The Bulls played a mirror of themselves tonight in Charlotte, with the home team Bobcats taking the win in overtime. Chicago had no real reason to care about this game, other than that they are the Bulls and they always care. They tried their best to win this one, despite its relative meaninglessness in playoff seeding. In fact, they cared and tried so much that Coach Thibodeau played Jimmy Butler 48 minutes and Joakim Noah played over 42 minutes. Chicago does have four days off until they start the postseason on Sunday, but it bears repeating that this game just did not matter at all in the grand scheme. I will say, though, that I was weirdly proud to see the Bulls taking this game seriously, wanting to win for its own sake. That’s been their whole shtick in the Thibodeau era and it should hardly come as a surprise that it was also true tonight.
The Bobcats won by controlling things inside, winning both the rebounding and the scoring in the paint battles pretty handily. Al Jefferson was a huge part of that as he notched 18 total rebounds. Kemba Walker also tossed in 22 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds from the point guard slot, while also fouling out Kirk Hinrich at the end of regulation. For their part the Bulls seemed to be relatively in control of this game for much of it until a little under 3 minutes remaining in regulation when they suddenly could no longer hit a shot. That cold snap continued through most of the overtime and it was ultimately the difference between winning and losing. Hopefully the Bulls have gotten that bit of extremely cold shooting and overall offensive ineptitude out of their system in time for the postseason, but given their lowly points per possession on the year and the quality of playoff level defense, along with the Bulls’ own stingy defense, Chicago’s fans should probably brace themselves for more ugly, low scoring affairs.