In the NBA, basketball is often a game of runs.
The Chicago Bulls had the last run of the game, a 15-2 spurt late in the fourth quarter, to put away the visiting Sacramento Kings, 109-102.
Sacramento would not go away. They pulled ahead 95-90 in the fourth quarter, but Chicago answered with a 10-0 run of its own, to go ahead, 105-100. Rajon Rondo scored a basket, but the Bulls got a Jimmy Butler tip-in and a Mike Dunleavy Jr. trey to make it 105-97 with 1:28 to play. The Bulls held on for the home win.
The Bulls star players made plays down the stretch. Derrick Rose had 18 points in the game, and two big buckets in the fourth quarter. Jimmy Butler only scored 11 points, but he had 8 assists and five steals and made key stops in the fourth quarter. Taj Gibson also scored 18 points for the Bulls.
Pau Gasol returned from a four game absence and had his 39th double-double of the season, with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
What was the difference in tonight’s game? According to Coach Hoiberg of the Bulls,
“It was the urgency we showed down the stretch.”
Doug McDermott scored 16 points off the bench and made 4 of 5 three-point baskets…12 points in 13 minutes in the first half. The Kings made a game of it in the third quarter. DeMarcus Cousins had a stellar 19 points, 18 rebounds night. And Darren Collison also scored 19 for the Kings. But the Bulls withstood their firepower and came away with the W.
Chicago (36-33) is virtually in a neck and neck race for the 8th and final playoff spot with Detroit. It looks like a “frantic finish” from here on out. Chicago would like to get a 7th seed and avoid facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first-round. In order for that to happen, they need to keep winning games. The Bulls play the New York Knicks in a few days to conclude this home stand.
Earlier in the game, Coach Hoiberg thought the team started out with low energy. It looked like “we were stuck in mud. I told the team, it can’t happen,” Hoiberg stated. They really didn’t get out of the mud until the final 6:05 of the game, when the team showed some resolve and grit.
This team does have weapons. Butler is still finding his shot after his time off the court due to injury. Gasol just got back to action. McDermott is finding his confidence and his game in the nick of time to help the team. And F-C Taj Gibson is playing well.
Backup guard E’twaun Moore is now slated to miss some games due to his hamstring injury. He is not going to make the next road trip Hoiberg announced earlier today.
The Bulls have 12 games left in the season. Right now, it is a push for the playoffs