How the Bulls Shook Their Fourth Quarter Woes on Saturday Night vs. New Orleans


The Chicago Bulls finished the previous week with two victories over Western Conference opponents, including snapping out of their little funk during fourth quarters in the week. Here’s how the Bulls survived a shorthanded New Orleans team.

Through the first three quarters on Saturday night, the Chicago Bulls scored no more than 22 points against a New Orleans Pelicans that gives up more points than any team in the league and allows opposing offenses to shoot 46.3 percent from the field.

In the final quarter of the night, the Bulls shot 13-for-20 (65 percent) from the field and scored 34 points to pick up their 13th win of the year, 98-94.

Aaron Brooks scored 15(!) of his 17 points in the game during the fourth quarter and Derrick Rose hit a fadeaway dagger over fellow Chicago native Anthony Davis to seal the win.

But, how did the Bulls get there?

Let’s take a look back at how the Bulls saved their best for last for a change on Saturday night.

The Bulls started quickly for a change

One of the issues with the Bulls during their up-and-down start this season has been how they’ve started things out. They’re usually sluggish in the early going, but on Saturday night, they came out guns blazing down six points with a Doug McDermott triple and a stern defensive possession on the other end.

Within the first four offensive possessions of the quarter, the Bulls went from a 70-64 deficit to a 73-70 lead in less than three minutes, thanks to Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks. Efficient? Yes. Unlikely? Very.

Hinrich’s three-pointer forced New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry to take a full timeout with 9:42 left in the quarter.

2013-14 Joakim Noah showed up

Joakim Noah explodes past Anthony Davis for a dunk?

That happened?

Yes. Yes it did.

This is becoming a bigger play in the playbook, yeah?

You see it on different parts of the floor, but Jimmy Butler beating his man on a backdoor lob is becoming a common trend early this season.

It happened more than once on Saturday, too.

But seriously…

Aaron Brooks was playing NBA Jam on Saturday

Brooks tied the game with this, uh … hook shot with 3:38 left.

Then on the next possession, Derrick Rose drove the lane, kicked to Pau Gasol, who made the right play by kicking to the hot hand (Brooks), and Brooks drained the three.

So of course, Brooks — who was a ball of fire at the time — hits this in crunch time.

No. 1

This season has been a bad one for Derrick Rose so far this season, but he’s still showing the ability to make the big shots late in the game.

The Bulls were clinging to a two-point lead in the final seconds and Rose stuck the final dagger in any thought of New Orleans winning their second game on the road this year.

Related Story: No mask and a new haircut for Derrick Rose?

Last week, FiveThirtyEight’s Kirk Goldsberry wrote a column on Rose’s struggles and it featured the chart you see below.

Look where Rose took this shot against Davis and look how efficient Rose is from that area compared to the rest of his shot chart.

Rose got to “his spot” on the floor and drained a difficult jumper to seal the deal for the Bulls.

A couple tidbits from the quarter:

  • With the game tied at 94, there was a play that stuck out from the Bulls on the defensive end. Joakim Noah made life hard for Anthony Davis the entire time they were matched up together. This play (with no foul call) was no different.

The contest and recovery from Noah was strong here, but there was a lot of a contact. The Bulls got lucky Davis wasn’t shooting two free throws; something that the Bulls has a distinctive advantage in on Saturday.

  • The Bulls are the best team in the league in terms of their opponent field goal percentage (41 percent). But sometimes, you get lucky. Here’s the look Eric Gordon got after Aaron Brooks’ go-ahead layup and before Derrick Rose’s dagger.

You can’t ask for a better look.

Next: Is Doug McDermott Primed for a Breakout?

Final thoughts:

The Bulls still have plenty of work to do. That’s not breaking news. They’re one of the worse offensive teams in the league and one of the best on defense. This story has been told before.

But, something that stuck out other than Fred Hoiberg rolling with a three-guard unit of Rose/Butler/Brooks late, was the play of Joakim Noah.

Noah’s been the heart and soul of this team for years and it appears that he’s finding that ability to be a positive spark again. He looks springy and energized, unlike last season’s disaster run. A big reason why Anthony Davis shot 8-for-24 on Saturday night was because of Noah’s defense.

It’ll be interesting to see how Hoiberg tries to find more minutes for Noah in a busy week for the Bulls. They’ll play four games during the current week, including a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against Detroit and New York.