Okay Joakim! Obviously you know something we all don’t. You see Joakim Noah doesn’t like the MVP chants. He believes that it takes the attention away from the accomplishments of the team.. I’m going to start co-signing Noah. Look stop calling the MVP chants! Please! I’m starting to see something that is starting to be a trend here. Like I said in a previous article, I saw Deja Vu. It happened…again. The Oklahoma City Thunder handled the Chicago Bulls 97-85. The game marked the return of Russell Westbrook from sitting out the previous game against the Dallas Mavericks. Without him the Thunder suffered their worst beat-down of the season. The Bulls were right with the Thunder with 10 minutes left after Jimmy Butler stole a pass and finished the play with a dunk. Taj Gibson hit a jumper to cut it to 76-75. Remember that moment because for the next six and a half minutes the Bulls didn’t score a lick missing eleven straight shots while the Thunder scored 13 points over that span. Game over, Pippen Peoples! Game over! The Bulls went seven minutes and four seconds in all between baskets (more on this later). Ugh! Anyway here’s what I learned from this game.
1) Kevin Durant might be the best pure scorer in the world.
Let’s be clear everyone because trust me my father is at home RIGHT NOW reading this (probably laughing) thinking I’m calling Durant the best player in the world. That is not what I’m saying, LeBron James is still the best player in the world. What I am saying is that Kevin Durant is the best SCORER! What that means is that he can efficiently put up numbers without throwing up a bunch of shots to get the points. Kevin Durant scored 35 points grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out five assists. This marks the 32nd straight game with at least 25 points or more. Let’s concentrate on the scoring. Durant got his points on 11-21 shooting from the field, 3-4 in three-point shots and 10-12 from the line. The way you can tell the efficiency of a scorer is based on the points and the amount of shots taken from the field. The more points a player has than shots the better the efficiency. 35 points on 21 shots is outstanding. He shot over 50% from the field, 75% from the land of three and nearly 84% from the line. Let’s compare this to Carlos Boozer who scored 12 points on 13 shots from the field. As you can see Boozer had more shots than points which is less efficient. Forget the stats, it was the ease in how he scored that was impressive. He got to any spot on the floor and scored over and over. He looked dominant and in complete control of this game. Part of the reason why was…..
2) Jimmy Butler looked overmatched (also read intimidated) by Kevin Durant
I will preface anything I say about this dude by saying he is my favorite Bulls player. But he’s pushing it. Jimmy Butler did not have a good game last night on either end of the court. Let’s start with the defense. Does anyone remember the Heat game when Jimmy got into it with LeBron James? He put his foot all up in LeBron’s face and just attached himself to James with that dogged attitude that help keep LeBron at bay? Okay, as big as LeBron James is why did he play like that against Kevin Durant? As little as Durant is, where was the elbows, the physical play? Butler did not fight through picks to the tune of Durant rising up easily for threes. On two occasions Durant slipped Butler on the pick and roll for dunks. Maybe Jimmy is getting tired because he has logged a lot of minutes since Luol Deng left for Cleveland. Whatever the reason you have to be very disciplined defensively to deal with a pure scorer like Durant or he’s going to embarrass you. Butler was schooled all night long. As with young players, if the shot is not falling it can affect the whole floor game. Butler scored 13 points on 4-12 shooting including 1-6 from three-point line. Look, it is getting ridiculous when someone who has such a low percentage (38% from field) continues to shoot from the perimeter. Butler needs to take the ball to the basket and slash in the lanes. With Joakim playing the high post, if he would move without the ball he could get easy baskets cutting back door. Right now if I was guarding Jimmy Butler the way he’s shooting I would call him a cab if all he’s going to do is fire up threes all night. Just sayin. Come on Jimmy, get it together man!
Joakim Noah is going to have to get buckets for this team to win.
Joakim Noah if you look at his numbers actually looked good in this game. We here at Pippen Aint Easy go a little deeper than mere numbers. I remember during the west coast trip when the Bulls lost to the Golden State Warriors, Noah got down on himself for not being aggressive enough offensively. Well it happened again. Noah almost messed around and got a triple-double scoring nine points corralling 12 rebounds and passing out nine assists. Here’s my issue, out of the nine points, five came from the free throw line. Joakim Noah has to look for his shot more. 2-8 from the field is not going to do it. The Bulls offensively is a sum of its parts. When the other parts are shooting 34.5% from the field, that means Chicago needs Joakim to look for his offense more.
Here’s my three….Now learn from this!!!!
Kirk Hinrich and DJ Augustin shot a combined 6-23 from the floor. Russell Westbrook shot 5-14 from the floor for the Thunder. Westbrook scored 17 points got nine rebounds and nine assists. I watched Kirk Hinrich drop his head over and over in the 4th quarter when the Bulls couldn’t score for seven minutes. I have said this over and over. The Bulls had better find a way to shore up this weakness in the Bulls defense. Westbrook wore them both out. The leakage in the Bulls defense in the 4th started with the defense of the Bulls’ backcourt.