Rose and Butler Combine For 55 points, Bulls Top Thunder 104-98

Going into tonight’s game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls, there was one thing I was truly hoping we wouldn’t have to deal with from the commentary. “Are the Bulls looking to ship off Derrick Rose in the near future?” has been a question floating around ever since ESPN Reporter Brian Windhorst discussed his personal belief that the Bulls wished to separate from Rose, a statement which Windhorst reiterated multiple times was just a feeling he had.

Unfortunately my hopes were shattered as throughout the entirety of the broadcast either former NBA player turned pundit Charles Barkley proceeded to ramble on about Derrick Rose throughout the game and usually incoherently discussing his frustrations with how Derrick has looked and how the Bulls are now “Jimmy’s Team”. He quickly changed his opinion when Rose went off the second half, including scoring 10 straight for the Bulls in the fourth quarter en route to their 104-98 victory over a tough Thunder team that, after dropping a game to the Raptors last night, were hungry for a win. To ensure I don’t go off more on Barkley’s commentary and other frustrating media related things, here’s my main bullet points from this game:

  • Derrick Rose had an absolutely outstanding performance tonight that needs to be recognized. He started off rough in the first half, his jumper wasn’t falling and while he did drive into the paint, he was having difficulty being able to get anything going offensively. Going into the second half, Derrick’s approach to the game seemed to be similar to the first half but with more aggressiveness. He didn’t rely on his jump shot as much until his outstanding fourth quarter (which definitely made me nostalgic for MVP-era Rose, where he would just take over a quarter like that), rather continued to look for lanes and drive to the basket. In addition to this, he showed great court vision as he was able to pick up a few dimes in the game as well. One of the premier plays of the night in my opinion was from the second quarter. Rose was attacking the basket on the left side, drawing 3 defenders towards him with an additional defender focused on him and not paying attention to Jimmy, allowing for Derrick to dish the ball to Jimmy for an easy slam. These are the scoring opportunities that open up when Derrick is able to drive into the paint: the defense has no other option that to collapse on him due to his clever scoring ability.

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  • Jimmy Butler deserves just as much praise in tonight’s performance, as he was crucial to the Bulls success in this one. Jimmy played some solid defense on Kevin Durant tonight who you have to play similarly to LeBron, in that you expect him to get his buckets throughout the game. Butler played the passing lanes well as well, being able to disrupt passes and cause the offensive players to think twice passing towards his assignment. Butler did shoulder the offensive load in the first half as well.
  • Joakim Noah came up huge in this one in a way that the stat sheet may not demonstrate well. He was smart with his defensive rotations. Included in this was a possession where he switched onto Durant and managed to force him into a poor shot in the second quarter (much to the delight of Charles Barkley).
  • The Bulls defense NEEDS to improve going forward on ensuring there isn’t too much help defensive. It may be a symptom of facing off against an elite PG tonight, but Westbrook was getting easy assists when the Bulls would double him on drives, leaving a man wide open (Ibaka or Durant, often).
  • The offense heavy starting five that Hoiberg employed tonight is something I wouldn’t mind seeing going forward. It’s easier to cover up McDermott’s sloppy defense if he’s surrounded by other wing defenders that are decent enough.
  • The Bulls protected the ball well, only committing 6 turnovers tonight.
  • Outside of Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, no starter played over 31 minutes tonight.

The Chicago Bulls look forward to a contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, whereas the Oklahoma City Thunder look to turn around their current 3-game losing skid as they take on the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Full Box Score:

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Jonathan Slusar

Jonathan Slusar is a podcaster, NBA analyst, and post-game writer for the Chicago Bulls on MultipleSources.net. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in English, and is an avid opponent to radio jingles.

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