After picking up seven consecutive wins and every superlative along the way, the Chicago Bulls inexplicably shut down at home against the Brooklyn Nets, losing 96-82 after a horrific shooting performance from both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.
Brook Lopez tends to do well against the Bulls and Joakim Noah, although Chicago had two wins by a combined 43 points against the Nets this season. Lopez scored 29 points on 13-of-21 from the field while Joe Johnson, taking advantage of Jimmy Butler struggling on defense (by his own admission for a second consecutive night), scored 20 points, finishing with a rare double double, grabbing 11 rebounds as well.
The real story was how well the Nets defended, or to be more accurate, how badly the Bulls were shooting. Derrick Rose finished with just four points on 2-of-15 from the field. Jimmy Butler scored 8 points, missing nine of 12 shots. Pau Gasol was 4-of-12 with 10 points. When the three top scorers on a team combine to score just 22 points on 23.1% shooting, you’re not just going to lose every time, but you’re probably going to get blown out.
Mike Dunleavy scored 23 points to lead the Bulls on an off night that didn’t harm them all that much after both the Wizards and the Raptors lost on the road, which means they remain at the same distance from the top spot in the conference. But with Rose shooting just 20% from the field over the last two games and the Bulls shutting down offensively after the end of the first quarter can’t be just explained by a bad night.
The Nets felt very good with themselves after holding the Bulls to just 13 offensive rebounds. It’s not that the Nets’ offense did too well: Deron Williams and Mirza Teletovic shot a combined 2-of-17 from the field, but the Nets were at their best during their minutes on the floor. As bad as Derrick Rose was, the game wasn’t lost when he was on the floor, but during other alignments.
There are bad nights that happen from time to time in the long, 82-game NBA Season. After a streak of seven wins, that’s more than understandable. But the Bulls have had quite a few “off” nights when it comes to offense and shooting. You expect their scrappiness and defense to hold them in games such as these. But with the improvement in offense comes a change of identity to a team. Maybe these Bulls have changed too much, which means that in bad, or should we say awful shooting nights such as these, there’s no hope to fight back in other ways.