Chicago Bulls: Rapid Reaction
NEW YORK -- Let's take a quick look at how the New York Knicks earned a 100-89 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
How it happened: Tim Hardaway Jr. had 20 points to lead the Knicks, while Raymond Felton added 14 points and seven assists as New York snapped the Bulls' seven-game winning streak. Joakim Noah was the bright spot again for the Bulls and came up just short of another triple double in racking up 13 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists. With the loss, the Bulls fall back into the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference behind the Toronto Raptors. They only have two regular-season games left.
What it means: This was a bad loss for the Bulls. If it means in a few days they get out of a potential showdown with the Miami Heat in the second round, then it could be a blessing in disguise. But that would mean they get past a solid Brooklyn Nets team in the first round. The reality for the Bulls is that they didn't play well on either end and turned the ball over way too many times to beat a Knicks team already eliminated from playoff contention. Tom Thibodeau is going to hate the way his team failed to execute in this one; they simply didn't play defense and take care of the ball the way they have been lately.
Hits: Jimmy Butler had a solid game, chipping in with 16 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Misses: D.J. Augustin was just 3-for-13 from the field.
Stat of the night: Turnovers: Bulls 16-Knicks 9.
What's next: The Bulls get right back at it when they take on the Orlando Magic on Monday night at the United Center.
ATLANTA -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls earned a 105-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night at Phillips Arena.
How it happened: D.J. Augustin had another big game for the Bulls, going off for 23 points and five assists. Kirk Hinrich added 17 points, six assists and three rebounds, as the Bulls grinded out another win. Paul Millsap paced the Hawks with 22 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn't enough for an Atlanta team that continues its late-season slide.
What it means: For the third straight game, the Bulls tightened things up in the final 12 minutes and clamped down on their opponent just enough to pull away at the end. The difference lately has been the attention to defense in the fourth quarter. Augustin has acknowledged there is a different pace late in the game, and he feels his team picks up its intensity. That was the case again on Wednesday, as the Bulls didn't allow the Hawks to get into any kind of offensive rhythm. Augustin continues to lead the way offensively for the Bulls and is growing even more confident every game. He believes he's going to hit all the big shots, and his teammates trust that he'll be able to ice wins.
Hits: Joakim Noah chipped in with 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Misses: Jimmy Butler had 17 points, but he was just 6-for-16 from the field.
Stat of the night: The win marks the 200th career victory of Tom Thibodeau's coaching career.
What's next: The Bulls head home to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Dallas Mavericks earned a 105-83 win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at the United Center.
How it happened: Monta Ellis scored 22 points and dished out five assists while Vince Carter chipped in with 18 points off the bench as the Mavs cruised to a victory. Joakim Noah had a nice effort with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as the Bulls struggled to keep pace all night.
What it means: The Bulls appeared to be moving forward after victories in their previous two games, but Saturday night served as a reality check. Chicago continues to have problems scoring and controlling the pace, but against quality opponents the margin of error is so small that if an opponent goes on a run -- as the Mavs did in the first half -- the Bulls have little chance to get back in the game. In order to avoid more games like this, coach Tom Thibodeau must find a way to create more offense for a team that has struggled to score, even when Derrick Rose was healthy.
Hits: Taj Gibson and D.J. Augustin combined for 24 points off the Bulls bench.
Misses: Rookie Tony Snell was 0-for-8 from the field.
Stats of the night: The Bulls and Mavs combined for 34 turnovers. The Mavs shot 52.6 percent from the field and 13-for-26 from beyond the arc.
What's next: The Bulls visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.
How it happened: The Bulls ran into a team having more trouble scoring the basketball than they were. On the flip side, Chicago sorely outhustled a Brooklyn squad that couldn't stop the Bulls from scoring, either. Chicago, known for struggling offensively, shot 50 percent from the field, with seven players scoring in double figures led by Taj Gibson, who dropped 20 points and added eight rebounds. Brooklyn shot 35 percent from the field for the game, managing just two field goals in a 15-point second quarter.
