It started out to be a very long night for the Bulls who, eliminated from the playoffs several days ago, appeared to be sleep-walking against the lowly 76’ers. The Bulls trailed by 24 points in the second quarter.
Then, the team woke up, going on a 25-1 run, to at one time take a 19 point lead. Chicago held on for the ten point victory, 115-105, the 42nd of the season.
Perhaps in an attempt to soften the media scrutiny after this difficult season, Bulls management put out statements that in said in effect, changes will be made, but Fred Hoiberg will be back as head coach.
“We understand accountability,” said Bulls executive John Paxson. “We are accountable for what the team did this year. We don’t run from it. That’s on us. We get it.”
Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf put out a statement that said upper management and the head coach will do what it can to improve the team for next season. Expect roster changes to be made. This team looks like it might be broken up.
First, Paxson and Gar Forman, of the front office, will want to look at what F Nikola Mirotic did in the last game. Mirotic hit seven treys on 7-11 from behind the arc to lead the team with 32 points. Justin Holiday, the guard who has come on strong in recent weeks, put up 29 points, a career high. He made 5 three-pointers. Even F Tony Snell, who had disappeared at times, played over 30 minutes and hit 2-3 from long distance to score 13 points.
The Bulls shot itself back into the game, and surged past Philadelphia who ends the season with a 10-72 record.
Guard Jimmy Butler ended his season with a triple double: 12 boards, 10 assists, and ten points. Wednesday night he played as distributor rather than scorer. Forward Doug McDermott came off the bench to score 16 in his last game of the season.
Chicago sat out Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose, and Mike Dunleavy. Taj Gibson was also out due to a rib contusion.
Philadelphia was led by Robert Covington’s 27 points. Hollis Thompson added 21. The team had recent front office changes, and now have a new leadership with Bryan Colangelo as General Manager.
Chicago ends a disappointing season when many expected it to compete with Cleveland for dominance in the Eastern Conference. Instead, this team under-performed with Hoiberg at the helm. Hoiberg admitted he made some “mistakes” and learned some lessons and will be a better coach next season.
Which player he has to coach, remains to be seen.