Cough, cough, wheeze. After this game, I was tired too. The Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic took us back to the ABA days for one night going for three free periods of basketball. In the end, the Bulls outlast the Magic 128-125 in three overtimes. Rookie Tony Snell finally put this to bed with a go ahead jumper. He finished with 15 points. One blocked three pointer from Glen “Big Baby” Davis and we call it a night….Finally! Everyone, put the children to bed, Joakim Noah was a grown man! He scored 26 points grabbed 19 rebounds and handed out 6 assists in 49 minutes of action. Jimmy Butler scored 21 points but he played, get this..an astonishing 60 minutes! Carlos Boozer scored 23 points and DJ Augustin, who is starting to become the next “Nate Robinson” finished with 19 points and 9 assists. Orlando was led by Victor Oladipo, who scored a career high 35 points, dished 8 assists and had 3 steals. Jameer Nelson had 31 points with 10 assists capping a strong Magic backcourt performance. Tobias Harris had 22 points and 16 rebounds, while Glen Davis finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds.
The Bulls have now won seven straight in Orlando, six out of seven overall and three out of four since the Luol Deng trade. I think we are now starting to see an evolution in the identity of the Bulls. Which is a great thing. The Bulls have issues scoring the ball in the half court so they are speeding up the tempo of the game. The coaching staff led by Tom Thibodeau has done a fine job of looking at what they have and making the necessary adjustments. If you look at the roster, this team has the athletes to speed up the tempo. Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell and DJ Augustin are just a few players that thrive on the break. Noah and Boozer are nimble enough to beat a lot of frontcourt players down the floor. I love what is being done with this squad right now. I liken this to what the San Antonio Spurs did a few years back. Gregg Popovich changed the offensive focus from Tim Duncan to Tony Parker and increased the tempo. This will be a boon for the Bulls in the long run.
By now, Pippen Peoples you know I am not known for bedside manner. I tell it like it is. There is no way that this game should have gone on this long. First off, Orlando played last night WITHOUT their two best players, Arron Afflalo and Nik Vucevic. Afflalo has been coveted by many teams around the league, but Orlando refuses to trade him. He’s that good. Vucevic is a rebounding machine. without these two, I’m not saying that this should have been a blowout but the game should have been handled. The Magic came in losing eight straight. Dirk Nowitzki gave them 40 points in 34 minutes in a blowout loss leaving them in a 10-28 quagmire. This is a perfect example of a team in rebuilding mode. For the last couple of games the Bulls have left an old friend at home…their defense.
For the last few games, the defense for the Bulls have taken a couple of steps back. Understand the Magic is at the bottom of the league in scoring. Realize their top two players did not play and put up 125 points. You ask how? How about the fact that the backcourt defense for the Bulls is almost non-existent for the last few games. The Bulls absolutely struggle to the point of giving out VIP passes to quick guards. The Orlando Magic starting backcourt scored an absolute absurd 66 points! That’s red carpet treatment. This is a bad trend that needs to be addressed…quick. The Bulls defense were actually taken to the shed during the second and third quarters giving up 60 points. To put this in perspective, the Bulls defense give up an average of 91 points, for an entire game. The issue with the guard defensive play these days is that they are giving up penetration which puts so much pressure on the Bulls frontline. This can’t go on because Noah and Co. will wear down completely by the stretch run for the playoffs.
The Bulls get a rematch against the Washington Wizards Friday night. Hope the Bulls backcourt reads this and figures something out because it does not get any easier chasing John Wall and Bradley Beal around in DC.
Grab your Bulls tickets here for when they battle the Washington Wizards Friday.