After a big win on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Bulls followed up on Sunday with another great performance on the road against the 25-17 Memphis Grizzlies. The Bulls won a closely contested game 108-104. This game came down to the wire. With both teams tied with 2:00 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Jimmy Butler proceeded to take over the game scoring 9 of his 16 points in the period and had a timely steal on an inbound pass with 6 seconds left in the game to seal the victory for the Bulls.
The Bulls, playing on the second night of a back to back, came out ice cold in the first quarter only scoring 14 points and shooting 5/21 as a team in the period. The team awoke in the second period, following the lead of Doug McDermott who scored 22 of his 31 points (career high) in the quarter. Doug McDermott looked like a man on a mission in this game. Up to that point, Doug was shooting a career low 34% from beyond the arc on the season, coming off of a 2015-16 season in which he had the 6th highest three point percentage in the league at 43%. In this contest Doug was almost unstoppable–shooting over smaller defenders in the post, nailing shots from the three point line, and playing active off the ball to get open on the offensive end. His confidence was through the roof in this one. Hopefully this game can spark a fire in Doug, who can be a very lethal weapon off the bench for this team. If he can consistently shoot the three, as the Bulls were accustomed to last season, as well as continue to be active on the glass and the defensive end, he can really be the player the Bulls thought he would be when the team traded up for the 11th pick in the 2014 draft to acquire him. Coming off an incredible college career at Creighton, many people believed he would become a prolific scorer in the league with a deadly stroke from three. Many compared him to other sharpshooting Creighton alum, Kyle Korver. Unfortunately, he has yet to become that threat the Bulls organization was looking for. Following two relatively mediocre seasons, many believed this would be his breakout year. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if he can turn this season around and become the player the Bulls organization hoped he could be.
In other news, Paul Zipser made his second career start in this game with Dwyane Wade out of this contest due to rest. Zipser had a quiet game, only scoring 5 points and grabbing 2 rebounds. I’m still perplexed why Hoiberg chooses Zipser to start when Wade is out. The only reason I can think of is that Hoiberg doesn’t want to mess with the chemistry the bench is beginning to build. Starting Zipser would allow Hoiberg to keep his bench rotations normal, therefore allowing his second team to gel. I really hope Zipser takes advantage of this opportunity to play meaningful minutes at such a young age. It’ll be interesting to see throughout the rest of the season if the 22 year-old German can start putting up numbers for this team. Maybe this early playing time will be good for his career? Only time will tell.
The Bulls are 21-21 and are back to .500 on the season. The Bulls play again on Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks at home. As the team continues to play well and with 5 of the next 7 opponents under .500 (Dallas, Sacramento, Orlando, Miami, and Philadelphia), the Bulls can look to really rack up some wins as they head towards All Star weekend. Stay tuned for more coverage.