After a frustrating and surprisingly high-scoring loss to the Indiana Pacers, what do we make of the Chicago Bulls? Are they the team that throttled the Atlanta Hawks on the road, down five players? Or are they the team that refuses to show up for games against the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats and gives up 111 points to the Indiana Pacers, of all teams?
The answer, of course, lies somewhere in between. They’re probably closer to the team that filleted the Hawks than the one that n0-shows games against bad teams, but it’s really hard to say.
In reviewing last night’s game, a couple of things jump out. The first is that David West is really, really good. West slapped up a 29/9/4/3 line (points/rebounds/assists/blocks) on 11/18 from the field. It’s hard to do much of anything against a guy like that, especially when you’re missing two of your best players. Part of the problem certainly stemmed from the Bulls playing small for much of the game. Carlos Boozer was back, but he played just 24 — mostly ineffective — minutes and we all know he can’t guard anyone anyway. Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler are two amazing wing defenders, but they’re just not physically big enough to pose much more than a mild challenge to David West.
On the Bulls’ side, Marco Belinelli did everything he possibly could to keep the Bulls in the game, scoring 24 points in about 24 minutes and shooting 9/13 from the field. Furthermore, he spent most of the game hobbling around on a sprained ankle. I’ve been vocally anti-Marco for most of the year — I really hate hearing about how he’s supposedly better than Kyle Korver, since he’s not — but this was a truly impressive performance.
Here’s what last night comes down to: Yes, the Bulls were missing Joakim Noah, who’s been the Bulls’ MVP this season, but you can’t allow the Pacers to shoot 52 percent from the field while also giving them 34 free throws. You also can’t get outrebounded by 12 while doing those things, but I’m willing to chalk that up to being without Noah and to Boozer sucking. The Bulls offense was pretty decent, even as Boozer and Deng were busy going a combined 8/30 from the field. Taj Gibson had another solid game as a starter, putting up 10 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks, but it’s clear this team misses Noah desperately against teams that are willing to pound the ball inside.
Bottom line, it’s probably best to just let this go. It’s one game in a long season.