D.J. Augustin continued his solid play with 13 points and five assists. Kirk Hinrich had 6 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds in 20 minutes in his return.
What it means: Not much. The Bulls (11-16) used a 23-6 run in the third quarter to pull away from the Nets (9-19), now losers of four straight. Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd said before the game that his team "is getting very close to just accepting losing." Once Chicago pulled away at the end of the third, the game appeared to be over.
Hits: Jimmy Butler returned from his sprained right ankle and scored 15 points on 4-for-9 shooting with 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Misses: The Bulls allowed Mirza Teletovic to score Brooklyn's first 10 second-half points before rallying to take over the game in the third quarter.
Stat of the night: Chicago finished the game shooting 48.6 percent from the field.
What's next: The Bulls head home to take on the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Toronto Raptors earned a 99-77 win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at the United Center.
How it happened: DeMar DeRozan had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Raptors. Luol Deng, who missed the past four games because of an Achilles injury, had 17 points and seven rebounds, but it wasn't enough for a Bulls team that continues to have problems generating any offense.
What it means: The Bulls have played bad basketball over the past few weeks. Aside from their last-second win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Tom Thibodeau's team can't find a way to get into a rhythm. The Bulls have problems scoring points, and they have problems making stops when they need them. This is as bad of a rut as the Bulls have been in since Thibodeau came to Chicago more than three years ago. The most deflating part for Thibodeau has to be that his team just seemed to roll over down the stretch in this one. Granted, it was playing its fourth game in five nights, but the pride it showed in Friday night's win in Milwaukee was missing down the stretch Saturday.
Hits: Joakim Noah had 10 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
Misses: Carlos Boozer was 4-for-18 from the field.
Stat of the night: The Bulls shot 36 percent from the field.
What's next: The Bulls take on the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
MILWAUKEE -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls squeaked out a 91-90 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
How it happened: Mike Dunleavy banked in a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to win the game for the Bulls. Joakim Noah had a huge night for the Bulls, going off for 21 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks and a crucial tie-up late in the game to force a jump ball. Gary Neal led the Bucks with 17 points, but it wasn't enough as the Bucks wilted down the stretch.
What it means: After repeatedly finding ways to lose games over the past few weeks, the Bulls found a way to win this one. Dunleavy made the huge shot, but it was the Bulls' fight all the way to the end that helped pull this out. Anyone who thinks the Bulls are going to try to tank this season should go back and watch this one. Tom Thibodeau won't let it happen.
Hits: After missing the past 11 games, Jimmy Butler looked solid in his return, scoring 16 points and playing with the type of energy the Bulls have been missing.
Misses: D.J. Augustin was 0-for-3 in his Bulls debut.
Stat of the night: The Bulls outscored the Bucks 29-21 in the fourth quarter.
What's next: The Bulls are right back at it Saturday night when they take on the Toronto Raptors.
CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Miami Heat cruised to an 88-65 win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night at the United Center in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Heat lead the series 3-1.
How it happened: LeBron James had 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists as the Heat had their way with the Bulls throughout the night. Chris Bosh added 14 points and six rebounds as Miami took a commanding lead in this series. Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but he was just 3-for-14 from the field.
What it means: The Bulls appear to have hit the wall. Specifically, Nate Robinson seems to have finally run out of gas. The diminutive guard has been integral to the Bulls' success in the postseason, but he had his worst game of the season on Monday night going 0-for-12 from the field. As a group, the Bulls couldn't find any kind of offensive rhythm, but it was Robinson who struggled the most. It seems as though all the minutes and all the nagging injuries have finally caught up to him. So often over the past few weeks he has been able to find an extra gear in his game and will his teammates to the finish line, but he couldn't buy a basket in this one. Without his offense the Bulls couldn't get anything going. It's not just Robinson's fault that the Bulls lost because the rest of his teammates weren't shooting well either, but Robinson's lack of production was most jarring given the standard he has set for himself during the playoffs. This game only underscores what has been the Bulls' biggest problem for the past few seasons. When Derrick Rose isn't on the floor, they have nowhere else to turn against Miami. Against weaker opponents, the Bulls can usually find ways to score and win because the defense isn't as strong. Against Miami, it's a different story. Until the Bulls find a consistent option next to Rose they will be unable to take the next step in their development as a championship contender.
