Four games in five nights. Bulls fans knew this would be a daunting task, especially with head coach Fred Hoiberg starting to show a considerable lack of faith in his bench.
On Tuesday night the Bulls fell short 102-91 to the Detroit Pistons. The loss saddles Chicago with their second three-game losing streak of the season; this losing streak certainly has the coaching staff excited at the prospect of Doug McDermott returning to action on Thursday. The Bulls need his shooting in games like Tuesday night’s slug-fest; a game in which Chicago connected on a dreadful 13% of their three-point attempts.
Again the Chicago bench was over-matched, getting outscored by Detroit’s bench 33-11. The Bulls starters got off to a sluggish start as well, giving up a 12-point lead in the first quarter while showing clear signs of fatigue on the second night of a back-to-back.
Late in the first half Pistons guard Reggie Jackson ripped the ball from Jimmy Butler and threw a no-look, over the shoulder pass to Andre Drummond for a dunk that lifted their lead to 17-points. Chicago clawed back into the game and were only down 51-44 heading into the half behind the heroics of Butler.
The fourth quarter was the ultimate sign of the Bulls weariness. The Pistons won the final period 31-19, and they were aided along by the Bulls performing below average in some key categories. Chicago is one of the top free throw shooting teams in the league. They had 12 more free throw attempts than the Pistons but they only connected on 71%, well below their average. That number is alarming when you consider that Dwyane Wade and Butler connected on 19 of their 20 free throw attempts.
No matter how you look at the Bulls this season, the eye test and the numbers reveal the same thing. The Bulls dynamic Marquette duo has done some heavy lifting in getting the Bulls off to such an unexpected start. If Chicago is setting their sights on home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs then they will certainly need some additional help for the fourth-worst scoring bench in the league.
The Bulls next game is at the United Center, Thursday at 8:30 PM CT against the San Antonio Spurs.