Chicago Bulls 128, Orlando Magic 125: What did we learn?

Before the Chicago Bulls won a marathon triple-overtime game against the Orlando Magic, 128-125, I stated on Twitter that it would qualify as a minor miracle if either team cracked 90 points. I was basing that prediction on the last meeting between these teams, an 83-82 barn burner in Chicago, and on the absence of Luol Deng, Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic from this meeting.

Oops.

That brings to what we learned.

1. As always, I’m an idiot.

And don’t you forget it.

2. Yay Tony Snell!

Snell finished with 15 points on 6/12 from the field to go with 7 rebounds. He also hit some big shots in overtime, none bigger than the eventual game winner with about 49 seconds left in the third overtime. He played 34 minutes, including pretty much the entirety of overtime, and did everything that was asked of him. Oh, and he threw down an awesome dunk in the second overtime. Watch your head, Jameer!

Courtesy of SBNation

Courtesy of SBNation

Snell’s had kind of a weird season. He was thrown to the wolves on opening night against LeBron James because of foul trouble for Deng and Jimmy Butler, then barely played for the next few weeks, then started several games after Derrick Rose went down, then went back to not playing much, and now has seen his minutes go back up since Deng was traded. His numbers this year don’t look great, thanks to a rough December, but since the start of the new year, he’s shooting 48 percent from the field and 39 percent from three and scoring about 13 points per 36 minutes. For a guy who was generally regarded as a reach at the 20th pick and who didn’t seem likely to play much going into the year, that’s pretty good.

3. #FireKirkHinrich #OutOfACannon

DJ Augustin is so much better it’s almost sad. Kirk posted a line of 7 points on 3/11 shooting with all of 1 assist in nearly 26 minutes. Augustin didn’t shoot well (7/18) himself, but he hit 3 threes and tallied 9 assists. Kirk just isn’t anything like a decent point guard in the NBA anymore.

4. Taj Gibson is the closer.

Carlos Boozer scored 23 points in 28 minutes on 11/17 from the field, but didn’t see the floor after the end of the third quarter. Taj scored 6 points in almost 43 minutes on 3/10 from the field, but didn’t leave the floor at any point after the third quarter. Make of that what you will.

5. Time is a river…

OK. We’ve now reached the ticklish bit of this game. Jimmy finished with a franchise regular-season record for minutes played at 60:22. Joakim Noah played 48:41. This was #ThibsBall at its finest. Is it bad? Yeah, probably. 60 minutes is kind of a lot, even for a guy who played all 48 minutes 5 times in 7 games during last year’s playoffs. And with Noah’s lingering plantar fasciitis…well, lingering, playing him a lot of minutes isn’t a great idea either.

That said, I saw a lot of chatter about this — along with Tom Thibodeau’s rather flippant response to questions about it — potentially being a fireable offense. Which I think is ridiculous.

Look, Thibs is a fantastic coach. He is more or less single-handedly responsible for the “strong side overload” defense that currently is in vogue around the league. He wins games at a ridiculous rate, and were it not for some extremely unfortunate injuries, might well have won a title already.* The Bulls are — theoretically, pending the health of Rose — going to be contenders again in 2014-15, so why would you jettison such a great coach? Go ask the Denver Nuggets or Memphis Grizzlies how that sort of thing works out.

*It can be argued that Thibs is at least partially responsible for said injuries, but I’m still not sure how much I buy that. He certainly hasn’t helped, and his penchant for putting players who are obviously hurt back into games (#FredClearedHim!) is frustrating and destructive, but I haven’t seen anything in most of the major injuries that suggests wear and tear is responsible. Rose’s knee and Noah’s ankle in 2012 were the result of them landing wrong. Deng got sick and had a botched spinal tap in 2013, so unless you wanted Thibs to perform the spinal tap himself, I’m not really sure what he could have done. And then there’s Rose this year, which, again, was the result of his landing wrong.

Besides, this is hardly the worst of his offenses. In 2012, Thibs played Jimmy all 48 minutes of A PRESEASON GAME. I swear I’m not making that up. How is this any worse than that?

Anyway, that’s all I got. Jimmy’s still alive — for now — and the Bulls have today off before they head to our nation’s capital to take on the Washington Wizards.

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