A lot of comfortable wins means plenty of opportunities for Tony Snell to score some garbage time points and work his way into the more meaningful rotation minutes, leading the Chicago Bulls in a 87-71 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, highlights by his team’s dominance on the offensive glass.
Snell scored 20 points to lead the Bulls, the fourth time this month the second-year small forward has scored 19 points or more in a game. He made 7-of-11 shots including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, playing 31 minutes off the bench. He’s averaging 14.3 points on 29.9 minutes a night in February, and has seen a significant boost in his minutes since the beginning of January after barely getting playing time through the first two months of the season.
The Bulls dominated the offensive glass with 18 rebounds and 62 overall. Pau Gasol scored 15 points to go with 10 rebounds while Joakim Noah, scoring 8 points, grabbed 16 boards, including six offensive ones. Nikola Mirotic also finished with a double double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, not getting too much from their backcourt but for once not actually needing either Jimmy Butler or Derrick Rose to step up. Gasol was constantly double teamed in this game, but had no problem handling the defensive pressure.
Butler was the less bad of the two, scoring 11 points and adding 9 rebounds as the Bucks gave everyone an opportunity to pad up their stats by shooting 33.7% from the field, most of their attempts coming on long 2’s and barely finding a way into the paint, shooting only 13 free throws and making 7 of them. Rose was probably the worst Bulls player on the court, scoring just 8 points while shooting 1-of-13 from the field, but at least he had an opportunity to share the wealth, adding 8 assists.
The Bulls caught the Bucks at the right time. While the Bucks aren’t even close to losing their playoff status (31-25 is incredible in the East), trading away Brandon Knight and waiting for Michael Carter-Williams to make his debut and overall needing some time to get their offense in sync again means some more losses and disappointing performances in terms offense are on the way, something head coach Jason Kidd is expecting to continue. Carter-Williams will probably make his debut on Wednesday.
The Bulls are doing well in February, winning six of their eight games so far. It’s going to be difficult catching up with the Hawks, but anything in the 2-3-4 seeds is possible, right now holding a one game advantage over the Cavaliers and trailing the inconsistent Raptors by 1.5 games. The talk of this group making a run for a championship hasn’t stopped since the start of this season, but we’re going to need to see more until we’re all convinced this just might be the year.