The Philadelphia 76ers were in town Sunday night to face the Bulls. Normally, playing the Sixers would be considered an easy win. But, with the Bulls recent inconsistencies, as well as the Sixers coming off of a hot streak where they won 10 or their last 15 games, no game is truly a definite win this season. Furthermore, as the Bulls face internal turmoil, no can successfully determine which Bulls team will come out every night.
With all of that in mind, the Bulls looked good in last night’s game. After coming off of Friday’s embarrassing loss at home to the Miami Heat, Butler and Wade, who were both placed out of the starting line up in that game, came out strong Sunday against the Sixers. Butler played aggressively and once again stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 28 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. Wade also had a solid game, ending the contest with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. The Bulls were up for most of this contest, leading by as much as 20 points. After allowing the Sixers to tie the game at 79 points with 4:43 left in the third quarter, the Bulls quickly regained the lead and coasted to a 121-108 victory.
This game was a full team effort. The Bulls had a huge contribution from Robin Lopez in this one. Lopez, known mostly for his aggressive play and rebounding abilities had a great game on both ends of the floor. Lopez had a double double in this game of 21 points and 10 rebounds. The Bulls as a team were +16 when Lopez was in the game. Along with Lopez being a huge factor in last night’s win, the Bulls bench was essential to this victory. Outscoring the Sixers’ bench 49-15, the bench mob received nice contributions from Paul Zipser, Nikola Mirotić, Doug McDermott and Rajon Rondo. Zipser was specifically impressive in this one, scoring 13 points off of the bench. Zipser, who has averaged 22.0 minutes per game in the last 10 games, has been contributing more and more for the team. His early development as a young player has surprised many fans, including myself. Hoiberg obviously feels that he can be a key contributor off of the bench. With more consistent minutes, it’ll be exciting to see how Zipser can continue to improve as the season progresses on.
Now, I would like to comment on the recent drama surrounding the Bulls organization. After a tough loss on Wednesday in which the Bulls gave up a 10 point lead late in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, visibly furious, took their anger out on the media and made various comments about the team. Wade said, “I’m 35 years old, man. I’ve got three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it. … It has to change. It has to hurt inside to lose games like this.” Butler also commented saying, “(Expletive) just got to care if we win or lose. At the end of the day, do whatever it takes to help the team win. You play your role to the T. Be a star in your role, man.”
These comments led to an immediate reaction by other players on the team, specifically Rondo who commented on Instagram saying, “My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn’t take days off.”
With the way things are going for the Bulls this season, drama and arguments within the organization are the last team this team needs. Currently in the midst of a very underachieving season, internal issues like this one could ruin this team for good. As a fan, I hate to see this happening. I love the Bulls and I love the game of basketball, and I definitely know nothing good can come out of a divided organization. All any fan can ask for is a group of guys who want to come out night after night, fighting and representing the name on the front of their jersey. Regardless of any off court issues, it’s time for the Bulls to settle their differences and start competing like every fan knows this team can.
The Bulls play again on Wednesday in Oklahoma City against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Stay tuned to Intern Sports for more coverage.