Tag Archives: Charlotte Hornets

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls secure much-needed win over Hornets 115-109

Playing back-to-back road games, the Bulls entered Charlotte on a sore note after getting thrashed the day before by Brad Stevens’ Celtics to extend the losing streak to five games. Yet despite their struggles, the Bulls had every right to come out hungry Monday night, wanting to keep the Milwaukee Bucks and the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference within grasp.

Hoiberg would give Rondo the start over Grant, accompanied by Wade, Butler, Portis, and Lopez. For the Hornets, it was Kemba, Lamb, Zeller, Williams, and Kidd-Gilchrist. Starting off the game, the Bulls looked ready to move on from a miserable preceding week. Just halfway into the quarter, they managed to net 20 points and jump out to an early lead.

Up 20-15, the Bulls surrendered eight straight points to the Hornets. Unexpectedly though, they finished the quarter on a 16-1 run, up 36-24 after 12 minutes. With the Hornets ready to rally, the Bulls were able to respond to defensive errors, maintaining a 10-point lead through the first five minutes of the 2nd. After some back-and-forth action, the Bulls kept the Hornets in check, taking their earlier 10-point lead with them into the locker rooms at halftime, up 58-48.

Predictable as always, the Bulls started off the 2nd half looking as if the teams’ roles had reversed. Within three minutes, the Hornets had cut the lead to three points and had it down to one point less than 60 seconds later. Despite the Hornets’ momentum, the Bulls continued to hold them off. After again letting them get to within a point of tying the game, the Bulls were able to stay up four by the six-minute mark in the 3rd. After two Zeller free-throws and a Frank Kaminsky lay-in, things were squared up 69-69 with just over five left in the quarter. From there on out though, the Bulls would take over and pull ahead 87-77 with three quarters in the books.

Again, the Hornets fought back in the final quarter, pulling to within four by the six-minute mark, looking poised to finally take the lead back. However, the Bulls would maintain their poise on this night. Ahead just three in the closing minutes, Jimmy Butler and Denzel Valentine made their free throws to put the game out of reach and give Chicago the 115-109 win in Charlotte.

  • Wade and Butler were each 8-15 from the field, each making all but one of their free throws. Both men finished the night with 23 points, while Butler helped the cause with 11 assists to get the double-double.
  • Taking advantage of the opportunity, Rondo scored a much-needed 20 points, also 8-15 from the field. Along with Butler’s impressive passing, Rondo was able to get six assists of his own and seven boards.
  • Off the bench, Mirotic turned in a much-needed performance. Going 8-16 from the field (5-12) from downtown, the big man netted 24 points in 29 minutes of action, while also grabbing 11 rebounds to get a double-double.
  • In 28 minutes of playing time, the rookie Valentine was able to add 11 points and five rebounds. Cameron Payne was 0-6 from the field in limited playing time, including 0-4 from downtown.
  • While the Hornets did shoot slightly better from the field, just 7-29 from beyond the arc didn’t help their cause. Losing the rebound and assist battle didn’t help, as the Bulls were able to match their impressive free-throw shooting.
  • Kidd-Gilchrist and Lamb and Walker all scored 20+ points, while Williams dominated the glass with 18 rebounds. The bench, however, could only contribute 16 points with some poor shooting efforts.
  • Next Up: the Bulls host the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, looking to squeeze back into the playoff picture.
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Note-A-Bulls: Jimmy Butler and his cast of misfits hold on to beat Hornets 118-111

With all the major sporting events finished for the day, the Chicago Bulls had a game to play. Growing tensions were certainly swirling around for the Bulls with the uncertainty of their connection to Rajon Rondo, and if Fred Hoiberg is the right man to coach this team. Hoping to break out of a two-game losing streak, the Bulls squared up against the Hornets. Charlotte has had a decent season thus far, coming in at 19-15, with Kemba Walker leading the way for “Buzz City”. 

