Both the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets haven’t had seasons that are going according to plan. The big difference? One team seems to still believe in their ability to go places this season, while the other looks like it has accepted its fate of being one of the worst teams in the NBA.
The Bulls came away with a 95-78 win, pulling off a second consecutive win, improving to 11-16. In the ridiculous East, that puts them one win away from entering the top 8 and becoming a playoff team if the postseason began today. The Nets, despite being only 9-19, are still only 2.5 games behind 8th place. But oh, how the moods are different.
The Bulls have been a roller coaster of emotions these last couple of years based on the health of their squad. Right now they’re only missing Luol Deng, because it’s almost impossible to remember Derrick Rose is actually a part of this team with the amount of games he’s missed over the last two and plus seasons. They got Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich back in the lineup, and although these were only the Nets, also troubled with missing Brook Lopez, the Bulls should be really happy with what they saw on the floor.
Taj Gibson was the best of the bunch, coming off the bench to score 20 points and 8 rebounds. The big differences in coaching weren’t the only thing keeping these teams apart. The Bulls’ frontcourt had no problem brushing aside whatever combo the Nets were putting on the floor, with Kevin Garnett at the center of this game’s failure, and being a pivotal piece of how this whole season is turning out to be one massive disaster.
Carlos Boozer had no problem operating down low, finishing with 14 points, as the Bulls scored 44 points in the paint and finished with a very rare solid shooting night of 48.2% from the field, as suddenly, with two good point guards to lean on in a healthy Hinrich and D.J. Augustin giving plenty of relief off the bench, the ball movement was a joy to watch at times, and there actually seemed to be a gameplan of sorts on the offensive end.
Jimmy Butler should have taken the next step towards stardom this season, but it hasn’t happened yet. However, his 15 point performance against the Nets was making a move in the right direction, with some excellent defense on Joe Johnson and looking sharp on the other end of the floor.
The Nets are busy explaining. Their losses, the awful form of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (6-of-32 from the field combined in the last two games). Jason Kidd says the team is getting accustomed to losing, which is true. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of spark or desire to get out of where they are. Players, most of them at the end of their careers, aren’t fighting for another contract. They’re content with the money they’re paid and where they seem to be. The Chicago Bulls are the complete opposite, which gives them every reason in the world to leave Christmas with a smile on their face and an optimistic feeling in their hearts.