Hits: Udonis Haslem gave the Heat a solid performance, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds in 18 minutes.
Misses: The Bulls shot just 25.7 percent from the field and turned the ball over 17 times.
Stat of the night: The Bulls' 25.7 shooting percentage is a new franchise low for postseason play. The old record was 31.1 percent, set in the 1990 playoffs against the Detroit Pistons, according to Bulls radio statistician Jeff Mangurten.
What's next: Game 5 is Wednesday night in Miami at 6 p.m. CT.
MIAMI -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls earned a 93-86 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night at American Airlines Arena in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
How it happened: Nate Robinson had 27 points, nine assists and hit several huge shots down the stretch as the Bulls picked up a win that surprised many. Jimmy Butler played one of the best games of his young career, scoring 21 points and pulling down 13 rebounds while playing all 48 minutes and guarding LeBron James. Joakim Noah had another big game, scoring 13 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and dishing out four assists. James had 24 points, 15 in the fourth quarter, eight rebounds and seven assists, but the Heat didn't have the answer for the Bulls down the stretch.
What it means: The Bulls stole home-court advantage while giving their injured players a few extra days to recover. Few people outside of the Bulls' locker room expected them to have a chance in this series, especially in this game without Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (calf). But just like they did in their first-round series against Brooklyn, the Bulls won with heart, defense and excellent coaching. Tom Thibodeau and his team deserve all the credit for finding a way to win despite having played in Game 7 of their first-round series with the Brooklyn Nets less that 48 hours before. This is the type of win that will give Thibodeau even more confidence that they can steal another before heading home.
Hits: Taj Gibson had a nice game off the bench after a poor series against the Nets. On Monday, he had 12 points and four rebounds in 23 minutes.
Misses: Carlos Boozer was 3-for-11 from the field for just six points and had three turnovers.
Stat of the night: The Bulls turned the ball over 16 times. The Heat scored 22 points off those turnovers.
What's next: Game 2 is Wednesday night in Miami.
CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls pulled out a 79-76 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night at the United Center in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Bulls lead the series 2-1:
How it happened: Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng led the way for the Bulls all night. Boozer racked up 22 points, 16 rebounds and 3 assists while Deng added 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists of his own. After getting down 17-5 to start the game, the Bulls controlled the tempo and did whatever they wanted on both ends. Kirk Hinrich once again played solid defense on Nets guard Deron Williams and set the tone for the rest of the night. Williams finished with 16 points, but Hinrich's persistence didn't allow the Nets to set up the way they would have liked.
What it means:The Bulls played exactly the type of game they were hoping for. They were the more aggressive team and played to their strengths. Their defense didn't let up and clogged up lanes all over the floor -- forcing the Nets into shots and plays they didn't want to make. Boozer's and Deng's play has to make coach Tom Thibodeau feel very good about the rest of this series. They were seeking their own shot and made plays when the Bulls needed them. With the way the Bulls' defense has played -- and the Nets continue to shoot -- Thibodeau and his team have to feel very good about their chances heading into Game 4.
Hits: Hinrich had 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, but it was his defense that was on point again.
Misses: Joakim Noah was 0-for-7 from the field, but his teammates fed off his presence on the floor and he managed to pull down eight rebounds on one foot.
Stat of the night: The Nets shot just 22.5 percent from the field in the first half.
What's next: Game 4 is Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT in the United Center.
MIAMI -- Let's take a quick look at how the Miami Heat earned a 105-93 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon at American Airlines Arena.
How it happened: LeBron James scored 24 points, pulled down seven rebounds and dished out six assists as the Heat grinded out the Bulls at the end. Dwyane Wade also had a big day scoring 22 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out four assists. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 19 points while Carlos Boozer chipped in with 16 points and 20 rebounds but the Bulls ran out of gas and got dominated down low.