Dwyane Wade was inactive for the game, which meant that there was added pressure for star guard Jimmy Butler to step up. Doug McDermott got the start in place of Wade, his first of the year. The Bulls sported their usual all white home jerseys while the Hornets wore their typical purple away jerseys. Robin Lopez won the tip with a rather large crowd on hand at the UC, and Bulls basketball was on the air. The first half of the quarter was back and forth between the two clubs. Shots were not falling in the first six minutes, as the score was 11-9 Bulls at that point. A timeout was taken at the 5:30 mark, after Jimmy Butler drained a mid-range jumper to put the Bulls up one. The back and forth play continued, as the Bulls led 19-16 with just over two minutes to play. However, it seemed like the Bulls had their offense in a good position. They were hitting jump shots, something they hadn’t been doing in quite some time. They finished the quarter shooting 50% from the floor. Of course, this solid offensive play did not translate to quality defensive play, as the Hornets kept the game close to the end of the quarter. After one, the Bulls led 25-23, as Jimmy Butler led all scorers with nine points.

Charlotte began the scoring in the second as Nicolas Batum hit a running layup to even up the score of the game.  Both teams had most their rotation players on the floor, and Charlotte capitalized early in the quarter. They opened the second on an 8-0 run, headlined by the scoring of Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky. Fred Hoiberg took a timeout at the 9:50 mark, hoping to slow down Charlotte’s momentum. Out of all players, it was Michael Carter-Williams to hit a three and open the Bulls’ scoring for the quarter. The timeout had large importance for the Bulls, as they were able to break the Hornets run, and trim their lead. At the halfway mark of the second, the Bulls trailed by three, with the score 41-38. Jimmy Butler was in full command, as he was the only player to have more than five points at this point in the game. Butler finally received some help after the timeout, as rookie Denzel Valentine was hitting threes left and right. The Bulls led 48-43 with just under four minutes to play. They continued to live by the three, as they finished the half shooting just under 50% from distance, and almost 53% overall. Kemba Walker drew a rather questionable foul as the buzzer to end the half went off, and hit both of his free throws to cut the Bulls lead to one at the half. The score after twenty-four minutes of play, Chicago fifty-eight, Charlotte, fifty-seven.

The first big play that came out of the third was a defensive three seconds called on Roy Hibbert. Jimmy Butler hit the technical free throw, and the Bulls had the first points of the second half. The Hornets got off to a hot start in the quarter again, as they were able to jump out to a six-point lead. With just over ten minutes to play in the third, Hoiberg took another timeout in hopes to slow down the Hornets. Once again, it worked. Jimmy Butler continued his hot night by hitting a three, and the Bulls cut the lead down to four, and eventually tied the game with just over seven minutes to play. Butler just continued to be scorching, as he had twenty-nine of the Bulls sixty-nine points. In addition to his contribution through the scoring department, he had nine rebounds and six assists. Yet, Charlotte just continued to answer Butler’s heroics. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Hornets again went on a 11-2 run, putting their lead to eight, with the score 79-71. This game was more or less Jimmy Butler versus the Charlotte Hornets, and Jimmy kept fighting. Due to Butler’s efforts, the Bulls did not let the Hornets pull this one wide open. After three, Charlotte led by three, 85-82.

Looking to get some help for Butler, the Bulls began the fourth hoping to pull out a game in which they did not deserve to win. However, with Butler on the bench, the Hornets took full advantage. While they did not jump out to a large lead, they dominated the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Recognizing Charlotte could break this game open, Hoiberg took another timeout to stop the bleeding at the 8:48 mark. Fans cheered prior to play starting again, hoping that the Bulls could find a way to get this win. Doug McDermott was taking full advantage of the increased minutes, as he not only became the focal point of the Bulls’ offense with Butler resting, but he also was attacking the basket. Which, if you watch any Bulls basketball, know that this is a rare occurrence. With less than five minutes to go, the Hornets led 100-97. Butler, who had played thirty-three of a possible forty-four minutes, just continued to carry the Bulls. Notice a pattern? After hitting his fifteenth free-throw of the night, Butler and the Bulls had tied it at one-hundred. Big Macs were now in play. Just needed the win. The plot continued to advance, and Jimmy just continued to feast. He had eleven of the Bulls last thirteen points. He finished with a career high, fifty points. There is no other way of putting it, Jimmy Butler won this game, not the Bulls. The final score of what turned out to be a thriller, Bulls 118, Charlotte 111.

