The Chicago Bulls are struggling to put a winning streak together again, losing 121-114 at home to the Orlando Magic, led by monster nights from Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo.
The duo finished with 33 points each, while Vucevic grabbed 11 rebounds as well, making it his 23rd double double of the season. The Magic shot 59.3% from the field and had 58 points in the paint, while the Bulls simply couldn’t keep up, making only 8-of-27 from beyond the arc. Pau Gasol was great with 28 points and 17 rebounds; Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler weren’t bad either. But the defense was bad and without getting stops, the Bulls simply weren’t up for the chase.
So it means that it’s another home loss to a losing team. Something isn’t working, and it might come from being a little bit complacent going into these games. Just the opposite of what we’ve come to expect from the Bulls of recent years.
Tom Thibodeau knows what’s not working. He calls it working harder, but he means defense, and he means that this team, a lot better offensively than the Bulls have been for the last two years, needs to put an effort to get back to basics. Even with that improved offense, Thibodeau thinks that having the approach of outscoring opponents instead of stopping them and then worrying about scoring points isn’t the right way to go.
You can tell coach is frustrated, which he has every right to be. I wouldn’t say the guys are frustrated, but it’s irritating to lose these games and make these games harder than they should be. Derrick Rose actually had one of his better games in quite some time with 18 points (8-of-15 from the field) and 7 assists, but his form over the last few weeks, even through wins, hasn’t been exactly encouraging.
The Chicago Bulls, just like most teams in the East except for the Atlanta Hawks, suffer from a sometimes difficult to comprehend swings in ability. Maybe it’s reasonable: The entire league, including the Western teams except for the Warriors, can’t seem to show consistency that’s “worthy” of a championship contender. Maybe that is what’s so great about this season – there really is no idea who are the three or four likely teams to end up in late May and early June playing for the title.
The Bulls should be there. With Rose healthy (and everyone else as well) they have a deep team with stars in the lineup, a potentially very good defense, solid rebounding, outside shooting compared to recent years, leadership in experience. The complete package, and yet it’s still not connecting every night. Maybe it was just the Orlando Magic having a rare shooting night and nothing more, but maybe there’s a bigger problem than just ‘putting in more of an effort’.