What to Watch For: Bulls-Hornets


Last Tuesday night, the Charlotte Hornets embarrassed the Chicago Bulls to the tune of 130 points and a 25-point blowout. On Friday night in Chicago, the Bulls will get a chance at retribution against the Hornets. Here’s a few things to watch for in the rematch.

Since Oct. 30 in Detroit, the Chicago Bulls have alternated between the win and loss columns. While beating the likes of Orlando, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia, the Bulls have faltered against Detroit, Minnesota and the Charlotte Hornets.

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The Hornets flat-out outplayed and outworked the Bulls on Nov. 3 in Charlotte. Seven different Hornets scored in double figures, led by Jeremy Lamb‘s 20 points in the 130-105 beatdown of the Bulls. Since then, the Hornets have won three of their last four games after starting 0-3.

“You don’t want to lose the way that you lost, obviously,” Butler said on Thursday. “And you don’t forget about that dude [Brian Roberts] that went down there and shot that ball at the end of the game. I don’t forget that. I think that’s just disrespectful. It is what it is though. We got to handle business [Friday].”

In the final seconds of the 25-point loss for the Bulls, Brian Roberts did this:

It’s clear that Jimmy Butler has some motivation heading into Friday night’s rematch. Along with Butler’s personal grudge, here’s a couple things to watch for when the two teams take the floor again in Chicago.

Where will the effort level be at for the Bulls?

Sure, Charlotte shot 51.6 percent from the field on Nov. 3 (while also shooting 14-for-23 from long range), but the Bulls’ lack of energy was noticeable from the first couple of possessions.

The Bulls found themselves down 17-9 inside the first six minutes of the first meeting and gave up 37 points in the opening quarter alone. Nobody expects to see the Hornets shoot almost 52 percent from the field again, but the Bulls have to be active defensively this time around.

These kind of shots can’t be a common thing again:

Another chance for the Bulls’ dynamic duo to bounce back and produce

In the last game for the Bulls — which seems like it was an eternity ago — Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler didn’t exactly put on their best performances. The duo combined for 20 points on 8-of-20 shooting on Monday night in Philadelphia. It was the Sixers, so to mark this one in the “lack of effort” column would make sense.

Rose and Butler did produce 12 assists and 11 rebounds combined in the blowout over Philadelphia. Although with the rest of the guard rotation in the first meeting, Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb torched the Bulls. Butler’s already stating how ready he is for this rematch, but what will we see from Rose, Brooks, Moore and the newly-activated Kirk Hinrich?

How healthy is Joakim Noah?

Joakim Noah was a late scratch on Monday night due to soreness in his left knee (the surgically-repaired left knee). Noah won’t start (like he was slated to on Monday against Philadelphia), but he will play on Friday night against the Hornets.

Here’s Fred Hoiberg (via K.C. Johnson) from after Thursday’s practice:

"Noah declined to address reporters. Is Hoiberg worried Noah may get upset about his role?“The big thing is having that open dialogue and being able to talk to him about that,” Hoiberg said. “He obviously still has a very important role and his minutes have steadily been going up before that last game, and we were going to make the change in the lineup for Jo to be out there early on. So he’s still going to have a big role, whether he’s starting or whether he’s coming off the bench.”Noah had a piece of cartilage removed in May 2014. Hoiberg said this is Noah’s first setback this season and he feels “100 percent better than in Philadelphia.”"

Next: Bulls-Hornets Film Room: Yeah, it was bad

Tip-off between the Bulls and Hornets is scheduled for 7:00 PM CT on Comcast SportsNet Chicago for the locals, with a replay slated to start at 12:30 AM CT.