The Chicago Bulls have been surprisingly good for a team whose three perimeter players are all weak outside shooters, and they continued their winning ways against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night with a 118-110 victory. It was the second night of a back-to-back, so Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg decided to rest Dwyane Wade, and the lack of another ball-dominant scorer in the starting lineup meant that Jimmy Butler could go to work.
Butler scored a season-high 40 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists, and according to Hoiberg, he called his shot before the game even started:
“He told me before the game, ‘Coach, I’m going for 40 tonight,’ ” Hoiberg said. “And he did it.”
Though both Wade and Butler are shooting more and posting higher percentages from behind the arc than ever before, both are most comfortable in the midrange and attacking the basket. They’re smart enough players to know that they can’t occupy the same space, and sure enough, with the gunner Mirotic inserted into the starting lineup, Butler didn’t make a single three-pointer on his way to 40 points.
It’s a conundrum the Bulls will have to deal with for at least the next two years — they might indeed be a good team with all of Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo on the court, but the evidence is beginning to mount that they’re better when one of them sits.