While the Bulls fought all night, and did come out with the win, this game was not pretty. Without Jimmy Butler, this game would have been over after the first quarter. There is carrying a team, and then there was what Butler did tonight. It was nothing short of incredible. Dwyane Wade is getting up there in age, and these rest nights are going to be more of a reality towards the end of the season. The Bulls will need to find a second option when Wade can’t suit up. Doug McDermott showed that he could be that option tonight, but we will need to see more out of him before we can conclude that. The calendar has switched to 2017, which means every game holds a large value for the Bulls. It’s safe to say that the Bulls are by no means a contender to win the East, but they are a playoff team. Luckily, you can afford to play mediocre basketball in the East and still make the playoffs, so Bulls fans have got that going for them. So let’s all just get used to mediocrity. The Bulls will travel to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers on Wednesday, looking to get a nice win against their division rivals.

BULLet Points: Hornets embarrass shorthanded Bulls to end road trip

This game felt over before it started. When Derrick Rose was scratched an hour before the tip the Bulls’ fate was sealed. Without Rose, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic (and of course Joakim Noah) the Bulls don’t have a chance against a half decent NBA team, which is precisely what the Charlotte Hornets are.

  • Things got out of hand twelve miserable minutes into the game. Charlotte hung 38 points in the first quarter to Chicago’s 20, and the Bulls never shrunk the deficit below 12. The Hornets were 5/9 from three in the quarter and shot 58% overall. The Hornets, without Al Jefferson, did a great job of creating space on offense. Smart passing and cutting led to many open shots from three and the rim.
  • Kemba Walker was the biggest contributor to the win Monday night. The former Husky scored 30 points, dished eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds. Walker was effective inside and out, knocking down 4/9 of his three point attempts and chipping in 10 points from the free throw line on 13 attempts.
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, back from shoulder injury, scored 20 points almost all through cuts and offensive boards. MKG gets no respect standing on the perimeter, clogging up lanes for his teammates. But with intelligent cutting and efficient finishing, Kidd-Gilchrist is enough of a weapon to not totally sink the offense.
  • Fred Hoiberg continues to make Thibs-like decisions without drawing Thibs-like criticism. Pau Gasol logged 33 meaningless minutes, staying in the game until just two minutes remained. Gasol was the only source of offense for the Bulls, but Hoiberg’s insistence on playing to keep the game close is not a good long-term decision. Pau filled the box score with 22 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks. A great night to be a Pau fantasy owner, a bad night to be a Bulls fan.
  • If Hoiberg left Gasol in the fourth quarter to crawl back into the game, why not play him alongside Taj Gibson? Taj is the only big man capable of playing good defense, a vital part of mounting a comeback. Alas, Cameron Bairstow saw all 12 minutes of the fourth while Gibson played none.
  • I have no problem with Bairstow playing the entire fourth quarter. I have no problem with the Bulls believing they could make a push against a mediocre Hornets team. My problem is the half-in, half-out approach Hoiberg took in this game. Either bring your A-game or go full scrub.
  • E’Twaun Moore continues to make the best of his current opportunity. Moore was aggressive and effective on offense, scoring 12 points on 50% shooting. When Moore was first inserted into the starting lineup he sometimes seemed reluctant to shoot threes when he was open. Moore connected on 2/4 of his attempts tonight and will continue to increase his gravity.
  • Moore’s effort on defense cannot be questioned, but his effectiveness is held back by his size. Matched up against the 6’8″ Nicolas Batum, the 6’4″ Moore was unable to bother the Frenchman’s shot.
  • Doug McDermott was the Bulls second leading scorer with 14 points. Unfortunately, almost all of his production came with the game way out of reach. Doug was the victim of several MKG cuts and continues to be a net negative for this team.
  • Tony Snell was 1/4 from the field in an unremarkable 19 minutes. Tony Snell led the team in +/-. Tony Snell sold his soul to a wizard or something.
  • Coming up: the Bulls host Atlanta on Wednesday night before the All-Star break.

