The Chicago Bulls can’t ever be without anyone missing. Both Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose are out, but against a weak team like the Orlando Magic, just getting a big game from Jimmy Butler seems to be enough in providing the superiority en route to a 98-90 win.
Butler scored 21 points and was helped by Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol, both scoring 16 points, as they improved to 3-1, winning their first home game of the season. Aaron Brooks had a very good game off the bench with 13 points and 8 assists which included a big block on Nikola Vucevic and Doug McDermott added 12 points as he continues to have highs & lows, as expected from a rookie who relies mostly on his outside shooting.
The Bulls are in the beginning of a very tough stretch of four games in five nights. Tom Thibodeau wasn’t too pleased with what he saw from his team, but he knows that there’s no reason putting too much of an effort when you have to spread it around with a concentrated effort waiting for them. The Bulls aren’t as limited with their scoring options as they were last season, which includes their two rookies, McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, providing firepower and long range shooting off the bench, something the Bulls were missing.
There’s also the Gasol factor. He is averaging 18 points per game so far this season while shooting 47.4% from the field. He might not be the Gasol the Lakers had from 2008 to 2011, but he feels a lot more comfortable than he did with Mike D’Antonio coaching him, as the two had mutually hateful relationship they couldn’t wait to see end. Even when Noah isn’t playing, he gives the Bulls the kind of player who can do more than just fill the paint with his body. Points, rebounds and also excellent vision and decision making.
Jimmy Butler right now is a cut above the rest. He’s averaging a team-best 22.5 points per game that goes along with excellent defense and a lot more aggressiveness and confidence than before. He attacks the paint which got him to the line for 11 shots (made seven of them) and overall, he has no problem being the number one offensive option when necessary. It seems that his teammates have a lot more faith in him than before.
The Magic? Going nowhere, again. Tanking while developing those they feel like they can count on for years to come. Aaron Gordon is one of these players, but he had just six points off the bench. Vucevic scored 19 and Tobias Harris had 21. Oladipo wasn’t playing. Even with him, there are too many players the Magic have on the roster simply as cap fillers, waiting for this season to end, hoping for a high lottery pick that can further the transformation.