The Bulls must have been glad to get a win after back-to-back blowout losses to the Hawks and Rockets…
…but they likely would have liked to have played better.
The Wizards are a league-worst 4-24 this season. According to Basketball-Reference, they rank 30th in PPG (88.8), Field Goal Percentage (40.6), Effective Field Goal Percentage (44.3) and Offensive Rating (95.5). They also rank 29th in Three-point Percentage (31.1), Free Throw Attempts (553), Pythagorean Wins (7), Margin of Victory (-7.82) and Simple Rating System (-8.42).
What I’m trying to say is that the Wizards aren’t very good.
All things being equal, the Bulls probably should have routed this awful club. I mean, Washington’s starting lineup includes Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple and Martell Webster. Their top two reserves were Kevin Seraphin and Shelvin Mack. As a team, the Wizards shot 36.5 percent from the field, went 3-for-10 from three-point range and gave up 19 points off 17 turnovers.
Yet the Bulls never could pull away despite building a 13-point third-quarter lead. They couldn’t get much going on offense — the Wizards actually rank 10th in Defensive Rating — shooting just 39.1 percent and compiling a dull Offensive Rating of 97.4…which would rank them 29th in the league if that was their season average.
Joakim Noah and Luol Deng combined to shoot 8-for-24 from the field. Carlos Boozer had another double-double (15 points and 12 rebounds) but went only 5-for-12. Nate Robinson, Nazr Mohammed and Taj Gibson combined to hit 6-for-18 off the bench.
The Bulls got by thanks to a season-low 9 turnovers and hotter-than-usual three-point shooting thanks largely to Kirk Hinrich (2-for-4) and Marco Belinelli (2-for-3). Belinelli (team-high 17 points) and Hinrich (10 points, 7 assists, 6 boards) were the team’s offensive leaders.
Marco’s strong performance came despite returning to the bench due to the return of Rip Hamilton after a 12-game absence due to a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “Marco was terrific. He has been playing well for a long time. He hit big shots and made big plays.”
After a slow start — which had many Bulls fans squirming and complaining — Belinelli seems to have found his comfort zone in the team’s offense.
Said Belinelli: “The first couple weeks of the season, I was a little bit nervous, (did not have) too much confidence in myself.”
Added Thibs: “When you are new to a team, he was trying to fit in. He was trying to learn the system. He has already proven to be a good player in this league, so it was a matter of time. Once he had a better understanding of his teammates, and they had a better understanding of him, he is good. He can score a lot of different ways.”
Belinelli scored 8 of the team’s 17 fourth quarter points, which included two three-pointers, the second of which was a real back-breaker for the Wizards, who had pulled to within three points with just over five minutes to go.
Hey, it was nice to get that clutch shooting from Marco, but it probably shouldn’t have been necessary.
Said Noah: “It definitely wasn’t pretty. Both teams shot pretty low percentages. We still have to play better and we still have to talk more on transition. We’re a work in progress. We’re happy we got back on the winning track.”
The Bulls struggled in various areas, like rebounding, where Emeka Okafor (18 boards) led the Wizards to a 56-49 edge on the glass. That haul included 16 offensive rebounds, which led to 15 second-chance points.
That wasn’t the only issue the Bulls had in the paint…they also shot a miserable 10-for-24 (41 percent) at the rim, thanks in large part to weak sauce from Deng (1-for-4), Boozer (2-for-6) and Gibson (0-for-2).
That’s just life in Bulls Land. It’s a dogfight almost every night.