Chicago Bulls vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Instant Analysis to Bulls' Loss in Thibodeau's Return
For the first time since being fired two summers ago by the Chicago Bulls, Tom Thibodeau returned as an NBA head coach on Tuesday night with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Did Thibs leave Chicago with a hint of revenge?
Whether you thought the Chicago Bulls firing Tom Thibodeau was the right move or not, it happened. He’s gone. That’s that.
What also happened: Thibodeau returned to the United Center on Tuesday night for the first time as an opposing head coach to face the Bulls as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Thibodeau, who was hired by the Bulls before the 2010-11 season and fired after the 2014-15 season, won over 64 percent of his games and was named NBA Coach of the Year after his first season in Chicago.
But, would Thibodeau and his new bunch of kids from the Twin Cities leave the Windy City with a much-needed W after losses in 18 of their first 24 games?
Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look of Tuesday’s game, including some highlights of Thibodeau’s return to Chicago.
What up, Thibs?
So, Thibodeau showed up … but the rest of the Wolves didn’t.
Inside of the first seven minutes, the Bulls led the Wolves, 26-6.
Robin Lopez was outscoring Minnesota by himself, 10-6, and then blocked Karl-Anthony Towns at the rim.
The Wolves were able to find some consistent offense towards the end of the frame, led by Andrew Wiggins, who scored nine points in the first quarter.
Also, Dwyane Wade did some things.
The Bulls led 38-22 after the first quarter while shooting 72.7 percent from the field. Robin Lopez led the Bulls with 10 points on five shot attempts. Jerian Grant chipped in eight points in place of the injured Rajon Rondo (ankle) with a couple 3-pointers. Jimmy Butler had six points, three rebounds and five assists, too.
Is that good? That seems good.
The second quarter ran as the first quarter did. The Bulls were the better team.
Not only did Cristiano Felicio get early minutes in the rotation once again off the bench, he caught this great lob from Dwyane Wade, who had five assists in the first 16 minutes of the game.
Doug McDermott also had six points in his first nine minutes, while the Bulls continued their hot shooting. (With 8:10 left before halftime, the Bulls had 47 points and were shooting 67.9 percent from the field, which is good.)
Jimmy Butler rested early in the quarter and was seen without a shoe on his left foot for a period of time. He was rolling a lacrosse ball on the bottom of his foot before coming back into the game to do this to Andrew Wiggins, which seemed kind of rude.
But then, things changed over the final five minutes of the quarter.
The Bulls let their guard down in the later portion of the quarter and that got the Wolves right back into the game.
Plus, it helps when your 21-year-old superstar of a big man can make these kinds of plays:
Towns had five points and six rebounds in the first half, while Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins picked up the scoring load by scoring 26 points combined in the first half to trim the once-21-point lead for the Bulls all the way down to four points heading to the third quarter.
The Wolves outscored the Bulls in the quarter, 30-18.
The momentum for the Wolves carried over into the third quarter.
They outplayed the Bulls for much of the frame, even taking a four-point lead at 74-70 (their first lead of the game came with 6:33 in the quarter) with 2:25 left in the quarter.
Not everything was completely terrible for the Bulls. Taj Gibson baptized Gorgui Dieng — who was a key offensive performer for the Wolves — for a nasty one-handed slam.
Then, Robin Lopez made Karl-Anthony Towns his son with a ridiculous block at the rim on a Towns dunk attempt. By rule, Lopez never has to pay for Portillo’s ever again in Chicago.
But, the Wolves would win the third quarter as well, 26-19, and took a 78-75 lead into the final quarter.
Play Cristiano Felicio and good things happen.
Here’s the proof:
Felicio’s offensive rebound was the 12th of the night for the Bulls, along with Butler’s 19th and 20th points on the night to give the Bulls an 87-85 lead with about six minutes left.
Both teams went back-and-forth throughout the first half of the final quarter and plays like this kept the Bulls from the game getting away from them. Well that, and the Wolves couldn’t buy a bucket much in the fourth quarter.
It was the most fascinating finish in the world because, although it was a close ballgame down the stretch, neither team could really find anything offensively.
And then, it felt like Jimmy Butler was going to lead the Bulls back for a win, until he didn’t.
Dwyane Wade Alley Oop To Jimmy Butler https://t.co/ghDSPllJeu
— Gustavo Vega (@iamvega1982) December 14, 2016
Those plays happened on back-to-back possessions for the Bulls to tie the game at 91 with 1:34 left.
(The Bulls wouldn’t score again until after Dwyane Wade was ejected with two technical fouls with 14 seconds left and Butler hitting a garbage time 3 with eight ticks left.)
The revenge of the Thibodeau was complete with a 99-94 victory for Minnesota.
Not great, Bulls.
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