Chicago Bulls vs. San Antonio Spurs: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Chicago
Gregg Popovich’s crew proved to be too much to handle, as Chicago fell 101-83.
The Bulls entered this game as the third-lowest scoring team in the NBA. You knew that their offense might struggle against the Spurs, but their 3-for-15 start was even worse than usual.
The offense was a problem, as nobody could score out of the gate, but it was a solid defensive effort that helped Chicago turn things around early. The Bulls came in allowing the third-fewest points per game, and they ended up outscoring the Spurs 17-7 in the final five-and-a-half minutes of the first quarter.
The second period began, and the contest quickly became a game of runs. Chicago got off to a hot 20-10 start, but it was San Antonio that put together an 11-0 run around the two-minute mark.
The Bulls ended up taking a five-point lead into halftime, and surprisingly enough, it was because of their success in the fast break.
The Bulls haven’t been able to score in transition this season. They certainly struggled with turnovers at times throughout this game, but when they took care of the ball, they found success and scored easy buckets.
Unfortunately, the Bulls weren't able to do that in the third period, and that’s when San Antonio began to pull away.
After being outscored by nine in the third, Chicago needed to play efficiently on both sides of the ball. That would never happen, and the game of runs quickly turned into domination by the Spurs.
Chicago scored just 31 points in the second half and went on to shoot just 36.7 percent on the night. That kind of showing will rarely get the job done, but allowing 54.1-percent shooting to the home team is what did them in on Wednesday night.
Point Guard: Nate Robinson
We've seen Nate Robinson shoot a poor percentage more than once this season, but he was as guilty as anybody when it came to missing shots against the San Antonio Spurs.
Robinson began this game making just one of his first eight shots. He was doing a decent job of getting others involved, as he collected four first-quarter assists, but he only went on to record one more in the final 36 minutes.
Robinson finished the game 3-of-13 from the field, but the more telling story is that the Chicago Bulls finally started pulling ahead when the point guard went to the bench. After playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter, Robinson sat the entire second period, and it was clear that the team was finally establishing other ways to score.
But if we know anything about Robinson, it's that he's never afraid to put up shots. That mentality is what earned him a few tough buckets, but it's what also led him to shoot 23 percent on the night.
Shooting Guard: Marco Belinelli
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Marco Belinelli, the other half of the Chicago Bull's backcourt, seemingly made up the difference for Nate Robinson's poor early performance.
In the first half alone, the 2-guard was creating shots for both himself and his teammates. He took four assists and 14 points into the third quarter, as he completed five of his eight attempts, including 2-of-3 from deep.
What was especially nice to see from Belinelli was his ability to score in a multitude of ways. He wasn't just playing the role of a jump shooter on the road, as he was challenging the interior defense of the San Antonio Spurs.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, Belinelli began missing shots late in the third and never quite regained his stroke. He shot 50 percent on the night, scoring 21 points, but a quiet showing late in the game made it impossible for his team to come back.
Small Forward: Luol Deng
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In a game that saw the Chicago Bulls begin inefficiently, Luol Deng was the one player who consistently made his shots in the opening minutes. The 27-year-old made three of his first five attempts, and he was the first on the roster to get into double digits.
Once Marco Belinelli found the stroke, Deng's game began to quiet down, but having him start well is a luxury when no one else is scoring.
Deng wasn't just putting the ball in the basket, as he was leaving his prints all over the stat sheet. The 6'9" forward was grabbing boards, collecting assists and snatching steals from the onset of this contest.
He finished the game with 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting, but he also managed to snatch seven rebounds and three assists to go with two steals on the defensive side of the floor.
Power Forward: Carlos Boozer
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Carlos Boozer got off to a quiet start in this one and never truly stood out at any point in this contest.
Whether it was at the rim or in the mid-range game, the power forward had trouble finding consistency in his shot. His jumper has been a valuable tool throughout his time in Chicago, but in a game like this, it proved to be extremely forgettable.
On the glass, Boozer did a decent job against the San Antonio Spurs' bigs. He grabbed eight boards on the night, but he was the only big guy in the starting lineup not to reach double-digit rebounds.
Defensively, the Bulls needed interior defense, and that's something Boozer never gave them. Any presence they had down low was provided by Noah, and Boozer's absence was a big reason the Spurs scored 46 points in the paint.
Center: Joakim Noah
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Joakim Noah entered this contest on an absolute roll. He was averaging 19.3 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.3 blocks over his past three games, and you knew he would come out as aggressive as ever against the No. 1 team in the NBA.
Noah did a great job of crashing the boards early. He had five rebounds in the first six minutes, and four of them came on the offensive side of the floor.
The problem was that those offensive boards weren't translating into points, as he missed his first four shots and was blocked by Tim Duncan on multiple attempts.
By the end of the game, Noah was never able to impact the scoring column, as he made just four of his 13 shots. Eight points isn't going to make a difference in a game like this, but his four blocks and 13 rebounds helped keep the Spurs honest down on the low block.
Sixth Man: Jimmy Butler
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Jimmy Butler didn't have the most memorable night of his career, but he did the little things that shouldn't be ignored.
Defensively, Butler rotated well from start to finish. It's true that he was beaten off the dribble on more than one occasion, but his help defense and quick reactions led to his three steals in 26 minutes.
He also collected three rebounds and two assists, and he kept up with the pace when the team got out in transition.
Unfortunately for Butler, he didn't do much scoring, and that's where most people look first when checking box scores. He scored five points on 25-percent shooting, and he never stepped up when the starters were missing shots.
Butler won't receive much credit in this kind of a loss, but his showing was decent, and he deserves recognition for his intangibles.
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The Chicago Bulls had trouble scoring throughout much of this contest, and they weren't able to find much relief when it came to their second unit.
Aside from Jimmy Butler, the only Chicago player to produce was Marquis Teague. The rookie point guard surprised some people by shooting 3-of-4 from behind the arc, and he added three assists to go alongside his three rebounds.
To compare the Bulls' second unit to the San Antonio Spurs' bench is completely unfair, but you wouldn't have the whole picture of this game without doing just that. The Spurs' bench outscored Chicago's reserves 45-18 and outplayed the road team in virtually ever aspect of the game.
The Bulls' backups provided energy Wednesday night, but that's about it in the double-digit loss.