If Chicago Bulls basketball became in fun in January, it's officially reverted back to a soul-sucking lifestyle burden in February. With just two (very winnable) games left this month, it doesn't feel too early to call February a disaster. The Bulls are 4-7 since the calendar flipped, losers of six of their last nine. Just as importantly, the sense of joy brought by the emergence of Jimmy Butler, All-Star recognition for Joakim Noah and Luol Deng and big wins over the Heat and Knicks has been replaced by injuries, poor shooting and an unnerving sense of dread concerning the return of Derrick Rose. This site has done well to keep the Rose business separate from the team taking the court every night, but as losses have piled up this month and Rose's recovery keeps making weekly headlines, it's hard not to view the two storylines as the intertwined double helix strands of the Bulls' DNA. Maybe the circus surrounding Rose doesn't have a tangible impact on Chicago's play, but there's no denying that the Bulls need their superstar now more than ever. The Bulls just need something positive, something to get excited about, something to divert our attention from the team's slow trickle down the Eastern Conference standings. In his place, there's just bad basketball. Over the last nine games -- using David West's low post destruction of Luol Deng in Indy on Feb. 4 as the starting point -- the Bulls are playing offensive basketball at sub-Bobcats levels. That's not an exaggeration: Chicago is posting a 95.01 offensive rating over its last nine, a full point worse than what the Bobcats have done this season as the NBA's worst offensive team. What's interesting is that Chicago's numbers aren't down across the board during the last nine, not even offensively. The Bulls have been heavily reliant on ball movement to get the offense in gear all season long without Rose, and that hasn't changed. The Bulls' 64.6 percent assist rate on the season is second in the NBA; over the last nine games, they're posting an assist rate of 65.3 percent. The offensive rebounding is also still there. Chicago's 30.4 offensive rebounding percentage is tied for No. 3 in the league on the season; over the last nine, they're putting up a 32.1 offensive rebounding rate.
Chicago Bulls notebook: Anatomy of a skid
Blog-A-Bull | Feb 26