One of the Bulls’ trouble spots has been scoring in the fourth quarter. For the season, they have averaged 23.6 PPG in the final 12 minutes. Their scoring problems are evident when they lose.
Their fourth quarter scoring is 22.5 PPG in their losses.
There are two reasons for the Bulls struggles in the fourth quarter.
Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau uses a defensive lineup in the fourth. They also have struggled with identifying who should take the big shots down the stretch.
Can the Bulls count on Taj Gibson to take and make the big shot? What about Jimmy Butler, can he make those shots?
Gibson is a superb defender who will add the occasional shot or two but nothing more. He scores his points while wearing the proverbial hard hat. From hustle plays, offensive rebounds and fast breaks.
In Butler’s case, it is too soon to determine whether he can make clutch baskets or not. As of now, he is not offensive-minded enough to take certain shots. With the ball in his hands, Butler looks to pass rather than shoot.
Gibson and Butler make up for two-fifths of the Bulls fourth quarter lineup. Neither player provides an offensive spark. Therefore, they do not warrant attention from opposing defenses.
The other players on the floor has usually been Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and either Kirk Hinrich or Nate Robinson.
Among those players, only Deng and Robinson are scorers. Where is the scoring going to come from when there are only one or two players capable to provide some sort of an offensive punch?
The solution is inserting Richard Hamilton in the later stages of the fourth quarter in place of Butler. Hamilton can spread the floor and score on the perimeter. He will make the defense guard the Bulls man-to-man, thus allowing better scoring opportunities.
The Bulls should also sit Carlos Boozer midway in the third quarter and start him in the fourth. If the Bulls need instant offense, a second-string frontcourt player will most likely guard Boozer. This could give the Bulls some early momentum.