The Chicago Bulls are moving from one streak to the other, this time beginning what looks like a bad losing one, adding a loss to the Washington Wizards, a team with a loss of absent players, to the collection, once again showcasing some very bad defense.
The Bulls lost 114-100 after losing 120-105 to the Atlanta Hawks, giving up 119.3 points per 100 possessions in one of their worst defensive performances of the season, with the return of Joakim Noah not helping out. Noah played 19 minutes and finished with 0 points and 0-for-7 from the field, and although the defense was slightly better when he was on the floor, his long absence kept him out of sync with the offense that was clicking until the beginning of this week.
The backcourt with Derrick Rose (23 points, 8-of-13 from the field) and Jimmy Butler (19 points, 6-of-15 from the field) wasn’t the reason, at least offensively, for this issue. But as Gasol said after the game, the Bulls are inconsistent when it comes to defending as a unit this season, and it showed against the Wizards, who had seven players in double figures, led by John Wall with 17 points and Ramon Sessions scoring 16. Both of them had a very easy time finding open lanes and comfortable spots to shoot and navigate from.
While Noah remains a defensive anchor when healthy, he’s often injured and on offense, it’s sometimes like having one less player on the floor. The Bulls might be better off with trading him for someone who can provide the thing everyone is looking for these days (3 & D), to help out on the perimeter, which is weak defensively, as the Bulls can’t seem to recreate the thing that they were known for the most during Tom Thibodeau’s tenure as the head coach.
Panic isn’t something the Bulls are in right now. Two losses in a row happen to anyone in this league except the Warriors and the Spurs. But the problems that have been following them all season long, even through the previous win streak, aren’t going away anytime soon. Maybe it means more work from Fred Hoiberg in the time he has with the players between games but it might eventually be about changing personnel, as hard as it is to accept that kind of change.