On some nights the Chicago Bulls look like the best and deepest team in the NBA. On others? Like a group of guys barely familiar with the game of basketball, losing 97-77 at home to the Utah Jazz, which ends a three-game win streak.
This isn’t the first confusing result we’ve seen the Bulls “pull off” recently. Their seven game win streak in December was halted by a 96-82 loss at home to the Brooklyn Nets. After three home wins and a fantastic performance against the Houston Rockets, including some time to rest, the Bulls simply didn’t show up offensively, once again at home, hitting only 33.3% from the field and struggling against the combination of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors in the paint.
The Bulls were held to only 32 points in the first half and couldn’t get things going until well into garbage time, scoring 19 points in the third quarter and reaching 26 in the fourth quarter, but gave up 34. Jimmy Butler led them with 16 points and Taj Gibson added 15 from the bench. But they scored just 36 points in the paint, blocked five times by Gobert. Joakim Noah scored just one point and Pau Gasol was limited to 13. Kirk Hinrich didn’t provide a suitable solution to the shooting issue, finishing with 0 points. The Bulls need Dunleavy back in the lineup.
Derrick Rose continues his terrible form of recent games. He shot just 3-of-15 from the field to finish with 7 points. He’s making only 25.5% from the field over the last six games, interestingly coming after a short period of dominance, especially in the fourth quarter. While no injury is always good news for the Bulls when it comes to Rose, Still, having the key to their championship run playing this badly is never good, showing just how fragile the line seems to be between a full comeback and becoming a point guard who often does more harm than good.
The Jazz at 13-23 aren’t going anywhere this season, but more often than not they’re quite fun to watch. Derrick Favors was hitting shots from everywhere, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds, showing why some think he should be in the All-Star game discussion. Gordon Hayward scored 18 points, Trey Burke was great with 17 and Gobert finished with 11 points and 5 blocks while Trevor Booker scored 15 points. They’re still waiting for Dante Exum, however, to show why they took him so early in the draft.
One loss and one bad game doesn’t take a team out of the running. In a full lineup and rotation the Bulls are the best in the East, but they’re still looking at Atlanta from below, making these inexcusable performances something that comes along too often. Who’d imagine that despite all of the offensive improvements and additions, this Bulls team will all of a sudden become dependent on streaky shooting, instead of relying on what used to be almost impregnable defense, and work their way up from there.