Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Chicago
Washington was the more aggressive team out of the gate. Chicago’s defense was allowing looks inside, and the Wizards were the ones playing the more efficient brand of basketball. That script would eventually flip, as Chicago finished the period ahead 25-24, but Washington would never stray too far from its game plan.
Entering halftime, the Wizards were on a roll. They closed out the second quarter on a 15-4 run, and that momentum carried forward into the third. They never stopped attacking the paint, and they managed to stretch that run to 25-6 just three minutes into the second half.
The bigger problem, however, was that the Bulls simply couldn’t put the ball in the basket. They were outscored 23-11 in the third quarter, and they dug themselves into an 18-point hole by the time the fourth period began.
A nice boost of energy from the second unit made you feel as if Chicago had a chance with the final 12 minutes winding down, but it proved to be too little, too late. A better defensive quarter couldn’t make up for an extreme lack of scoring, and the team was never able to recover.
Chicago had been great on the road as of late, but Washington proved that it can be tough at home with John Wall back in the lineup. Something had to give, and unfortunately for the Bulls, home-court advantage took over in this one.
Point Guard: Kirk Hinrich
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Kirk Hinrich is having the worst shooting season of his entire career, but he's begun to find his stroke as of late. Unfortunately for Chicago, a recent stretch of good games did nothing for him Saturday night, as he never got himself going against the Washington Wizards.
In Hinrich's defense, he didn't shoot the ball poorly in this one. He made three of his five attempts—including one of his two three-pointers—but in a game where Chicago desperately needed scoring, Hinrich couldn't give it to them.
The bigger issue at hand here might be that Hinrich did very little to create for his teammates. Chicago's offense was stagnant the final three quarters of the game, and as the starting point guard, you would have liked to see him take a little more initiative when it came to establishing momentum.
Shooting Guard: Rip Hamilton
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The Chicago Bulls don't expect a ton of scoring out of Rip Hamilton these days, but inefficient shooting isn't going to earn him any more minutes.
The starting shooting guard missed four of his first six attempts, and he played in just nine first-half minutes. He did a good job taking smart shots, but as important as it is to be a good decision maker, you have to put the ball in the bucket if you're going to shoot the ball six times in nine minutes.
Hamilton is still good at creating open looks for himself, and he showed that against Washington. Few players in the league are as quick when it comes to catch-and-shoot situations off of curls, and he if ever finds his stroke, he's going to be a deadly weapon.
The problem, of course, comes when he misses shots. Hamilton finished the game with nine points on just 4-11 shooting, turning the ball over three times along the way.
Small Forward: Jimmy Butler
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Luol Deng missed his fifth straight game Saturday night, which meant that Jimmy Butler earned the nod as the starting small forward.
Butler's performance wasn't the most memorable of his recent showings. He played a team-high 45 minutes, yet he took just seven shots the entire contest.
The second-year player's nine-point performance isn't anything to brag about, but at least he remained one of the top options until the contest was finally over.
In a game where the ball isn't going in the basket, Butler did a decent job of staying involved in other areas. Despite not recording a single assist, he did pull down six rebounds. He also held his own defensively, and he managed to go the entire way without recording a single turnover.
Power Forward: Carlos Boozer
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Carlos Boozer's jump shot is a valuable asset as long as it's falling. Unfortunately for the Chicago Bulls, that wasn't the case against the Washington Wizards.
The big man completed just three of his eight shots from the field, and while Washington defenders never felt comfortable leaving him alone, they certainly had the luxury of backing off and focusing on rebounding.
Boozer's frustrations culminated in the second half when he received a flagrant foul and a technical foul in less than a minute's time. At that point in the game, he had a team-worst minus-18 in the plus-minus category, and he had done little to contribute.
He quickly went on to pick up his fourth personal foul just half way through the third period. He exited the game with six points and two rebounds, and he would remain on the bench the rest of the way.
Center: Joakim Noah
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In typical Joakim Noah fashion, the Chicago Bulls center came out with an endless supply of energy.
In a game where nobody took over on offense, Noah finished with nine points, which tied two other players for the second-highest point total on the team. The bigger story, however, is that he managed to pull down 17 rebounds, and he picked up an impressive 10 assists.
As well as Noah played on the glass, you can't ignore the fact that he also gave up 16 rebounds to fellow center Emeka Okafor.
A near triple-double is great by anybody's standards, but you have to look at the whole picture. Chicago got blown out by one of the worst teams in the league, and it was largely due to the fact that the Wizards were able to score inside seemingly whenever they wanted.
You can't take away from what Noah did, but you can't give him a perfect grade considering what Washington was able to accomplish.
Sixth Man: Nate Robinson
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Nate Robinson was the only player for the Chicago Bulls who was truly able to get going offensively.
As the game's leading scorer, Robinson dropped an impressive 19 points in 28 minutes. He was the only player on the Bulls to record double digits in the first half, and while he only managed to score seven in the final two periods, his energy was always where it needed to be.
Even as the game appeared to be in Washington's hands, Robinson never quit. He was hustling on both ends of the floor, and he was making sure that his team didn't quit despite trailing by 18 points in the final period.
Seeing as how Robinson had the ball in his hands for much of this game, he did record a team-high four turnovers. Those turnovers negate his four assists, but his scoring was what people will remember about this performance.
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Balance was the story of the game for the Chicago Bulls, and the bench was no exception.
In the first half alone, Chicago's bench scored 22 points. That may be less than the 28 points Washington's bench took into halftime, but when you consider the fact that the Wizards have had the highest scoring bench in the NBA most of the year, the Bulls did a good job of holding their own on the road.
Nate Robinson was clearly the biggest spark in this game, but Taj Gibson was another crucial piece. He recorded four blocks, and he took advantage of easy looks at the rim, finishing 4-6 from the field.
The only other reserve to earn significant minutes was Marco Belinelli. The two-guard missed most of his shots, but he made up for it by pulling down five rebounds and getting to the foul line.
The Bulls bench would go on to score 33 on the night.