After pretty much hitting rock bottom following five consecutive losses, the Chicago Bulls seem to be getting back to the kind of basketball they should be playing, relying on Derrick Rose playing his best basketball in quite some time with players around him stepping up to try and turn this season around.
The Bulls win two in a row for the first time since January 8. Since that win over the Boston Celtics, they’ve gone 7-14, including two wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, not exactly the most formidable defense or team present, but someone who can help players build some confidence and momentum while adding to their stats without too much problems. The Bulls, like most teams in the league, didn’t let the Kobe Bryant festival get to them.
Derrick Rose was on top of things, scoring 24 points. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about how Rose should change his game. Be more physical, rely on his size, less on his quickness, stop shooting the ball. Rose was one of the few Bulls players who didn’t chime in on the three-pointer party. Chicago shot 68.4% from beyond the arc (13-of-19), but Rose attacked the rim and kept things closer to home, as many thinks he should. He’s been great the last three games, averaging 26 points while shooting 57.4% from the field. Old Rose? Good Rose, that’s about what the Bulls need while Jimmy Butler is still out with a knee problem, and who knows what else.
But as nice as it is to win two in a row while E’Twaun Moore scored 24 as well, Pau Gasol had 21 points in a night he seemed to be more emotional than Bryant, feeling he owes him something as the “host” of Bryant’s goodbye from the United Center (where he mostly lost in recent years) and even Bobby Portis scored 17 points with a combination of inside power and surprising outside accuracy, the Bulls need to look at their win over the Toronto Raptors two nights before, and not their afternoon stroll against the Lakers, as the standard for what comes next.
Because as good as it feels to stop the losing, Chicago are still only three games above .500, complicating things quite badly for themselves. From definitely being in the playoffs, it’s not something they’re probably going to fight for right up until the very end unless they avoid long losing streaks and build up a nice winning streak of their own in the very near future. The defense is still suspect, while the offense is always one bad game away from entering a weird, inexplicable slump.
The Bulls have decided they’re not tanking the season, once again, even though it’s hard to see them doing a whole lot in the playoffs. Not with the Cleveland Cavaliers walking and breathing this world. But offensive consistency more than anything else is what should be their focus from now on. Rose leading the charge is good and even more than that. But guys like McDermott, the finally returning Mike Dunleavy and anyone else in charge of spreading the floor and making shots holds the key to this team finally playing the kind of basketball the Bulls were hoping for when they hired Fred Hoiberg.