The disappointing season of the Chicago Bulls is turning into a dumpster fire that will land them straight out of the playoffs, which in its latest installment was another subpar performance from the semi-injured Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose trying to save the sinking ship on his own.
Rose has been playing well lately. He’s looking more athletic and faster than he’s been in a while, scoring 30 points as the Bulls lost 106-94 to the New York Knicks. Two nights in a row getting torched by the Knicks (221 points in both games) is a bit too much to swallow for a team that started off this season thinking it might have an outside chance of winning a championship. All that without making a single roster change except adding Bobby Portis in the draft.
But Portis isn’t a player who is consistent or can contribute right away. And Joakim Noah got injured. Pau Gasol has more knee problems and didn’t play against the Knicks. Taj Gibson is playing injured. Mike Dunleavy has a broken back. Jimmy Butler isn’t 100% despite playing. Rose is suddenly the healthiest key player around. But it’s not enough. Not when the Bulls look nothing like a team built on heart, hustle and playing smart, reacting defense. Points are too easy against them, and while it’s nice to see Rose doing some spectacular stuff which make us remember why he looked so special during his 2008-2011 healthy run, the Bulls need a lot more than 20-30 points from their point guard each night.
The playoffs are looking more and more distant. They’re 1.5 games behind 8th spot (Detroit Pistons) and have the wrong kind of momentum with 11 games left to play. Fred Hoiberg hasn’t been able to make this team look like the one he and the guys who hired him envisioned. The ball movement is rarely there. The joy, Joie de vivre, which should be a part of how this offense looks, rarely pops up. These aren’t just injuries. This is a group of guys that often don’t look like they like playing with each other too much.
Butler scored 19 points and shot 7-for-15 from the field. Not bad. But the Bulls needed more from him while Nikola Mirotic looked nothing like the player he was 24 hours earlier, scoring just 9 points on 2-for-9 from the field. Aaron Brooks is losing his ability to have some influence on the game when coming off the bench and Doug McDermott, relying more on others than himself, had just one point in 14 minutes, with Hoiberg changing and shuffling things, trying to save this season.
While the Bulls didn’t tank, the end result of this season will be a lottery pick. Considering the wrong way this roster has been built and some of the players hitting free agency once this season ends, it might not be such a bad idea. The Bulls need a change. Maybe not a drastic one, but some fresh blood and players who make more sense in what they’re trying to run. A healthier Butler and overall a happier and more committed sense of team can work wonders. What they have right now simply isn’t it, although using injuries as an excuse works too.