What it means: The Bulls just didn't have enough in this one. Playing without Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson really hurt as the defense struggled to control the pace of the game and got beat on the blocks. Obviously, the Bulls' rash of injuries and the fact that Derrick Rose still hasn't returned has crippled Tom Thibodeau's team -- but the big problem for the Bulls all season, and at various points throughout this game, is that they can't find ways to consistently score. There are too many times when the offense can't find a good shot and is looking for anything as the shot clock runs down. The Heat's defense was solid but that shouldn't be the lone excuse for the Bulls. They shot just 35.4 percent from the field and must find a way to create better opportunities for themselves next weekend when the playoffs start.
Hits: Daequan Cook had 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Misses: Marco Belinelli, Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich were just 7-for-27 from the field. Deng, Boozer and Robinson combined to miss 30 shots.
Stat of the day: The Heat outscored the Bulls 44-24 in the paint.
What's next: The Bulls are right back at it Monday night when they take on the Orlando Magic.
How it happened: DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 20 points while Rudy Gay added 19 points in a wall-to-wall Raptors win that the Bulls tried to steal at the end. Jimmy Butler had one of the best games of his career, playing all 48 minutes while scoring a career-high 28 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out two assists. Carlos Boozer chipped in with 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. The Raptors had their way with a Bulls team playing without Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng.
What it means: This is the way Bulls basketball is going to continue to look without so many key pieces on the floor. Butler was very good and played throughout the night but without all those important pieces the Bulls can't find a way to score. There's not enough offense to go around for a team that struggled to score even when everybody was healthy. The reality for the Bulls is that they are too banged up right now to feel solid about their chances in any game, especially when they allow a bad team like the Raptors to shoot 51 percent from the field.
Hits: Playing his first meaningful minutes as a Bulls, Malcolm Thomas had six points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.
Misses: Nate Robinson and Boozer combined to go just 14-for-42 from the field.
Stat of the night: Rip Hamilton actually played 15 minutes after missing the last 19 games because of a lower back injury.
What's next: The Bulls face off against the New York Knicks, who have won 13 straight, on Thursday night.
CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls grinded out a 77-69 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Tuesday night at the United Center. Philadelphia leads the series 3-2.
How it happened: After struggling for three consecutive games, Luol Deng finally bounced back, scoring 24 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Carlos Boozer scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds. As usual, Taj Gibson played with energy and passion, scoring eight points, grabbing five rebounds and giving the Bulls an emotional boost, especially after coming back into the game in the fourth quarter after spraining his ankle. Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 16 points, but it wasn't enough as the Bulls ramped up their defensive pressure throughout the night.
What it means: The Bulls all talked about not going down without a fight Tuesday night, and they finally showed the grit and determination that pushed them to 50 regular-season wins. Deng finally took charge of an offense that looked rudderless at times in the first half. He was very frustrated with the way he had been playing and wanted to turn things around, so this win has to feel especially good for him. Boozer bounced back from a sluggish first half to knock down several big shots in the third quarter. Gibson played well off the bench, but Ronnie Brewer has to feel great about his performance. After being benched in Game 3, Brewer responded by playing with a lot of grit in Game 5, scoring six points and grabbing eight rebounds.
As we get set for Game 6, there are two key issues to keep in mind. First, Tom Thibodeau once again decided to bench Rip Hamilton in the fourth quarter. Hamilton had just six points in 18 minutes, but it was better than Kyle Korver's stat line. Korver missed the only shot he took. If the Bulls want to win Thursday, they must get more production from both. Secondly, Joakim Noah, who sprained his left ankle badly in Game 3, has been telling people he wants to return for Game 6. The question becomes, can he get healthy in time to perform at a high level Thursday?
Bold play of the game: With the shot clock running down and his team leading 74-65 with 1:32 left, Deng knocked down a huge 3-pointer that essentially ended the game.
Stat of the night: The Sixers shot 32 percent from the field.
