“Doggy Bag: Bulls v. Spurs (Nov. 30th)”

PAu Block
Pau Gasol and the Bulls pulled out a tough W over LaMarcus Aldridge and San Antonio last night. (NBAE via Getty Images)

Yesterday’s Bulls-Spurs game featured a couple of conference powerhouses in a contest that went down to the wire. Here’s a few observations from the marquee matchup.


FINAL SCORE: Bulls 92, Spurs 89

Stats Leaders:

PTS: Kawhi Leonard – 25  | REBS: Pau Gasol – 13  | ASTS: Tony Parker – 9

Top DOG of the Night: Joakim Noah – 8 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists (23 minutes)


“Jimmy v. Kawhi” 

Jimmy Butler had trouble containing “The Claw” all night long. (Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports)

It was amazing to see Jimmy B. & Kawhi, two UnderDOGS who developed into Top DOGs, battle on the wing. A couple of the best two-way players in the league, neither one gave up much ground in the early going. However, once the second half started, Kawhi’s aggression reached a new level, as he took Jimmy down into the post and imposed his will.

It was a different dynamic for Butler, who was tasked to contain Paul George last time out. PG’s offense was more geared towards long range shooting and isolating off the bounce. Although he did not give up positioning too easily v. Kawhi, the former Finals MVP used his length to lift baby hooks over the top.

On the other end, Butler attempted only 9 shots en route to just 14 points. In the first meeting of “aggressive Kawhi” against “franchise Jimmy,” The Claw came out top (25-14). Individually, at least!


“Vintage Jo”

Noah Board
Joakim Noah was in vintage form v. San Antonio. (Getty Images)

No reason to beat around the bush: Joakim Noah just hasn’t looked the same as a reserve this season. So far, he’s averaging career-lows of 3.1 points on 37% shooting, which is almost impossible as a near 7-footer.

However, Noah’s energy and enthusiasm set the stage for the Bulls to eventually come out on top in this one. Not only did he make excellent rotations on D and crashed the glass with usual barbarity, Noah ROCKED both David West and Tim Duncan, on separate occasions, before finishing at the cup.

Ask any Bulls fan who’s paid attention to the former All-NBA center this season and they’ll tell you Jo definitely turned back the clock and produced a vintage performance (8 pts, 11 rebs, 7 dimes).

Whether it was due to San Antonio playing big (Coach Hoiberg was afford the luxury, in this case, of playing Pau with Noah on the front line), the Bulls playing up to the competition, or the end of a long road trip, it was an encouraging sign to see Joakim return to form.


“Struggle Bus” 

Jimmy Dunk
Pau Gasol and the Bulls pulled out a tough W over LaMarcus Aldridge and San Antonio last night. (NBAE via Getty Images)

Not sure if it was defense or lack of offensive creativity but both teams struggled to get going last night. San Antonio finished at 41% and Chicago shot just 43%, as a back and forth second half came down to the final possession.

Though LaMarcus Aldridge (21) and Kawhi (25) combined for 46 points, the Spurs received only 15 points off the bench and settled for far too many jumpers.

Derrick Rose’s late block on Tony Parker’s three sealed the deal for Chicago, who also received solid defensive contributions from Noah, Gasol and Butler down the stretch. The next step for Fred Hoiberg is to decide which defensive lineup will finish games. Can Tony Snell sneak into the rotation?

Or might he experiment playing Taj Gibson alongside BOTH Pau Gasol and Noah? We shall see.



Though the Bulls came out with an impressive home victory, there is a lot of work to be done. The small forward position is still an inconsistent source of production (Doug McDermott & Tony Snell both reached double digits for the first time since early November; Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s return suffered a setback), D. Rose is in the midst of building confidence and the front court rotation needs more ironing out.

For the Spurs, Chicago’s win snapped a 5-game winning streak and could lead to a slight reform offensively. Kawhi has emerged as San Antonio’s true go-to guy, so maintaining premium ball movement needs to become the emphasis in order to keep everyone else fully engaged.

It’s Coach Pop though…there’s no doubt the Spurs will click, once again, before the new year.


-Jabari J.

Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s