- Jimmy Butler somehow found a way to put a pretty bow on a game that was anything but aesthetically pleasing. The Bulls scratched and clawed their way to a 102-100 overtime win over the Pacers at the UC on Wednesday night. The win was the Bulls third in their last four games, and this one came without the help of Derrick Rose, who sat out due to tightness in his hamstring.
- Playing without Rose, Butler was the clear alpha dog for the Bulls on the night. He struggled getting going at first, only putting up five points in the first half when it looked like he was forcing the action too much to compensate for Rose’s absence. But Butler picked up his game big time in the second half, and especially down the stretch, ending the game with 28 points, four rebounds, and four assists. That included the game winning basket with 1.2 seconds remaining when Pau Gasol lobbed up an alley-oop pass from the top of the key to Butler who put a magisterial touch on it to float it home to Paul George’s bewilderment.
- What probably went unnoticed from Butler’s night however was his extraordinary defense on Paul George. He held one of the best players in the league to 7/20 shooting and forced him into three turnovers while keeping him off-balance all night. This allowed the Bulls to stay in the game while the offense struggled through a 16 point third quarter.
- I’m officially all-in on Bench Mob 2.0. PBS (Portis, Brooks, and Snell) all did their part in contributing to this victory. Brooks led all scorers in the game with 29 points and 5 assists. Of course he also turned the ball over six times, which we’ll get to later, but his key plays down the stretch more than made up for some of his mistakes. Portis had another strong performance recording 16 points and seven rebounds on 7/12 shooting. Finally, Snell, whose numbers don’t tell the whole story. He only shot 1/6 and totaled only two points, but he also grabbed 7 boards and was a +14 on the night. His defense also caused havoc for the Pacers all night as his long wing-span helped force turnovers. The Bench Mob 2.0 was the sole reason the Bulls had any sort of lead at halftime with Butler struggling the entire first half.
- Things weren’t all rainbows and sunshine on the night as the Bulls turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 27 points off turnovers, which kept the Pacers in the game despite shooting only 38.1% on the night. The Bulls lacked a killer instinct yet again after going up by as many as 14 in the 3rd quarter. They became complacent and flat-footed leading to no ball movement and forced passes into the paint which led to the aforementioned turnovers. If it weren’t for some Jimmy Butler heroics, the heart on this team would have been called into question after losing out on nearly every 50/50 ball in the 2nd half.
- Another somber note is reserved for Nikola Mirotic. The Montenegro native scored a grand total of zero points in his 20 minutes on the floor, bringing his total to two points over 37 minutes played in his previous 2 games. It is no mystery that Mirotic struggles on the defensive side of the floor, so leaving him on the court for almost half the game when he can’t score calls into question the rotations Hoiberg is using when the team is struggling on offense like in the 3rd quarter tonight.
- Coming up: The Bulls ring in the New Year by hosting 3 6 Latvia (Kristaps Porzingis) and the New York Knickerbockers on January 1st. Happy New Years!