What's next: Game 6 is Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
How it happened: After heading into halftime with a 55-47 lead, the Bulls got absolutely blitzed in the second half. They got outworked and outhustled in almost every phase of the game. Jrue Holiday dominated the Bulls' defense, scoring 26 points. Evan Turner had another solid game, scoring 17 points. Lou Williams added 20 after struggling in Game 1. Joakim Noah led the way for the Bulls with 21 points and eight rebounds, but it wasn't nearly enough. C.J. Watson, starting in place of the injured Derrick Rose, struggled to find a rhythm as the starting point guard, scoring just 12 points while Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer played poorly throughout the game.
What it means: This was the nightmare Tom Thibodeau didn't want in his first playoff game without Rose. The Sixers beat the Bulls at their own game. They got almost every loose ball, and their defense was better. The Bulls' offense couldn't make many shots in the second half, and aside from Noah, the starters provided next to nothing. What has to be most disconcerting for Thibodeau is that once Philadelphia took the lead, the Bulls seemed to just stop fighting and started taking bad shots. Without Rose there to set them straight, the Bulls allowed the Sixers to walk all over them and didn't respond. Obviously, any team can have a bad game, especially after losing its best player, but the Bulls' problem is that the defense and rebounding that have been key for them all season weren't there for them. Having Rose would have helped immensely, but the problems went deeper than that Tuesday night. If the Bulls want to get the lead back in this series, they have got to get more from Boozer and Deng. Watson must play more consistently as well.
Stat of the night: The Bulls were outscored 52-32 in the paint. They were outscored 25-8 in fast-break points. They were outrebounded 38-32. That's the trifecta of bad as far as Thibodeau is concerned.
Bold play of the game: Pick pretty much any play the Sixers ran in the second half. They outscored the Bulls 36-14 and dominated them in every aspect of the game.
What's next: Game 3 is Friday in Philadelphia.
How it happened: After missing the past five games because of back spasms, Derrick Rose came back into the lineup and played very well. He scored 23 points, dished out 6 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds. Ronnie Brewer had his best game in weeks, scoring 13 points and pulling down six rebounds, while Carlos Boozer added 16 points. Joakim Noah played with a lot more energy and grabbed 17 rebounds.
What it means: With Rose back on the floor, the Bulls pushed the tempo whenever they could. They did not shoot the ball well from the floor, but they looked much more comfortable with Rose on the floor. Rose's presence clearly helped his teammates, especially Brewer and Noah -- both of whom got easier looks at the basket while running alongside Rose. The biggest mental hurdle for Rose came in the third quarter, when he fell hard to the floor. He got up without any issue, but he will surely feel that one in the morning.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said he would watch Rose's minutes closely, and he did. The 23-year-old played 35 minutes, compared with Luol Deng, who racked up 44. Thibodeau has to be breathing a sigh of relief after this game. Rose looked fine and got the Bulls a win after a poor performance Saturday afternoon against the New Jersey Nets. The question for Bulls fans now becomes, how will Rose feel Tuesday morning after playing for the first time in almost two weeks?
Stat of the night: The Bulls had 18 second-chance points. The Hawks had just four.
What's next: The Bulls will hit the practice floor Tuesday afternoon before facing off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. That will mark the team's final game before the All-Star break.
How it happened: Derrick Rose dominated this game almost from start to finish. The reigning MVP said before the game that this particular contest against Chris Paul and the Clippers didn't mean more to him than any other game. His actions told a different story, though. He was in control all night offensively, finishing the game with 29 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds.
What it means: Rose was dominant, but the difference between these two teams is their depth. Each one of the Bulls' starters scored in double figures and had at least five rebounds. The Bench Mob also had another big night and provided solid minutes for Tom Thibodeau. Without question, this was the Bulls' most complete win of the year.
Stat of the night: Aside from Rose's stat line, the Bulls went to the free throw line 34 times. Another good sign for Thibodeau.
What's next: The Bulls have a day off Saturday before getting ready to face off against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night in the team's home opener at the United Center.