After a 6 game winning streak, things came crashing down against the Atlanta Hawks. It was beginning to look like the Chicago Bulls were turning into a consistent and dominant team, when they go ahead and lay an egg, giving one of their worst performances yet.
Bulls forward Joakim Noah didn’t make the disastrous trip, and so missed his ninth straight game due to a left shoulder sprain. The team is looking to get him back by Monday when they play the Wasgington Wizards. “We’ll get him doing some live stuff tomorrow,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Hopefully he’ll get through a full practice.” They will need him as the Bulls dropped to 6-8 on the road.
Jimmy Butler scored 14 of his 27 points in the third quarter and Nikola Mirotic had 24 points for Chicago, but the Bulls still ended up badly losing 105-120 cutting short a nice six-game win streak. It was the defense where the Bulls failed, and what let them down as the Hawks shot 52 percent and moved the ball almost unchallenged for 33 assists.
So on a Monday night in Washington against a weaker seeded team, the Bulls will try to bounce back and get a seventh win in eight games, if they can play intimidating host to the Wizards. It’s not like Chicago doesn’t have what it takes to be a contender this year. They knocked off the Toronto Raptors twice, the Indiana Pacers, the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics during that winning streak, but it looks like they just ranout of gas against a hot Eastern Conference playoff contender in Atlanta on Saturday.
“They rocked us right away, hit us with a right-hand hook, stumbled us,” Bulls forward Taj Gibson told national media. “We didn’t respond early. They made a good run, and it’s always hard to fight back the whole game.” The Wizards on the other side, are looking find some consistency themselves after they lost five of their last seven games and are looking to make a quick turn around on the road, away from the pressure. On Saturday, Washington was able to snap a three-game skid with a 105-99 victory over in Orlando against the Magic, have worked hard enough to go over 100 points in two of their last four games. That’s an improvement since they failed to reach 90 in the other two contests.
At 16-19, Washington can blame their recent downslide to spate of injuries that has put a lot of pressure on point guard John Wall. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Month has so far been up to the challenge but he can’t do it all alone. Wall recorded 24 points and 10 assists on Saturday for his 10th double-double in the last 12 games, but due to pressure, he also committed seven turnovers. The former No. 1 overall pick could benefit if the team starts playing more cohesively and more points come from the bench. Also the return of shooting guard Bradley Beal to the team who suffered a stress fracture could be a big boost to Wall, but that won’t come tomorrow night as Beal is reportedly a week or two away from returning to the lineup.
The Bulls are a solid 22-13, but they surrendered 64 points in the first half on Saturday, and that’s just unacceptable. Head coach Fred Hoiberg was really disappointed in his team’s effort taht night. “They were getting whatever they wanted out there,” Hoiberg told reporters. “They had 30 in the first, 34 in the second. That’s just too many. They got every 50-50 ball. All the energy, hustle plays, they beat us in the first half.” That setback dropped the team to 6-8 away from home, and that doesn’t look too good for the Bulls who will play 12 of their next 15 games away from home after they finish up with Washington. So they have to make tomorrow night count.
Last season, the teams split four meetings they had 50-50, with Washington getting one on the road in Chicago. Can Chicago come out on top? After their last performance, they have some serious redeeming to do.
Our Pick: Bulls over Wizards, 102-93