Tag Archives: Paul George

Note-A-BULLs: Bulls continue strong start with impressive win over Pacers

Every team that falls on the wrong side of the playoff bubble can circle some part of their schedule and ponder to themselves what would have been if they’d gotten the job done. The Bulls are determined not to let that circle come from growing pains at the beginning of the season, and they showed it with an affirming victory over the Pacers on Saturday. Just days into the season, Coach Hoiberg has utilized his squad to do what is often easier said than done: outplay the other team. At 2-0, the Bulls looked like a team that wanted to start the season off well and not look back.

  • As expected, the Bulls started out with Rondo, Wade. Butler, Gibson and Lopez. The offense was a well-balanced, fine-tuned machine throughout the game. The Bulls were able to stay on the offensive by capitalizing on fast-break opportunities, while staying prepared and disciplined during transition.
  • In the 2nd quarter, the offense broke out. Accompanied by a respective defensive effort, the Bulls scored a fantastic 38 points, a quarter in which the Pacers have struggled thus far. Rondo racked up 6 of his 13 dimes on the night, while McDermott scored 7 points in as many minutes. The Bulls shot the ball 18 times, and managed to sink all but four.
  • Going into half with a 21 point-lead, the offense continued to attack, especially in transition, while putting up 30 more points in the 3rd With a healthy lead, Hoiberg let his bench finish off the job, lead my McDermott who finished off a 23-point performance with double digits in the final quarter. #11 was lights out behind the arc, finishing off 5-6, while Isaiah Canaan made the most of his time going 3-5 behind the arc.
  • Get used to it: Taj Gibson out-rebounded fellow big-man Robin Lopez, but Gibson was the only starter who didn’t snag an offensive board. Christiano Felicio looked like someone who could stick around in this team’s rotation. His 8 rebounds were impressive, while 3 of them came on the offensive glass. Butler and Wade did their parts as well by snagging 5 boards a piece. Don’t be surprised to see that trend continue.
  • Perhaps the most assuring stat of the offense’s balanced attack tonight was that nine players clocked at least 19 minutes tonight.
  • Six of the nine players who clocked 19+ mins. scored in double digits, and two of the three who did not (Rondo and Felicio) were impressive in their own right.
  • As will be the case throughout the season, Michael Carter-Williams had mixed results. His 5 assists were shadowed with 4 turnovers, while the scoring production wasn’t there. Rondo also had 4 turnovers, however, those would be the only 4 TO’s amongst the Bulls’ starters.
  • The most telling stat of the night? Every Bulls starter had a positive +/- rating while every Pacers starter had a negative rating. Not surprisingly, the Bulls had the edge in just about every team stat.
  • After shooting in the low 70% region from the line vs. Boston, the Bulls sunk 19 of their 21 shots from the line. While the starters were 100% from the line, none of them were able to cash in once from downtown.
  • As for the Pacers, there were plenty of areas that will need addressing. Teague and Ellis were a combined 1-13 from the field, contributing just two points between themselves. George and Turner each shot 66.67% from the field, while Thaddeus Young registered an adequate 10 points and 5 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. If Teague and Ellis can mold to their ideal roles, the Pacers too could have a well-balanced offense to be wary of.
  • Next up: The Bulls will take on the Nets (1-2) in a Halloween game at the Barclays Center.

BULLet Points: Bulls edge Pacers to keep slim playoff hopes alive

The Bulls (37-37) escaped Indy with a 98-96 win over the Pacers (39-35) to keep their playoff hopes alive and end a nasty four game skid. Jimmy Butler hit a game-winner with less that four seconds left and the Bulls live to fight another day in the heated Eastern Conference playoff push.

