Skip to main content

Timberwolves-Bulls Preview

  • Author:
  • Publish date:

In one uncharacteristic blowout defeat, the Chicago Bulls' recent identity as a defensive stalwart seemed lost while Derrick Rose appeared increasingly incapable of playing at an MVP level.

One impressive victory showed why both reactions may have been premature.

With Rose looking to build on his best performance, the host Bulls go for their 11th win in 12 meetings with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.

One of the league's best defensive teams under former coach Tom Thibodeau, questions arose about what kind of team Chicago had become under new offensive-minded coach Fred Hoiberg after a 130-105 loss at Charlotte on Tuesday.

The Bulls allowed 100 points by the end of the third quarter for the first time since 1990 and gave up their highest total in regulation since a 132-108 loss to Utah on March 9, 2010.

Rose scored four points on 2-of-8 shooting as he continued to deal with some blurred vision as a result of a broken orbital bone. It was the first time in his seven-year career - 345 games - that he failed to score in double figures in three straight.

But after Jimmy Butler promised a better effort and Hoiberg - a former sharp-shooting guard - worked with Rose on his jumper, the Bulls erased those concerns. They held high-scoring Oklahoma City to a season-low 45.2 field-goal percentage in a 104-98 home win.

Rose, still wearing a face mask after missing the preseason, led the way with a season-high 29 points while Butler added 26.

"What happened in Charlotte was alarming," center Joakim Noah told the team's official website. "It was definitely an important win just because of the way we played the other night. ... We're all learning and to get to where we want to get to, we have a lot of work to do."

Hoiberg will try to guide the Bulls (4-2) to their 11th consecutive home win as he faces an organization for which he played, served as an assistant coach and worked in the front office.

Butler had 24 points and hit two free throws with 0.2 seconds left in a 106-105 road win over the Wolves on Nov. 1, 2014. He scored 28 in a 96-89 victory over Minnesota at the United Center on Feb. 27.

Minnesota (2-2) looks to get back on track following back-to-back home defeats. The club hasn't won its first three on the road since opening 4-0 there in 2001-02.

The Wolves have struggled offensively with a 41.5 field-goal percentage and 25.0 percent from 3-point range. They finished with season lows in points and field-goal percentage (35.3) in Thursday's 96-84 home loss to Miami.

Andrew Wiggins shot 5 of 18 and scored 12 while rookie Karl-Anthony Towns had six points on 3 of 13. Wiggins, last season's Rookie of the Year, is averaging 13.8 points and 29.3 percent from the field. He scored 22 and went 8 of 21 against the Bulls in 2014-15.

"The toughest thing with the kids today, they think they know how to play," coach Sam Mitchell told the team's official website. "And you know what, it's just going to take a certain amount of failure before they realize that they aren't going to reinvent this game."

Nikola Pekovic remains without an official timeline for return following surgery on his Achilles.