BULLet Points: Sloppy play in crunchtime costs Bulls a win against Hornets

Sometimes perception does not match reality. It had felt through the first 16 games that the Bulls’ record was not indicative of how well they had been playing. Before their 102-96 loss at the United Center last night, the Bulls were in first place in the East at a seemingly improbable 11-5. This was in spite of the fact that they looked subaverage and even mediocre in many of their games. Improbably, they kept winning, and the hope is that this game was not an indication of a trend in a different direction.

Though, for much of the game, it looked very well like the Bulls would avoid their sixth loss, poor shooting, bad defense, and a couple of untimely missed free throws in the final minutes cost them.

  • As a whole, after a 1/6 start from the field to go against 5/6 from Charlotte, the two teams shot almost exactly equally. Both were 37/89, but the difference came largely from the three pointers. The Bulls shot better (36%), but made one less than did the Hornets, who simply took more shots from beyond the arc, giving them an extra three points on the Bulls there. They were also 18/25 from the free throw line, compared to 13/19 for Chicago. No drastic differences in shooting, but greater opportunity yielded a higher number of shots for the Hornets.
  • Throughout the game, it felt like the Bulls were giving up the paint on both ends. Especially early in the game, the Charlotte defense was particularly effective in disrupting the Bulls’ post play. Namely, much of their scoring troubles early on came from the fact that they could not establish shots or passing lanes for Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol down low. To this end, Mirotic’s first points from the post came on a rebound when Marvin Williams tripped and left the rebound open to Mirotic. On the other end of the floor, the Bulls gave up a lot of relatively easy shots to the Hornets.
  • Speaking of Mirotic, he made his return after leaving Wednesday’s game with a concussion. Originally, he was not expected to suit up last night, but he was able to play 27 minutes and score seven points and grab seven rebounds. His +/- was -8 though, some of which came from his 1/6 shooting from three point range. He missed his two free throw attempts, both of which came at a very inopportune time, right when the Bulls had the chance in the waning minutes of the game.
  • Derrick Rose had one of his best games of the year. His three point stroke looked fine, draining three, and he converted on several of his patented twisty layups that we’ve been itching to see. He finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists on 8/17 shooting.
  • Tony Snell played just 12 minutes against Charlotte and offered little. He scored zero points and produced just one assist. His offensive production has completely disappeared.
  • In all, it seems so far that the Bulls have been playing up to some of their more challenging opponents like the Pacers, Spurs, and Cavs – and even the Warriors in spite of ultimately losing, and then playing down to the softer opponents. While the Hornets are a young and dynamic team, the Bulls should not be struggling to beat them like they have been.
  • I was begrudgingly a fan of Kemba Walker when he was in college, and last night he reminded me of why he was so frustrating to root against at times. As I mentioned earlier, the Bulls seemed to struggle to establish their post game, and much of the time, it was Walker who was the disruptive force. Like the Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte has a team stacked with young talent. Along with Kemba, you have Cody Zeller, Nicolas Batum, and rookie Frank Kaminsky.
  • Coming up: the Bulls will stay at the United Center to host the 8-12 Phoenix Suns on Monday.

BULLet Points: Bulls get a little revenge against Hornets

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” – Klingon Proverb

The Bulls didn’t exactly get the “you stomped us, we’ll stomp you” flavor of revenge they were hoping for, but they did get the win, 102-97. They entered tonight with a 5-3 record, besting the Cavs and the Thunder, but losing to lesser teams in the Pistons, Timberwolves, and Hornets. They were out rebounded 52-33 in their last contest against Charlotte, and they had another crack at them tonight:

