It’s hard to decide what the biggest set of news is for the Chicago Bulls right now: The fact that they’ve won five games in a row while Jimmy Butler is scorching, or that Derrick Rose, back in action after missing three games, looked good, which is a huge source of optimism.
The Bulls won 117-106 against the Milwaukee Bucks behind another fantastic effort from the starting lineup, scoring 99 of the 117 points. Butler scored 32 on 11-of-21 from the field on 10 assists, suggesting the Bulls might be floating towards making him more and more of a playmaker, which might make things easier for Derrick Rose. Rose scored 16 points to go with 6 assists while showing a moment or two of “vintage” athleticism from him. He’s averaging 20 points per game in his last four appearances.
Pau Gasol scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while dishing out five assists, Nikola Mirotic scored 14 points and Taj Gibson finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks, with the Bulls rejecting the Bucks 10 times in this game (3 for Gasol as well). Tony Snell and Bobby Portis each had 8 points off the bench, as the absence of Joakim Noah seems to go unnoticed for now, suggesting the Bulls might need to offload someone (possibly him) at some point before the trade deadline.
The Bulls have scored over 100 points in eight consecutive games, which is pretty much since Butler sorta called out his coach. Now he’s slightly retreating from that statement, suggesting it’s been more about rallying the players to stick together, which has worked well, despite injuries and the changing lineups. Fred Hoiberg, it seems for the first time in his short time as the Bulls head coach, finally has something special going on offense.
Once the dust settles, the Bulls should find themselves as the number two team in the East by a small margin from the rest, but that’s probably their natural place. Besides the wins, seeing Butler look like the complete and maybe best guard in the Eastern conference while Rose, when healthy, looks more and more comfortable with the new reality, is wonderful news for the Bulls, who obviously believe they have what it takes to end the LeBron James run to the NBA finals streak, this time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.