For the fourth consecutive season, the Chicago Bulls have swept the season series vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Despite Chicago's recent struggles on the road (1-5 in last 6 coming in), the rough month and a half they've had: 9-14 since the beginning of last February and the fact that they were coming off a narrow victory over the Pacers on Saturday, the Bulls handed the Wolves their 44th L on the year.
Chicago has now won 7-straight game vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves and they did so tonight without two of their top three players: Derrick Rose (ACL) & Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis).
Despite a career night from Derrick Williams thanks to an explosive second half where he scored 23 of his 28 points to tie a career-high, set just four games ago in a win over the Hornets.
Despite playing without Derrick Rose & Joakim Noah, the Bulls got big games from Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng & Carlos Boozer to boost them to a 7-point W. Even though the Bulls were shorthanded and playing in the second game of a back-to-back, Tom Thibodeau used an 8-man rotation. Starting Hinrich, Butler, Deng, Boozer & Mohammed and bringing Robinson, Cook & Gibson off the bench.
For once the Wolves had more player available than their opponent, but it didn't matter in this one. Every time the Wolves put together any kind of run to pull themselves within striking distance, the Bulls would muster enough energy to boost the score back to double digits.
Tonight's box score...
Williams was instrumental in keeping this one close with that huge second half, however beyond him & Rubio there were more negatives than positives in individual performances tonight. Rubio had yet another big game he stuffed the stat sheet as usual, but also as usual, he had plenty of intangibles to his game and things that don't show up in the box score that really aided the team. His energy, his spirit, his hustle, his defense and most recently his fearlessness when driving to the rim for layups that more and more end in made baskets or him parading to the free throw line.
I said in the our gameday preview that the Bulls would need big performances from Deng & Boozer and that Robinson was likely to score (at least) 15 points in this one. Well...Boozer & Deng both finished in double figures and Robinson led the team with 22 points & 10 assists in 34 minutes off the bench. Chicago finished the night with 5 players in double figures.
The big key to this Chicago win was their hustle and determination on the boards. Noah is Chicago's leading rebounder with 11.4 a game and without him the entire team knew they had to make a concerted effort to get to the loose balls. The Bulls tallied up 20 offensive rebounds and ended the game with a +20 advantage overall.
If Derrick Rose ever decides to come back this season and Noah's foot heals up, they could make some noise as a late seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
The Wolves play again on Tuesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit to face the Pistons. Stay tuned for a preview of that one, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!