It’s the holiday season–however the Bulls weren’t very joyful tonight.
In a matchup against Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets, the Bulls came out flat, and dug themselves a hole that not even MJ could have dug them out of. Jimmy Butler was efficient racking up his usual 26 points on 11-for-19 from the floor, including shooting 2-f0r-4 from from the three-point line. However, the Bulls offense seems to stall at times. Butler and Wade both seem to thrive in isolation situations, and those type of offensive sets limits ball movement. Fred Hoiberg’s offense thrives when the ball is moving, and lately the ball has been sticking.
Rajon Rondo continued his season long struggles, as he shot 3-for-10 from the field. However, the Bulls’ point guard did have 9 rebounds to go with 10 assists, but it was his 5 turnovers that really hurt the Bulls. After leading 26-22 at the end of one quarter, Hoiberg’s Bulls were only able to muster up 14 points in the second quarter and were simply never able to recover. Taj Gibson, who looks to be in his final season with the Chicago Bulls, continued his strong season with 10 points in 30 minutes.
The Bulls’ bench unit is starting to perform at a higher level. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined for 26 points, while Jerian Grant contributed 4 points in 13 minutes. It was good to see Doug McDermott get some shots up from the three-point range, rather than just stand in the corner waiting for the ball. McDermott ran off screens and created his own shots in the lane. Cristiano Felicio was a non factor with 0 points in 14 minutes, missing on his only 2 shot attempts.
There were simply no answers for Nicolas Batum or Kemba Walker. Batum filled the stat sheet with his first Triple Double of the season, scoring 20 points, grabbing 11 rebounds while dishing out 10 assists. Walker contributed 20 points, and was more than enough for the Bulls defense to handle.
Lisle, Illinois’ own Frank Kaminsky came off the bench for Charlotte–scoring 13 points. While former Chicago Bull, Marco Belinelli, only saw 7 minutes of action before leaving the came with an apparent ankle injury.
Tempers flared toward the end of this one as Robin Lopez and Taj Gibson were both ejected in the 4th quarter, following a flagrant 2 foul from Lopez. The Bulls’ center caught both Tyler Zeller and Marvin Williams with elbows to the face. By the time Chicago’s starting front court had been asked to leave–this one was over. The Bulls looked like a team who just can’t seem to gel together, and are starting to unravel 29 games through the long 82 NBA season.
It’s hard to pin this loss on Fred Hoiberg. He’s simply playing the players that he has, and let’s face it–the guys that he has aren’t helping him out. It’s nights like this that Fred Hoiberg might be missing his Iowa State team. Following this loss, the Bulls have fallen to under .500 for the first time this season with a record of 14-15. Chicago will square off in San Antonio against former Bulls draft pick LaMarcus Aldridge, and the San Antonio Spurs on Christmas Day at 4:00PM on ABC. Fear not, Bulls fans–this is the type of game that the Bulls will come out fearless, and put up a fight against a far superior team. Let’s hope for some Christmas magic.