- @Miami L 127-130OT – What a great game this was. Everyone saw Wade hit the runner to win it in overtime, but the truth of the matter is that the Bulls fought hard and did very well for a team that struggles so much on the road. Ben Gordon matched Wade almost point-for-point, finishing with 43 on the night. What really did the Bulls in was a lack of ball movement on offense. Although Ben was hot, the Bulls only had 13 assists on the night. 13! Salmons put up 29 points and played very well, although his turnover at the end of overtime cost the Bulls the game. So can we all agree his ballhandling is a bit suspect?
- @Orlando L 79-107 – Yikes, this one was really bad. There really isn’t much to tell here. A bunch of the Magic’s bench scrubs put up career nights against the Bulls (Who is Gortat? He sounds like an alien or something). Dwight Howard only needed to play 22 minutes in this Bulls stinker. I can’t find a single Bull that really stood out beyond Salmons 18 points and 8 rebounds. Our starting backcourt combined to go 3-22 on the night. You’re not going to win many games like that.
- @Philadelphia L 101-104 – The Bulls kept this one close at the end, but once again Rose couldn’t get it done in the final moments. Although he didn’t look too good at the end of this game, he did have a pretty decent overall performance, scoring 20 points and snagging 6 rebounds, while dishing out 6 assists. Noah had another solid effort, putting up 15 points and 9 rebounds. The problem was that no one could seem to stop Iguodala and Young, who were able to score from everywhere on the court without any real opposition. The Bulls have had a lot of games like this, where they can push the tempo and score enough to stay in the game, but can’t make the crucial stops or put the ball in the basket in the waning minutes of the 4th.
- vs. New Orleans W 97-79 – The Bulls are a completely different team at home. They spanked the Hornets in this game, and the Hornets were basically healthy. Ben Gordon and John Salmons shot the lights out of the ball, going 11-17 and 9-15 respectively. An 18-0 run in the 2nd quarter put the Bulls squarely in control and another 17-0 run at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th put it out of reach for good. The Bulls went 10-25 from beyond the arc, which also helped a bit, especially in light of New Orleans shooting 0-11 from 3-point land. It’s nights like this, where everyone is playing defense and taking good shots, that make people think the Bulls are a decent team.
Player of the Week – Ben Gordon
John Salmons had another great week, averaging 21.3 points and 6.5 rebounds, but his turnover late in the Miami game cost the Bulls a win. Ben Gordon was the man this week, especially in the Miami game. He single-handedly kept the Bulls competitive in that game. Even though Gordon played poorly in Orlando and Philly, he was integral in the Bulls only win against New Orleans. Noah gets another shout out this week, for averaging 8.5 points and 9.5 rebounds a game.
What It Means
The euphoria of being in the driver’s seat for the 8th spot in the Eastern playoffs wore off pretty quickly. With just 15 games to play and in a virtual tie for the 8th spot with the Bucks, the Bulls need to start winning games and they need to start now. Another 1-3 week could put them too far behind to be able to make a push for the playoffs. The three losses on the road were not unexpected, since the Bulls carry the very unattractive road record of 10-26. What was more disturbing than losing was how they lost. The two losses in Orlando and Philly were just lifeless. It didn’t feel like there was any sense of urgency. Someone in that locker room needs to make everyone understand how important it is that they play well down the stretch. I’m not sure if Vinny is up to that task, since he’s too busy trying to figure out how he became an NBA coach even though he had no experience and was clearly not well-equiped for the job.
Did you think last week was tough? This week is even worse. The Bulls are at home for 2 of the 3 games this week, but that isn’t much solace. They play Boston at home tomorrow and the Lakers on Saturday night. Sandwiched in between those two is a road game at Oklahoma City. Even though the Bulls are a better team than the Thunder, the lifeless Bulls are the only ones who go on road trips, so you never know. The Celts and Thunder have some injuries, but the Bulls must take every game seriously down the stretch and neither of those games will be easy. I’m also curious to see how Salmons does against Kobe on Saturday night. I’m not sure if Vinny will go with that matchup, but Salmons does a pretty good job defending perimeter scorers so maybe he will get a few looks.
Bulls Weekly Grade: C+
The reason they get a C+ has nothing to do with their 1-3 record and everything to do with how terrible they played in the losses. The effort was lacking and they will keep playing this badly until someone motivates them to do so (Vinny, are you out there?) Also, where’s Tyrus Thomas? After playing so well leading up to the trade deadline, he has drifted back into obscurity.