  • The story of this game for the Bulls was their bench. The bench combined to score an incredible 63 points on the night (64% of the team scoring) to propel the Bulls to victory. As a whole, the +/- of the group was +42, a clear indication of who did the heavy lifting on the night. With the starters struggling the bench was left to pick up the slack, and did so consistently. Nikola Mirotic, Aaron Brooks, and even Cristiano Felicio had their moments that kept the Bulls in the game.
  • The MVP of the night was hands down Nikola Mirotic. The Montenegro native went off in what was probably his best game as a Bull. He shot 9/18 including 7/13 from deep to end the night with 28 points (twice as much as anyone else on the team) and 10 boards. When the Bulls seemed to be fading in the second quarter, Mirotic single-handedly willed them back into the game with five treys in the period and had 20 points by halftime.
  • The Bulls needed Mirotic to be so huge because the starters were little to no help for a desperate Bulls squad. As a group they shot 33% (15/45) and were a combined -32 against the Pacers. It seemed like every time they came in, they instantly killed any momentum built up by the bench mob. This included the fourth quarter when the starting unit combined for an abysmal two points in the frame. Fortunately, it was Butler’s game-winner.
  • Derrick Rose, playing with a banged-up left elbow, played one of his worst games in recent memory. The guard never showed any sense of rhythm and shot the ball poorly (4/15). He ended the night with just eight points and stagnated the offense more than being a playmaker for it.
  • Dunleavy and Gasol also struggled on Tuesday night. While Gasol recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, he also turned it over an alarming seven times. Dunleavy on the other hand scored only three points in 17 minutes. He needs to pick it up soon.
  • One of the starters, Taj Gibson, did not end the game. Gibson was taken off at halftime and would not return with what is being called a rib contusion. Rib contusions aren’t usually too serious, but in the middle of a playoff push down the stretch, Gibson missing any games would be a monumental loss for a Bulls team that is already banged up pretty badly.
  • It’s time for our daily “what was Hoiberg thinking?” section of BULLet Points. What was Hoiberg thinking when he pulled the bench mob so early in the fourth and other parts of the game?
  • The reserves were clearly the better unit throughout the night and were the only ones generating offense. The Bulls starters entered the game with seven minutes remaining and promptly scored five points the remainder of the game. If it weren’t for the Pacers awful shooting the Bulls would have been buried in this one.
  • Hoiberg has gone away from the hot hand on several occasions this season and Tuesday night was no different. The coach seemed to have little feel for the flow of the game and the quality of his players against Indy when making his substitutions.
  • Paul George and Ian Mahinmi were the lone Pacers to score in double-figures against the Bulls with 20 and 18, respectively. The rest of their team had an off shooting night to say the least. The Pacer’s shot 43% and an even worse 16% (3/19) from downtown.
  • Coming up: The Bulls take on James Harden and the Rockets in Houston on Thursday night in what boils down to another must-win for this squad.

BULLet Points: Jimmy wills Bulls to OT victory over Pacers

  • 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!

BULLet Points: Pacers dominate Bulls to end circus trip

  • The Bulls got off to a quick start, but Indiana adjusted fast and took control of the game, ultimately winning 104-92. The Bulls never really made it that interesting.
  • Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose each had forgettable nights, with Rose in particular continuing to struggle badly. He was 4/16 from the field for 10 points with six rebounds and five assists. He’s now shooting 36.3% this season and 21.4% from long range. Rose has converted only 44.7% within three feet and 30% from 3-10 feet out. Hopefully a lot of issues are coming from the mask and vision problems, but this version of Rose is not a starting point guard in the NBA. The Bulls need a turnaround fast.
  • Butler finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five dimes but he struggled to make an impact for long stretches of the game. Paul George–back and better than ever–mostly had his way against Butler, finishing with 33 points and eight boards. After the game, Jimmy acknowledged that he’s playing through a lower leg injury of unknown severity. It’s extremely discouraging that the Bulls are apparently mishandling injuries once again, seeing as Butler is currently third in the NBA in minutes per game. #Pray4Jimmy
  • Pau Gasol could not handle Indiana’s new smallball identity. The Pacers started CJ Miles and Paul George at the forward spots and operate with tons of floor space due to the amount of shooting around the perimeter. Gasol was constantly too slow to hit his rotations and overwhelmed offensively, finishing 4/16 from the field. His offensive effectiveness is dwindling while the NBA’s move toward small lineups and flexibility makes Gasol even more of a liability some nights. The Bulls need to bring him off the bench, where he can regain some efficiency by taking on reserve bigs in the post.

