The Chicago Bulls needed to show some energy, to look alive for once. It happened to them in a 107-102 win on the road against the Sacramento Kings, without Jimmy Butler even playing. Is it what they need to get back on the right path again?
The win, only their fifth in the last 14 games, wasn’t a display of some offensive cohesion they’ve been looking for all season long. This wasn’t Derrick Rose coming back to that lost form of his (never to return on a consistent basis) or a second unit playing special kind of basketball. There was simply energy, enough communication on defense and shots dropping. Can we say that this was the beginning of something good? With the Bulls this season, it’s impossible to know.
The Bulls won this game early on. Butler complained after their loss to the Utah Jazz, a game the Bulls simply let slip away from their fingers in the end, that no one seems to care. If we can point the finger on one thing compared to their losses in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, is that the players looked like they cared. But effort and caring isn’t enough in this league. Playing good basketball and making shots goes a long way too.
From time to time, E’Twaun Moore shows he can be a pretty useful and important player for the Bulls. He had his moment last season in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. His 24-point performance in the win against the Kings, playing 38 minutes and featuring in the lineup instead of Butler, was once again an opportunity to solidify his status with the team, although it’s hard to tell what happens once Butler comes back after his knee heals up.
The Bulls shot 45.5% from the field. Not great, but they got open looks, and the ball did move more quickly than usual on offense. Derrick Rose turned the ball over seven times and Pau Gasol had six turnovers. They still did enough and more good than harm, with Rose scoring 21 points and Gasol finishing with 16 while grabbing 13 rebounds. The team is also missing Nikola Mirotic, so the 20 combined points from Tony Snell and Doug McDermott didn’t go unnoticed.
Bobby Portis scored 8 points while Taj Gibson looked good on both ends of the floor, finishing with 12 points and 8 rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins did get his 30 points, but the Kings found it easy to score only after the game got away from them. The Bulls played pretty good defense when it still mattered, which might be sign for things to come. But on a team that sometimes finds it difficult to get motivated for games (unless they’re playing LeBron James in some kind of jersey), the next mistake and slump is just around the corner. Maybe it’s a trust issue between players and their coach or between themselves, but before that issue is solved, the Bulls are headed towards a disappointing regular season, and another way too early playoff exit.