I’m going to be blunt, I am annoyed with the Chicago Bulls this morning. I am writing this post the morning after the Bulls lost on the road to the Philadelphia ‘76ers, 103-98. It was a game the Bulls could have easily won, and it’s the second game in a row they’ve had to pull themselves out of a significant hole just to make the score respectable. On Monday, the Bulls pulled off a spectacular late game comeback win against the hated Boston Celtics, mostly on the strength of their defense and a 30+ point performance from DeMar DeRozan. Last night, the Bulls tried to replicate that formula, but came up short against a significantly better than Boston defense. The Philadelphia ‘76ers, while undermanned, are still a top tier defensive team in the NBA. The Bulls messed around and played lazy defense in the 1st half, thinking they could shut the door on the ‘76ers in the 4th quarter and everything would work out. Well, it didn’t, and it’s cost the Bulls the top seed in the East.

Energy. The starters are not playing with enough energy at the opening tip off. This was a game the Bulls should have won, but they allowed the ‘76ers to score 29 points in both the 1st and 2nd quarters, that’s way to many points for a team missing several key starters. Over the course of an 82 game season, you get games like the one we saw last night, a game where the Bulls look tired and out of sorts, the trick is to make sure it’s just a one time thing. The Bulls have a great opportunity to make up for yesterday’s loss on Saturday. They get a 2nd shot at the ‘76ers, this time at home, in Chicago. Hopefully they’ll bring the energy from first tip to final buzzer.

A Couple Positives

DeMar DeRozan – DeRozan has dropped 30+ points in 3 straight games and there is no sign he’s going to stop. His deadly mid-range jump shots have been keeping the Bulls in games, and in contention in the Eastern Conference. With Zach LaVine dealing with his thumb injury, and the bench unable to score, it’s been DeRozan who has shouldered the bulk of the offensive responsibilities. He’s also been engaged and active on defense. DeRozan has been playing with a chip on his shoulder and he’s making the doubters eat crow.

DDJ – Derrick Jones Jr might be the best defender on the Chicago Bulls. He has only played limited minutes this season, getting his first chance at regular rotation minutes after the unfortunate injury to Patrick Williams, but in that small sample size he’s looked good. His “per 100 possessions” stats are kind of crazy. He’s 2nd on the Bulls in steals with 3.3 (Alex Caruso is ahead of him with 4.4), and 2nd on the team in blocks with 5.8 (Tony Bradley has 6.2). DDJ’s defensive rating is a team best 96. His length, athleticism, and energy have been a key component to the Bulls recent 4th quarter comebacks. I anticipate Jones getting more minutes going forward.

I’m keeping this post short. The Bulls have a lot to work out on the offensive side of the ball, and while they’re doing that they need to keep their energy up on defense. Life doesn’t give you a lot of 2nd chances, but fortunately for the Bulls, the basketball schedulers do. They have a chance to make up for their complacency in last nights game against the ‘76ers in the rematch on Saturday. Until they do, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!