On Thursday night, the Chicago Bulls entered the United Center with one thing on their mind: snapping another win streak. This time, the victim would be the New York Knicks who were riding a 13-game winning streak backed by some incredible performances by Carmelo Anthony.
The Bulls were yet again playing without Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson. Yet again, the rest of the team stepped up and rose to the occasion. It may have taken overtime to do it, but the Bulls successfully snapped the Knicks’ run.
Starting with the exciting bench play of Nate Robinson and backed by the consistent defensive effort and offensive output from Jimmy Butler, the Bulls pulled off another shocker with a banged-up roster. Both Robinson have been enormous surprises for the Bulls this season, contributing in large amounts each and every game.
While Butler played incredibly well tonight, this game was all about Robinson. In overtime especially, Robinson was the offensive and emotional lift the Bulls needed to put the Knicks away. Between his clutch free throws, 3-point shots and tenacious play all around, Robinson was spectacular, and ended with 35 points, including eight of those in overtime. The Knicks scored just four points in overtime.
Butler chipped in with another solid defensive effort and managed another impressive double-double, finishing the game with 22 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Butler has been one of the key guys to step in and play extremely well in the absence of so many important players.
Robinson and Butler are going to be playing giant roles for the Bulls in a couple of weeks.
Heading into the playoffs, the Bulls are still a mystery. Why can their injury-ridden roster perform at such a high level against the best of the best, yet continue to fall against the league’s worst as displayed with two losses in the last week to the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors?
I guess the obvious, comical answer would be that the Bulls should be thankful that none of the NBA‘s bottom-feeders will be meeting them in the playoffs. By that logic, they have nothing to worry about.
The reality is, however, the Bulls could be in trouble. If they do not play like they did tonight in every single playoff game, there is no way they go very far. But, on the other hand, will they end up getting Rose, Noah and Gibson back? Who knows. If they do, that changes things. We will just have to wait and see.