Dwyane Wade hit a midrange pull-up jumper to give Chicago a 10 point lead over Atlanta with 3:02 left in the game. The Bulls had this one in the bag.
Then Chicago fell apart. They shot 2-of-9 the rest of the way while the Hawks got hot, went on a 19-2 run, drained threes, and ended up winning the game 119-114.
After the game, Wade unloaded on his team speaking to the media, via Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.
“I don’t know what happened, but you continue to be in these kinds of situations and lose games like this, you really don’t care enough,” Wade said. “You don’t care enough. It’s got to mean that much to you to want to win. And it doesn’t. So I don’t know. I don’t know happened. I don’t know how you fix it. It just doesn’t mean enough for guys around here to want to win ball games.
“It pisses me off, but I can’t be frustrated and I can’t care too much for these guys. They got to care for themselves. We got to do better.”
Jimmy Butler echoed that.
“I heard what D-(Wade) was over there saying, yeah,” Butler said. “Mother——- just got to care if we win or lose. At the end of the day, do whatever it takes to help the team win. You play your role to the tee. Be a star in your role, man.
“That’s how you win in this league, man. You have to embrace what this team, what this organization needs for you to do on either end of the floor. On top of everything else, just play every possession like it’s your last. We don’t play hard all the time. It’s very disappointing whenever we don’t play hard.”
Wade had 33 points on the second night of a back-to-back — that’s a gift to the team from a player with a lot of miles on him. The Bulls squandered it. You can understand why he was frustrated. Down the stretch, the Atlanta defense focused on Wade and Butler, and the Bulls dutifully moved the ball and got open threes for Paul Zipser and Nikola Mirotic, both of whom missed. After the game, Wade said he and Butler need to be the guys taking the big shots.
The Bulls have gone 4-6 in their last 10 and are 23-24 on the season, which has them clinging to the eight seed. This is not what Wade thought he was signing up for on his return to his hometown. He pictured himself, Butler, and Rajon Rondo leading a core and improving young players into becoming something dangerous. Instead, they don’t have the floor spacing on offense to create great looks, and they are inconsistent defensively. Consistency of any kind has been missing from the Bulls all season.
Maybe this kind of loss is the kick the team needs. More effort and a few more threes falling would help. However, from my vantage point, the problems with the Bulls start with the front office and the roster construction. Wade and Butler and just trying to salvage the situation.