The funny or maybe sad thing about the Chicago Bulls and their dependance on Derrick Rose is that it possibly was easier waiting for him to come back from injury than the wait for him to become a consistent, dominant point guard again, with the realization that it’s never going to happen still not completely sinking in.
The Bulls followed a very impressive Christmas day win against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a disappointing 118-111 loss in Dallas to the Mavericks, with Rose and Jimmy Butler each trying to take the blame on himself for losing the overtime game. Rose actually scored 25 points in one of his best games of the season while shooting 12-of-20 from the field, but kept a turnover he made in regulation stick with him well after the game was already over.
Butler, the more vocal of the two or anyone else on the Bulls recently, finished with 17 points on a poor 4-of-11 shooting night. He turned the ball over five times, so in his mind, there is no question regarding who was the one that cost his team the game, although like in any sporting event in a team sport, it’s not one player that can be blamed for everything that happened. Despite the loss, the Bulls did see two things that got their hopes up: Rose, and Nikola Mirotic both having a very good game.
Mirotic scored 23 points in his best game since Fred Hoiberg benched him and then brought him back into the lineup. He’s shooting 38.6% from the field this season, and if there’s a reason the Bulls aren’t pushing harder to trade one of their other big men, it might be because Mirotic still hasn’t shown he can handle the load of being the team’s go-to-guy in the frontcourt or as a stretch ‘4’. But maybe it was just the bad Mavericks defense that allowed all of this.
The Bulls have still lost four games out of their last five. They’re still trying to find a rhythm and consistency that will allow them to look good against teams that don’t necessarily play with true centers a more predictable kind of offense. This is a different league we’re in, and the Bulls are built in a weird way, but more than anything, waiting for Rose to become the star he was again or at least resemble him more often, and for a young hope like Mirotic to finally take his offense to a level it can be trusted.