Recap: Bulls Blown Out In Houston

I’m not gonna give a whole drawn-out dramatic telling of tonight’s narrative. If you missed the game, here’s how it went: Bulls briefly led to start, then Houston claimed the lead on a flurry from James Harden, who looked just fine on his bad ankle, and the Rockets stretched their lead bit by bit into the second quarter. At that point, the Bulls made a fool’s gold run against the Rocket bench to make it close, but order was restored by halftime. Early in the third quarter the Bulls made that last-gasp-before-all-life-leaves-your-body run until Houston turned on the jets and shut the door for good, with benches clearing for the final few minutes before the buzzer sounded for a 109-94 final score. Now, some scattered observations:

-This was the most watchable Bulls game in a while. That’s damning with faint praise at its finest, but this game didn’t make you want to bleed your eyes out, à la the superpower serum thingy from Arrow.

-Jimmy Butler had his best game since returning from injury, with 20 points on 8-15 shooting in 35 minutes, including hitting his only triple and finishing a couple lobs at the rim. He only had one rebound and did not tally an assist, but you won’t find me complaining. If and when Jimmy gets fully healthy, the most productive thing that can come out of this lost season is seeing how much of the offensive burden he is capable of handling. I want him to adopt J.R. Smith’s conscience and be super aggressive so he and the team can better figure out his role going forward.

-D.J. Augustin continues to distance himself from Marquis Teague. He’s not good, but as Bill Simmons likes to say, he does some stuff. He has decent athleticism and some semblance of range unlike Kirk Hinrich and when he’s on the court, he at least looks like he’s played basketball before, unlike Teague. If, God forbid, next year’s backup point guard is already on the roster, I feel confident in saying Augustin is the “best” choice among them.

-Speaking of Teague, I remain bullish that’s there an NBA player somewhere in there. However, he could develop and still not be the long-term backup for Chicago because they desperately need shooters and that above all is Teague’s weak spot at this point.

-This isn’t exactly hard-hitting analysis, but Chandler Parsons is really fun to watch, and so is Harden when he’s not driving with the sole purpose of drawing a foul.

-After another bad game, I’ve realized Carlos Boozer is like if Zach Randolph went soft in every way. Neither has any lift, so they’re struggling to finish at the rim as they age, but at least Z-Bo has toughness, physicality and is not to be messed with. There was a James Harden drive in the second quarter that I would screencap if the video were up on where Harden drove right past Boozer, who had neither the size/athleticism to challenge the shot, nor the inclination, as he barely tried to do anything about it. Even when Taj Gibson is going through down stretches like he is at the moment, he at least brings the ability to alter shots and possibly make the defender reconsider a better plan of attack.

-Another random Boozer note: I feel like the Bulls never, ever recover a ball after it has deflected off of him. The sequence always ends with an opponent who had begun to retreat to defend getting the ball and Boozer clapping his hands in regret, and on occasion when it doesn’t go like that, he jumps up to get the ball and fumbles it out of bounds, as he did at one point tonight.

-Joakim Noah spiked the ball once and clearly wanted to later in the game for a second time before holding back. Other than Tom Thibodeau, the losing appears to be hitting Jo the hardest, which makes sense considering the passion with which he plays and that his previous eight basketball seasons featured seven postseason trips and two college championships.

-Going back to Thibs, I’m pretty curious if he’ll change his tune at all as the season goes on. He can’t fall back on his crutch phrases like “having enough to win with” because everyone knows they don’t. After a fuming Thibs gave his sideline interview after the first quarter, his friend Jeff Van Gundy noted that he has to respond in the way he did as he can’t simply say “We don’t have enough firepower,” but at some point he has to become gentler in his critiques. He might be the closest thing the NBA has to an NFL coach, but he’s no dummy. I think this season could be a valuable learning experience for him in terms of developing players rather than putting them through his personal Hunger Games and playing the guys left standing. Even the best coaches have to continue to grow and learn as they gain experience.

-Along those lines, Tony Snell clearly earned regular rotation time during his stay in the starting lineup and since Deng and Butler have returned, he’s barely gotten run outside of garbage time. C’mon Thibs, let the rookie play.

-After tonight, the Bulls sit a half game outside the playoff picture, with Cleveland, Brooklyn and New York likely to pass them in the coming games. If you’re pro-tanking like me, they are about to pass Cleveland, Brooklyn and New York, and only sit a couple games back of Orlando for third-worst in the East. The Bulls play on national TV again tomorrow night in Oklahoma City.



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4 Responses to Recap: Bulls Blown Out In Houston

    bruce leeroy December 19, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    This bullsh@t is unfair to noah , he deserves better than this crap cheap ass org. Nazr is his backup ? Wtf man !

    thibs never plays rookies, yet they give him teague murpuy and snell. This is a squad they came up with even before rose went down. Dunleavy was nice, but even with him the went cheap.

    And thibs deserves blame too. Whats the point of subbing snell in with 3 min left in the game , what the hell is that ?

    bruce leeroy December 19, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    And just in case your wondering why booz sucks, the dude has checked out already.

    The biggest tragedy of this bulls era besides rose , is boozer offensive skill going to total waste. thanks again thibs

  3. Trenton Jocz December 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Bruce I’d say for Snell, garbage time is better than no time and for as cheap as the Bulls org is, they gave Dunleavy the maximum that they could with their mini mid-level exception. That signing was lauded as one of the league’s best and it’s still a really good contract.

    bruce leeroy December 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    Yo trent, I agree on both counts, except snell has the only decent looking jumpshot on this team, you cant wait til garbage time to sub him in. You have deng and butler hurt, and as I write this hes out of the thunder game……

    I believe dunleavy ws a great pick up also , but I assumed since he took less to be a bull, it meant the org didnt want to pay more. I still dont like his matt bonner jjmper but he makes them so whatever.

    And From some of the articles ive read, jerry reinsdorf cares about profits and baseball alot more than the bulls.

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