CHICAGO – The Chicago Bulls hosted the New Orleans Pelicans in some afternoon basketball at the United Center on Saturday. The Bulls entered the game, losers of three straight games this week while Jimmy Butler was battling an illness.
Bulls Head Coach Fred Hoiberg mentioned before the game that Butler lost 10 pounds due to his week-long battle with a flu-like illness. The drop in weight would not stop Butler on Saturday afternoon, as Butler ensured that he put the Bulls back in the win column.
The Pelicans, led by Anthony Davis, entered the game winners of back-to-back ballgames, would be no match for the Bulls who led by as many as nine in the first quarter. The Pelicans did not lay down though, eventually taking the lead at the end of the first quarter, and closing Bulls leads down to just one on separate occasions in the second half.
The Pelicans took a one point lead after the first quarter, but the Bulls outscored New Orleans 34-23 in the second quarter and would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the afternoon as the Bulls earned the victory over the Pelicans 107-99. Jimmy Butler led the way for the Bulls with 28 points, eight rebounds, six assists, four steals, and a pair of blocks in 39 minutes played.
Dwyane Wade got off to a slow start on the afternoon, but would turn it on in the fourth quarter and take the Bulls home for the victory, finishing with 22 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
Taj Gibson recorded a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Bulls, controlling the paint for Chicago who out-rebounded the Pelicans 63-42 and helping them outscore the Pelicans 46-42 in the paint. The Bulls bench was severely out performed on the afternoon, being outscored 41-25 by New Orleans.
Cristiano Felicio added nine points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes, while his counterpart at the center position Robin Lopez scored just six points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 26 minutes. Lopez was 3 of 12 from the field on Saturday.
Prior to the game, Bulls Head Coach Fred Hoiberg announced that veteran guard Dwyane Wade would not travel with the team to Memphis, or play in tomorrow’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Wade has been receiving the second half of back-to-back games off as of late, in an effort to save his legs for the end of the season, and a potential playoff run.
The problem with that theory is, if the season ended today… the Bulls would not have to worry about Wade’s legs in the playoffs, because they would be on the outside looking in on the postseason.
The Bulls just lost three straight games this week, are under .500, and out of the playoff picture as of this evening. This is not the time to be resting one of your star players, especially when you just picked up a win, in a game that looked like the Bulls has some rhythm in Hoiberg’s rotation, something they have not been able to do consistently. Wade needs to be playing tomorrow in Memphis, he needs to stop breaking any little shred of momentum that the Bulls gain, by taking a scheduled day off in the middle of the season.
Resting a player on a team that is barely a fringe playoff team with a gaping lack of depth, is just not a formula for success. Who knows who is making that decision, it could be Hoiberg, it could be Wade, it could be the front-office, or some combination of those parties. Whoever is making that decision though, seriously needs to re-evaluate the importance of resting one of the Bulls primary scorers for a playoff run that doesn’t exist as of now.
The Bulls (20-21) will visit the Memphis Grizzlies (25-17) on Sunday at 8:00 PM (CT). You can catch the action on CSN-Chicago (TV) and 890-WLSAM (Radio).