  • Niko Mirotic was the best player for Chicago and his potential is really magnified against teams that like to play small. With Paul George guarding Butler, CJ Miles was forced to match up with Mirotic. Niko constantly kept Miles off guard with his unique blend of quick shots, pump fakes, and goofy drives that somehow often end in free throws. Mirotic has had major struggles with his shot and consistency this season, but the Bulls can only be their best when his skills are emphasized. Hoiberg needs to be more aggressive about keeping Niko on the floor when other teams try to win by going small. He finished with 25 points and seven boards in 29 minutes and a plus/minus of -4. The Bulls were -8 in the 19 minutes he sat.
  • Kirk Hinrich continued to play pretty well, adding 11 points and two assists off the bench in 22 minutes. The Bulls were +4 in his minutes and sadly may be a better team with him at point guard over Rose at the moment.
  • CJ Miles went nuts in the first half with 16 points but was shut down afterward. He’s had a nice stretch playing next to George in Indiana’s small system. Lavoy Allen added 12 and 10 off the bench as the Bulls bigs were simply too slow to keep up with his activity. None of the Chicago frontcourt is playing good defense right now.
  • Indiana may have stumbled onto something pretty solid with their new identity. They’ve won 10 of 12 and Paul George looks every bit as good, if not better, as he did in 2013-14. Much ado was made about George being hesitant to bang with big men as a power forward, but Indiana has smartly used him as both a wing and a big. He’s too good of a perimeter defender to abandon that ability, as the Bulls saw firsthand with George guarding Jimmy.
  • Coming up: the Bulls return home to take on the surging San Antonio Spurs.

BULLet Points: Bulls survive late game scare against Pacers

In what was their last game at the United Center before the customary November “circus” road trip across the country, the Bulls avoided letting tonight’s game slip away in the final minutes and improved to 7-3 with a 96-95 victory. Let’s start with the negative before digging into some positive notes.

  • The alternate jerseys. Apparently these were supposed to be a symbol of Chicago pride, but the connection wasn’t clear. Instead, what we had were oddly colored gray t-shirts that just looked weird. To me, the only alternate jerseys the Bulls need are the black ones. Those are about as good as they come.
  • Nikola Mirotic’s shooting. Excluding last Monday’s game, he’s not had a game in which he’s shot above 30% from the three point line since November 1st against the Magic. That stretch includes three games in which he missed all of his three point attempts, going 0/10 in those games. He has been hardly better from the field otherwise, with last Monday’s game again being the exception since late October. Really, since the first three games of the season, he’s had just the one game in which he’s shot particularly well. I do have to give credit to Mirotic in one way, however, he led the team’s +/- with a +6 tonight.
  • Doug McDermott on defense. It’s bad. Not only is he slow, but he very often looks lost and out of place. Much of the time, he doesn’t look like he knows where he should be, and by the time he’s figured it out, it’s too late. On one play in the second quarter, he allowed an easy basket from the post because he was late on help defense, and when he got there, he was crossed over with ease and went to the ground. His shooting is generally pretty good, but as has been documented here already, he is usually more harm than good when he’s on the floor. His defense will have to improve, or otherwise I would expect that his minutes will start to dwindle.
  • On a more positive note, Derrick Rose shot awfully well for someone who will apparently be dealing with double vision for a large chunk of the season. He was 9/18 from the field and 2/2 from three point range tonight. He led the team in scoring tonight with 23. Unfortunately, he sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter and did not return.
  • As a whole, the Bulls offense did a nice job of driving to the basket early on and did nicely at keeping Indiana out of the paint during much of the first half. The Pacers’ lack of success there was the main contributing factor to their halftime deficit.
  • Even though Pau Gasol only mustered five points, he was an absolute workhorse on the boards, especially on defense. Though the Bulls were outrebounded 50-48, Gasol and Taj Gibson both had double-digit rebounds.
  • Gibson finished with nine points, 11 boards, five assists (!), and four rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. He could start seeing more of Mirotic’s minutes.
  • Chicago survived a late game scare. The Pacers are not a team to take for granted, no matter what kind of lead you have, and we saw that tonight. Paul George is fully back from injury and looks fantastic. I made the mistake of thinking this one was in the bag with about half of the fourth quarter left, and instead spent the final minutes nervously hoping we wouldn’t fall victim to a last second shot from the Pacers. Thankfully, that did not happen and the Bulls left with a 96-95 victory.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head west for three games, the first of which is Wednesday in Phoenix.