  • The Bulls were active on the glass this time, determined not to get beat on the boards again, winning that battle 57-45. Joakim was a huge contributor to this, posting 18 rebounds and six assists in the most active game he’s had all year. He’s the first player with 16 plus boards and six plus assists off the bench since Dennis Rodman for the Spurs in December 1994; it was fitting that he had the final rebound of the game on Charlotte’s last shot. His energy was great and the knee doesn’t seem to be bothering him. His offensive activity both with and without the ball was enough to make me a believer that he’s going to cause defenses some problems this year, which is a great sign going forward.
  • Pau was a big factor too, adding 13 rebounds to complement his 19 points in a very productive game, posting his third double-double in the last four games (and the one miss was a 16 point, nine rebound effort against Philadelphia); however, it should be noted he was -8 for the game, and wasn’t as productive with Niko on the floor, who was -6.
  • Rose had another decent game, again playing more of a facilitating role with 10 points and eight assists (to three turnovers) in 35 minutes. When the floor was spaced with shooters, Rose was able to penetrate and make decisions between finishing, finding a shooter, or hitting the diving big man on the roll. Unfortunately, he still thinks he can make threes for some reason, missing two more tonight. He’s now 1/18 on the season. Here’s his shot chart, just to rub salt in the wound:

Shotchart_1447473640201

  • While we’re on the subject of three-point shooting, the Bulls averaged 25 of them coming into this game, having a streak of 11 straight games with at least seven made threes. That ended tonight, shooting just 4/16 from deep, while the Hornets were 15/33, which is really what kept the game close.
  • Doug McDermott continues to shoot well, 3/6 on field goals and 1/2 from downtown. He’s at 57.1% overall from deep for the season and he moves well without the ball. Here’s what a really great shot chart is supposed to look like (*cough* Derrick take notes *cough* notice how it’s green and not red *cough*):

Shotchart_1447474781181

  • Early on, the Bulls ran most of their offensive sets through Pau Gasol after a series of dribble hand-offs rather than setting the drag screens we’re more accustomed to seeing with Hoiball. This remained to be prominent in their offense throughout the game as they struggled with reversing the ball and not doing a good job of kicking it out on their drives. The Hornets got their hands on too many passes in the second quarter, but the Bulls found more success as the game went on by pushing the ball in transition and being more aggressive on their drives.
  • Jimmy got a little too comfortable settling for isolation fade aways early on in the game, but hit his stride in the third quarter and through the rest of the game, ending with 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists with 11/14 from the line, hitting what was the clinching jump shot in the final seconds of the game. If it weren’t for Jimmy’s short take over, Charlotte might have done more damage, outscoring the bulls 18-0 from three point range in the third quarter.

  • The second unit showed up to play tonight, all posting positive plus minuses (except Aaron Brooks, who was even); E’Twaun Moore was a big boost off the bench, going 5/6 with 11 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. Taj also played well, with 12 points on 6/10 from the field.
  • Kirk returned from a sore toe on a 10-minute restriction and surprisingly wasn’t terrible; let’s just keep his minutes down. But the most activity around Kirk was in the two minutes he decided to play without his goggles – the Twittersphere went a little nuts:

Kirk 1Kirk 2Kirk 3

  • As for the Hornets: Al Jefferson was a surprising non factor in this game, scoring just six points on 3/9 shooting with only five rebounds. He normally causes the Bulls more issues but wasn’t able to gain any kind of consistency in the post. Nicolas Batum went crazy with 28 points on 10/17, including 5/6 from three (though one was a bank shot that he very clearly did not call bank on). He also had eight rebounds in just under 35 minutes.
  • Jeremy Lin played pretty terrible tonight (-15, four points on 2/7), but he shockingly has a top 10 PER in the league for qualified point guards (Rose isn’t even in the top 50) at 21.09. And by the way, Steph Curry is at a ridiculous 10-game PER of 37.12 with the Westbrook the next closest guy at 29.77. Remember when I talked about WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne’s absurd PER of 32.7 this past year, and Wilt’s all-time single season NBA record of 31.82? Obviously Steph will regress (right?!), but you can see why 37.12 is just flat out nasty. I don’t care if it’s only through 10 games.
  • Up Next: The Bulls host Indiana on Monday; Charlotte hosts the Trail Blazers on Sunday
  • On a more somber note, we try to focus on basketball on a day when the attacks in Paris are heavy on our hearts and our minds. With some of Joakim Noah’s family in Paris, we are even more keenly aware that these attacks strike closer to home than we may think.