Game 50: Chicago Bulls (27-23) lose to Minnesota Timberwolves (16-36), 112-105
February 6, 2016
Target Center – Minneapolis
The Bulls came into Saturday night’s matchup having just played in Denver the previous night, so there was a chance of fatigue. Jimmy Butler was also ruled out with a left knee strain, so the Bulls would have to win without their star. But the the Bulls didn’t seem too affected, and they even got Mike Dunleavy and Pau Gasol back. That is, they weren’t playing poorly at first.
It was a tight first quarter, but the Timberwolves come out on top with 26-21 first quarter lead. Kirk Hinrich and Doug McDermott combined for five points to get the Bulls’ first points of the quarter, and it helped set the pace that got them back into the game. In fact, it was the start of a very strong second quarter, both offensively and defensively. The Bulls outscored the Timberwolves 34-23 in the second quarter to head into halftime with a six-point, 55-49, lead.
It took a bit of time for the Bulls to get going in the third quarter, allowing the Timberwolves to get themselves back into the game. It didn’t even take a minute for the Timberwolves to tie the game up at 55. From there, it was a pretty even matchup: Gorgui Dieng scored 10 of the Timberwolves’ 35 points, and Dunleavy scored five of the Bulls’ 29 points — two of which came off a dunk — to help end the quarter with the score tied at 84.
The Bulls couldn’t slow down the Timberwolves, though. And that was despite the fact they had built up a 105-100 lead with 2:55 left in the game. Instead, the Bulls failed to score again despite getting open looks — although having Gasol take 3-pointers isn’t the best option even if they’re open one — and Andrew Wiggins scored six of his team’s final eight points to lead them to a win.
Player of the Game
Dieng had a near triple-double for the night with 24 points on 10-for-13 from the field, 13 rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes. To put things into better perspective as to how well Dieng did, consider the fact he came into the game averaging 8.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in 24.8 minutes.
The Bulls clearly didn’t do well defending in transition considering they were absolutely dominated by the Timberwolves in fast-break points, 20-7. With a young team like the Timberwolves, being able to defend well in transition is crucial, which is exactly what the Bulls failed to do.
The Bulls weren’t as assertive on the boards Saturday night, as they were outrebounded 45-31. The deficit in rebounding also proves how they weren’t defending as well as they needed to.
One good thing that came out of the Bulls’ loss was that there was a pretty even scoring distribution among their players. Four players scored in double figures: Gasol (25), Derrick Rose (18), E’Twaun Moore (17) and Bobby Portis (15). Hinrich and McDermott came close to joining those four with eight points apiece.
The Bulls play the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night at 6 p.m. central.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.