A Trip to Denver, Beverley Talks Coming Home, Gasol’s Jersey Retirement, and Other Bulls Bullets
Is there any way for me to fast-forward through tonight’s game?
While it would be incredibly on-brand for the Bulls to confusingly beat the Nuggets tonight. My guess is this one ends up a lot similar to what we saw against the Phoenix Suns last week. Bulls come out hungry against a good team. Bulls take a brief lead. Bulls lose control of the steering wheel near the end of the 3rd quarter.
Oh, and they give up some crucial offensive rebounds!
- The Bulls have struggled mightily with offensive rebounds, turnovers, and 3-point shotmaking in recent weeks (and … well … all season long). While the rebounding wasn’t a major issue the last time these two teams played, the other two problems reared their ugly heads. Chicago turned the ball over 19 times with four players racking up at least three cough-ups. Meanwhile, they lost the battle behind the arc a staggering 39-18. Michael Porter Jr., in particular, killed the Bulls with a 6-9 performance from downtown and led the way with a game-high 31 points.
- MVP front-runner Nikola Jokic only managed to score 8 points in that November meeting, but let’s not pretend he didn’t have his fingerprints all over the game. The big man dished an easy 14 assists to go along with his 4-4 performance from the field. And 12 of those assists came in the first half! I don’t care how well the stats say the Bulls’ defense has played in recent weeks, Jokic can pick apart any team in the league. It’s hard not to think he’ll do that again tonight.
- Now, there is a somewhat reasonable recipe for how the Bulls can hang around with the West’s best team: Put laxatives in their Gatorade jug. Fine, I’m kidding (but I’ll try slipping Benny the Bull a 20). Denver does allow the 10th-most points off turnovers each game, and they also allow the 7th-most points in the paint, per NBA Stats. If the Bulls’ 7th-ranked defense can get their mitts on the ball and turn defense into offense in transition, they could put themselves in a position to pull off the upset. Likewise, Zach LaVine must stay in attack mode and hunt opportunities in the paint.
- Speaking of which, LaVine has been on an absolute tear since the All-Star break. He’s averaging 29.6 points per game over his last 11 contests, which has included a 53.1 percent field goal percentage and a 41.4 percent clip from behind the arc. I know the Bulls’ dismal record makes this feel far less meaningful, but it’s encouraging to see him return to All-Star form. We still have to keep in mind the long-term future of this team, and LaVine playing at this level is positive (whether it be from a future team-building perspective or even offseason trade perspective).
- The Chicago Bulls released an All-Access episode centered around Patrick Beverley’s return home. Again, as crappy as the team has played in recent weeks, this is a fun off-the-court story to follow. Beverley seems legitimately honored to put on the Bulls jersey, and I enjoyed watching him talk about his connections to the city. Give it a watch below or on YouTube here.
- An old friend received quite the honor last night. Pau Gasol watched his jersey rise into the Lakers’ rafters and hang next to the name Kobe Bryant. The ceremony was truly touching, and Gasol reminded all of us why it’s so easy to root for him:
“To those who much is given, much is expected,” Gasol said at the end of his reiterment ceremony speech. “And I will continue to commit my life to impacting others, to making a different, to inspiring, to helping others, to making this world a healthier and better place.”
- The Bulls’ organization was well-represented at Gasol’s celebration. Not only did the man himself play two All-Star seasons in a Chicago uniform, but both Jimmy Butler and Phil Jackson were in attendance to give the big man a round of applause. It’s kind of a bummer we only got one good year of the Butler-Gasol duo. That is probably one of the more underappreciated Bulls teams of the last two decades, especially when considering how these past six or so years have turned out.
- DeMar gonna DeMar
- I chuckled
- Barkley in Chicago could have been fun.