After losing three games in a row, the Chicago Bulls needed a pick me up in the form of a tanking team like the Philadelphia 76ers to get back on the winning track. It still took them four quarters and overtime to beat the second worst team in the league 104-95.
The Bulls’ backcourt is a mess while both Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose are out. Aaron Brooks, for once, didn’t look like someone who is a bit out of his league when starting for the team. He scored 31 points while Pau Gasol added yet another double double to his long list of ones with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Joakim Noah wasn’t playing, so Nikola Mirotic got to be in the lineup, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
This is how bad it is for the Bulls right now, dressing only 10 players for this game. With Rose, Butler, Gibson and Noah not playing, that’s almost 57 points on average they need to make up for. It was also their fifth game in seven days, which meant no one was feeling very fresh. Brooks held it together with 18 points in the final quarter and overtime after looking inefficient and inaccurate through the first three quarters.
The Sixers? They keep tracking little milestones and achievements while Sam Hinkie is telling the world to trust his plan of hoarding draft picks and simply basing his entire ‘analytics’ approach on dumb luck in the draft or perhaps free agency, although it’s hard to believe free agents are really rubbing their hands together in promise of playing in Philadelphia, despite the money they have the ability to offer without any second or third-tier player in this league.
Despite the win, the Bulls aren’t looking at their best right now. Too many missing parts, all of them key members of a team that when playing in a full, healthy lineup, something that has rarely happened this season, is good enough to beat and hang with anyone in this league, including in a series.
Sure, Pau Gasol has been surprisingly sturdy and efficient. Nikola Mirotic is going to finish second in Rookie of the Year voting. Aaron Brooks is a great backup point guard to have. Tony Snell has really improved this season, and the Bulls have more coming from their bench, contributing from time to time. However, it’s impossible to shake off the feeling of yet another wasted season, unless everyone come back in time to do some damage in the playoffs.