When the Chicago Bulls hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves on November 10, I expected them to pull out a victory mainly because Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio were missing from Minnesota’s lineup. Despite the absence of these players, the Timberwolves kept the game very competitive and led 41-40 at the break. The Bulls would eventually pull away in the second half, which resulted in an 87-80 victory, improving their record to 4-2 on the season. Despite how difficult the game was to watch at times, I was pleased the Bulls were able to come away with the win even if the opposing team was missing two of its star players.
One of the major differences in this game compared to the loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder a few nights ago was the play of the bench. The second unit only recorded 14 points against the Thunder and I mentioned the reserves would have to give us consistent production if the Bulls were going to stay afloat during Rose’s absence. As irony would have it, the bench responded with 40 points against the Timberwolves, led by Nate Robinson, who scored a game-high 18 points in 31 minutes of action.
Another reserve who played a key role off the bench for Chicago was Marco Belinelli. In watching Belinelli since the preseason, I can honestly say that he did not always look comfortable in the Bulls’ rotation. This was especially true on the defensive end of the floor. However, against the Timberwolves, Belinelli showed why the Bulls acquired him over the summer. He scored 11 points, including nine consecutive points in the final quarter, to provide the Bulls with a little breathing room in what was a tight game for most of the night. It is obvious that points will not come easy for the team this season, so the ability to stretch the opposing defense will be important for the Bulls as the season progresses.
Not all the news was positive though as Kirk Hinrich left the game in the second quarter with an injury and his status will be day-to-day. Carlos Boozer, who has been a defensive liability for the Bulls at times, failed to hit a shot for the first time since 2003. In the post-game interview, head coach Tom Thiobdeau said that his shot is not falling right now, but that Boozer would have to do other things to help the team win. With defense not being one of Boozer’s strengths, I am hoping this offensive performance was more of an aberration rather than a preview of things to come.
James Tillman III is a resident of the Chicago-land area, who has followed the Bulls since the 1987-1988 season. James is also a Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo! Network and a Sports Journalist for Sports Rantz Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @jtillman9693
“Call him Bench Marco”, Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times