I defy you to find a weirder team than the Chicago Bulls. You can't do it. They go from elite to unwatchable to elite again to unwatchable again so often and so fast that it shouldn't even be possible.
Against the Memphis Grizzlies at home, without Luol Deng, the Bulls came out and played well enough to take a four-point lead at the end of the first quarter. They promptly coughed said lead up, however, in the second quarter, scoring just 12 points. They would then score just 13 in the third quarter, before randomly exploding for 29 in the fourth to force overtime. Then they kind of fell apart in overtime, but still had a couple of chances to tie the game down the stretch, with the game ending in possibly the single weirdest sequence I've ever seen and one that honestly defies description. Starting at the 2:20 second mark of this video, precisely nothing makes any sense.
Two main takeaways: First, Jimmy Butler is pretty good. After a really rough start offensively (he was 1/9 from the field for two points midway through the third quarter), he redeemed himself by going 4/4 from the field and 8/8 from the line from that point on, along with playing stellar defense on Rudy Gay, who finished with 17 points, but was just 6/19 from the field. Luol Deng himself would have been proud.
Now, the second is more confusing and not nearly as happy. Joakim Noah started really well, scoring all 10 of his points in the first quarter on 5/5 from the field. He struggled thereafter, but when he took a seat midway through the third quarter, that was the last time he saw the floor. Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago broke it down well enough that I won't bother repeating what he said, but it was damned peculiar to see Taj Gibson foul out in overtime and be replaced by Nazr Mohammed. Tom Thibodeau is well-known for riding a particular lineup for extended stretches if he thinks it's performing well enough, but that was just weird. Let's hope this is a one-time thing and nothing more comes of it.
Oh, and pour one out for Carlos Boozer and his incredible play of recent weeks. He looked a lot like the Carlos Boozer he was the past two years, rather than the borderline MVP candidate he's been of late. Let's hope this is a one game blip — but I doubt it, personally.
Player o' the Game: Jimmy Butler (18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals)
Anyone who has been following Bulls 101 on Twitter this season knows that I am basically in love with Jimmy Butler's game. I've been calling for him to get more minutes pretty much all season and it was gratifying to see him step up last night, especially after his rough start. Thibs officially has no excuse for playing Luol Deng 40+ minutes per game once he gets back.
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