This is supposed to be the year Jimmy Butler makes the step from role player to borderline star for the Chicago Bulls. It hasn’t been working out that great so far, mostly because of injuries, but his performance in the road win over the Memphis Grizzlies suggests there’s still hope he’ll turn things around.
In the up and down season the Bulls are having, which includes 20 point wins over the Miami Heat and losing to the Dallas Mavericks at home by the same margin, nothing is surprising. So anything could have happened in their 95-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, a game that was about big runs like 20-4 for the Bulls when they opened the second half or the 24-8 run by the Grizzlies late in the third and early in the fourth.
It came down to who made a few more plays, and surprising as it might be, the Bulls have a bit more talent on offense than the Grizzlies, sorely missing Marc Gasol on both ends of the floor and in pretty much every aspect of their game. Mike Conley is doing his best while Zach Randolph has his moments of being more than a one-dimensional post player, but those fade away quickly against teams with a bit of intelligence and thinking during a specific game.
Butler scored a season high of 26 points, hitting 6-of-10 from the field and 12-of-14 from the line. The Bulls weren’t playing the best game of basketball imaginable, turning the ball over 20 times and having only 16 assists on their 28 field goals, but they did a good job in getting to the line and attacking the rim, even when things weren’t working out perfectly. Their defense sorted out the rest.
I’m getting real comfortable. I sat down with a few of the vets, and they just talked to me and told me to play my game and have fun. When you have fun, everything else takes care of itself.
Butler wasn’t alone in the impressive offensive line, as Carlos Boozer continued with his up & down form scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He’s averaging 15 points per game this season, but it’s been three weeks since the last time he had a 20-point performance, struggling to have successful scoring performances one after the other.
The play of the game belonged to D.J. Augustin who wasn’t having the most efficient of days, but he does provide the Bulls with a bit of unpredictability they sorely miss in their offensive scheme. Some ball wizadry for him set up Taj Gibson for a nice finish, as Gibson had a quiet day of 9 points and 3 rebounds off the bench. Augustin dished out nine assists, scoring 10 points off the bench as well.
As for the Grizzlies? Their best player is injured, like Chicago’s. However, while the Bulls have gotten used to life without Rose, it’s different in Memphis, who instead of competing for the top spots in the West are trying to leave themselves close enough to the 8th spot for when Gasol returns at some point, hopefully not too late for them to join the race.
We played poorly. We played poor in the first half and worse in the third quarter. It was awful. We threw the ball all over the place. We lacked focus. We lacked screening and cutting. We were loose with the ball.