Dire straits for the Bulls?
Not after this scintillating OT win on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns. On Thursday, the Bulls parted ways with the reliable Taj Gibson, and Doug McDermott, whose defensive liabilities might have caught up with him. They were traded along with a No. 2 draft pick to Oklahoma City for three role players.
Bulls management decided not to sign Gibson to a new contract and wanted to get something for him. It wasn’t a lot but at least they didn’t repeat the Pau Gasol scenario last spring when he just signed with the Spurs as a free-agent.
Jimmy Butler scored 22 and Dwyane Wade had 23 points to help rally the Bulls late in the fourth quarter. Wade fouled Devin Booker with 1.5 ticks on the clock in regulation on a three-point attempt. Booker made two of three free-throws to send it to overtime. But the Bulls scored 20 points and took care of business, to get the feel good W, 128-121, over Phoenix.
Chicago made 46% of its three-point attempts. Nikola Mirotic and rookie Denzel Valentine drained some big shots in the second half to aid in the cause. The Bulls (28-28) finally reached the .500 mark and are in the playoff hunt. The win gave Chicago a three-game winning streak.
Butler said that for now, he is concentrating on basketball and playing with this new roster.
“Right now, I’m not going anywhere, baby.”
Devin Booker led the Suns with 27 points. Eric Bledsoe added 17 points with ten assists. Phoenix had an 11 point lead with less than five minutes to play, but Chicago stormed back on the magic of Wade and Butler. It was Butler’s trey that tied it at 106 with seconds remaining. He also scored a bucket to put the Bulls up by two with 9.1 seconds left. But Phoenix got those late free-throws to tie it back.
It was a new look Bulls team. Bobby Portis started in place of the departed Gibson. Denzel Valentine had key minutes that McDermott would have taken. Suddenly, the Bulls have become younger. Yet can they be relevant down the stretch?
We will soon find out.