The result: The Minnesota Timberwolves (15-27) pulled out a 109-108 overtime home victory over the Bulls (18-27), who have now lost five straight and nine of 13 games this month.
The good: The Bulls jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first quarter while the Wolves were clanging their first 11 shots. Joakim Noah came back Hulk Hogan-style from his Scott Hastings impersonation against the Raptors to submit a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds) to go along with 3 assists and 7 Wilsonburgers served. Luol Deng (22 points, 7-for-14, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) looked like the Loul of 2005-06. Ben Gordon’s targeting computer was on the mark (10-for-20 from the field and 3-for-6 from downtown for his team-high 23 points). In fact, the Bulls shot pretty well as a team (47 percent) and – in a refreshing change of pace – managed to force more turnovers than they committed (17-15).
The bad: That 16-point lead? Lost it. But they still managed to go up 97-94 on Noah’s layup with 1:08 to go in the fourth quarter. However, Minnesota scored the next four points (off a hook shot and a tip-in by Jefferson) to force OT. So, you know, here’s another game that can be filed under “Come-From-Ahead Losses.” Derrick Rose’s performance was reasonably solid (18 points, 7 assists) but he also committed a team-high 5 turnovers and blew two golden opportunities to put the game away: He gonged a 17-foot jumper at the end of regulation and later forced (and missed) an off-balance shot under heavy pressure at the end of overtime. (Time for John Paxson to put out a “Clutch Scorer Wanted” sign outside the United Center, I think…)
The ugly: Kirk Hinrich must have caught whatever Noah had against Toronto, because he was dreadful (1 point, 0-for-7, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 3 turnovers). Despite Noah’s 7 blocked shots, Chicago’s interior defenselessness again proved to be their undoing. Al Jefferson scored a season-high 39 points — yes, another frontcourt player had his best game of the year against us — and Kevin Love came off the bench to contribute 19 points (8-for-11) and 15 boards (including 5 on the offensive end). Oh, and Love’s rebound total represented a career-high. Not to go all Hubie Brown on you, but teams that can’t control or at least somewhat protect the paint aren’t going to win many games.