If there’s ever a time to run some tests and experiment, it’s against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Chicago Bulls made some changes to their lineup and it didn’t look bad but frankly. against the worst team in the NBA you can never tell if it really means something.
The Bulls won 115-96 with Taj Gibson starting for Nikola Mirotic. Gibson scored 6 points in 22 minutes while Mirotic, coming off the bench, finished with 17. The team was led by Jimmy Butler, scoring 23 points in 29 minutes, while Tony Snell had 16 points (15 in the second half). Others in double figures were Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, both scoring 13 points. Joakim Noah had 5 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists in only 22 minutes.
And Derrick Rose? He played ill, and although Fred Hoiberg thought about sitting him for the entire second half, he did use him for nine minutes. As a lot of the time in recent weeks, the Bulls looked better when he wasn’t playing, although this time there’s a valid excuse. But in any case, it was another far from impressive performance in a terrible season for the former MVP, scoring 6 points and adding 4 assists in 26 minutes.
The 76ers aren’t worth talking about at this point. Not without Nerlens Noel playing, leaving Jahlil Okafor to fend for himself. The rookie did score 22 points, but once again you look at the collection of players on this team and the kind of offense they’re playing, and you’re wondering how come Sam Hinkie still has people believing his promises and why did Brett Brown get a contract extension? The Sixers are embarrassing, but at least they’re a guaranteed win for anyone who plays them.
And they provide a nice opportunity for teams to try things out. It’s almost as if there’s a D-League team inside the NBA for the rest of the league to work out against. The Los Angeles Lakers might also be considered part of this revolutionary development system, only their case might be sadder, as they’re led by a combination of cluelessness and megalomania. Meanwhile, the Bulls, winning three in a row, are hoping recent success actually means their moving forward, and not just treading on the same ground.