If a career night from Jimmy Butler is what it takes for the Chicago Bulls to beat the NBA’s worst team in overtime, then a lot of things are wrong in the stuttering Fred Hoiberg project.
The good news? Butler is the first player since Michael Jordan in 1993 to score over 50 points and dish out at least 5 assists in a game. Butler finished with 53 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists in 49 minutes of action, shooting 15-of-30 from the field and making 21-of-25 from the line. It’s the first 50-point game by a Bulls player since 2004 (Jamal Crawford), and most importantly, a stop to the Bulls three-game losing streak.
But with Derrick Rose out with knee tendonitis, which for most players wouldn’t sound so serious but whenever it happens to him you keep wondering whether or not his retirement is just around the corner, the Bulls got nothing from their other guards. Kirk Hinrich scored 5 points and Aaron Brooks finished with 2 points. Butler is the de facto point guard even half the time Rose is on the floor, and maybe this tells us of the need for a trade on Chicago’s part in order to improve their backcourt situation.
Pau Gasol didn’t play as well, giving the frustrated Joakim Noah a chance to start. He repaid the faith with 6 points, 16 rebounds and 8 assists but he turned the ball over 7 times, and his defense wasn’t as effective as it used to be not too long ago. The Bulls offense keeps looking disoriented and confused, even against the very bad defense by the 76ers, a team that’s now 4-37 this season, 2-16 at home.
The Bulls won 115-111, but were behind by four points with less than four minutes to go in overtime. E’Twaun Moore (showing how deep the Bulls had to dig) scored five points on a 7-0 run and overall 7 points in overtime to help the Bulls take over the game. He finished with 14 points, but time and time again the semi-talented shooting guard has proven that consistency isn’t a big part of his M.O, although we shouldn’t forget the Bulls have rarely been consistent in the minutes and role they’ve given him.
Another worrying thing for the Bulls is falling behind by as much as 24 in the first half. Yes, it says their mentality allows them to come back from big deficits, but considering the opponents and their recent set of results, this victory brought more things to worry about than things to celebrate. There’s always more in an NBA season than just what happens in one game, and the arrow is still pointing downwards for the Bulls.
So Butler had a career night, showing what he can do offensively. Noah put up some nice numbers, and Doug McDermott, after a bad run recently, finished with 17. But even with the absentees, a team as ambitious as the Bulls shouldn’t find itself in such a complicated scenario against the pitiful 76ers. If it wasn’t for something that happens once a season maybe for Butler, this would have been a fourth loss in a row, and their most embarrassing of the season.