whose 40 points meant he’s now scored at least that many four times in his career, showed his true leadership. It might have been more impressive than his continued driving towards the basket, which resulted in 14 free-throw attempts, 12 of which he made. Butler won a jump ball with Julius Randle and ate some clock before finding Rajon Rondo for a finger roll that put the exclamation point on this game.

A trio of 3-pointers apiece came from Isaiah Canaan (17 points) and Nikola Mirotic (15), the latter starting for Dwyane Wade, who sat to rest for the first of what will probably be several more times this year. Mirotic completed the double-double with a career-high 15 rebounds. Robin Lopez also achieved a double-double (12 and 11) and Taj Gibson played like his USC days by scoring 15. Rondo picked up 12 assists, five in the fourth, so he wasn’t passing for the sake of passing on this night.

The Bulls, sticking with one of their themes for the year, outrebounded the Lakers by 19, an indictment of what happens to opponents who don’t have enough bigs to box out on either end. That’s leading to plenty of opportunities on offense and most of the time, the Bulls are making it count.

It wasn’t all without drama, however. The Bulls allowed the Lakers to climb back into the game late, surrendering a double-digit lead on consecutive made baskets with little resistance. Too often down the stretch, the Bulls turned to players other than Butler to ice the cake. The Lakers started pouring in threes when no one could nail it down and it very nearly changed the outcome. These are the moments your franchise player lives for, so don’t let a Toni Kukoc or Ron Harper try to be Michael Jordan.

The Bulls will rest Monday before playing again Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets. Kenneth Faried will present a challenge down low, so the offense will need to have another solid game. At the very least, they’ll need to limit second chances, lest Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler or someone else makes them pay. Fortunately, Wade should be back, so maybe he can unleash another long-ball shooting clinic to make it all moot and the trip even more pleasant.



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  • Great win because we are able to give Dwade a night off and still come out winning

    Say what you want about Fred hoiberg coaching, rotation management etc. But at least he has been managing total minutes well. butler avg 35 mins, dwade 30, taj 28. We will need all these 3 players healthy come playoff time. Thibs would be playing all three 35-40 minutes a game for sure, that's why I don't like him

  • In reply to handushk:

    Well Thibs did play Wiggins/Towns 38 minutes in a game they won by 24. Thibs is a good coach but grinding your players to win meaningless regular season games isn't part of his good coaching.

    It's nice to watch games without having to Thibs scream and yell for 48 minutes and bitch about every call.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Thibs does not bitch about every call? It's just that any call made against a Thibs coached team is wrong.

  • A snippet from Joe Cowley's article I found interesting:

    "The longer Rose has been gone, the more head-shaking stories come out about him. According to multiple team sources, his game preparation was so inadequate that coach Fred Hoiberg had no choice but to pull him into the office before tipoff and try to go over the game plan again. Even then, Rose either forgot or chose to ignore what was asked of him, especially on the defense."

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