Tough loss, but overall, a fun game. The Wizards defeated the Bulls 96-93, in a game that wasn’t dreadful. Oddly enough, these two teams fit as opponents, and if the stars align, these two teams might meet in the playoffs. It’s not totally insane to see these two teams in a 4-5 matchup, no? I mean, the Eastern Conference is THAT bad, the Knicks aren’t making a move anytime soon, the Nets are the Nets, and we’re still TBA on the impact Deng makes in Cleveland. If the Bulls don’t fall in the standings, I would be very intrigued with Chicago and Washington, battling it out in the first round.
The duo of John Wall and Marcin Gortat turned out to be the main factors in Washington’s victory. Wall flourished against the Bulls point guard defense. He attacked the basket, he did work on the stop-and-pop, and wreaked havoc in the passing line, finishing a big and-1 in transition. At one point, Wall had a 8-0 run, pulling the Wizards back into this game, before the Wizards can pull away. As for Gortat, he was worked in the low-post. Gortat finished 3-5 in the painted area (shots inside of 10 feet), 2-5 on shot attempts from 10-16 feet, and 0-1 on a rogue three-point attempt to end the quarter. Along with 13 points, Gortat finished with six rebounds, and that was enough for the Wizards to pull this one out.
Some other things of note:
- Just look and admire the greatness that is Joakim Noah. He didn’t need the ball to dominate this game, and one day, we’ll look back at games like this to remember just how good, and quite possibly underrated, his game was. Noah finished with 9 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and just four turnovers. He was essential in swinging the ball inside out, and made irritated Nene for most of the night. A classic Joakim Noah performance tonight, and it seems like the Wizards’ lack of low-post defense allows Noah to pick them apart, as Noah finished with eight points, 19 rebounds, and three assists in the previous matchup.
- The point guard combination of Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin combined for 34 points on 25 shots, with seven assists. They both offered different things (Hinrich allowed the offense to become more efficient and team orientated, while Augustin was the focal point of the offense while he manning the position), but what they’ll stand out for is their lack of defensive success on John Wall, who finished with 23 points (9-15 shooting), 11 assists, and four rebounds. Even then, I found both of them to have solid games. Hinrich was the superior player, thanks to his size, and ability to do other things. Not only did Kirk offer 18 points, but he also finished with five rebounds and five assists, and ultimately, that’s the reason why he starts. He isn’t a good player this point, his defense has slipped, and he’s currently shooting under 40% from the field, but between he and Augustin, he’s the starter.
- I like the future involving Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell. They almost seem like carbon copies, in terms of prototype. Both are long-limbed defenders, who can offer plenty of offensive value off-the-ball, and defensive value on-the-ball. Both can rebound the ball, and while they aren’t marksmen, both can offer some value shooting from three. Having Mike Dunleavy allows the Bulls to slowly bring Snell along, and if Butler can stay healthy, the Bulls can have three long wings, who can shoot the ball (Butler is struggling this season from the field, but again, he’s battling injuries), and relieve pressure from Derrick Rose. As for this game, Snell got 26 minutes, and had some positives (Defense was really good against Beal and Ariza at different points) and negatives (Didn’t shoot well). Butler played 39 minutes, played excellent defense, and filled in the blanks on offense. Ho-hum.
- While he didn’t have the greatest game tonight (32 minutes, 3-9 shooting, 7 points, 2 rebounds), Mike Dunleavy is a huge part of this team’s success. Taking his game into equation, Dunleavy has shot 52% from three over the last five games. Just having someone who can not only space the floor, but draw attention while doing it matters. There were multiple occasions in this game where Dunleavy slinked into the corner, and pulled a defender with him. It’s not the most impressive thing in the world, but it’s something the Bulls lacked since Kyle Korver left. When the Bulls traded Luol Deng, I thought Dunleavy was one of the next pieces to go. He’s a great shooter, and his contract is nice (3.1 million next season), but on second thought, Dunleavy should stay a Bull, if anything for the retooling the Bulls will make moving forward. Having a 40% three-point shooter for under four million in the current NBA works. Even if the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer, a Jimmy Butler extension looms, and having some cheaper pieces to go around the larger pieces seems logical for future success.
Next Game: Tomorrow vs. Philadelphia at 8:00 ET