The Charlotte Hornets are coming off an exhilarating win against the Lakers on Tuesday night. While that game was closer than it should have been — and didn't look anything like a good overall performance or confidence booster until about midway through the third quarter, it still ended with a fun and energetic second half. This will hopefully give the Hornets some momentum heading into a Friday night matchup following a few rest days, against a team that seems to be spiraling downwards as we close in on the new year.
The Chicago Bulls have been inconsistent and hard to dissect since the start of the season, and are currently sitting exactly at .500, with a 14-14 record. At this point in the season, Chicago is playing with an odd pattern--they seem to struggle mightily against bad teams and play at a higher level against quality opponents. The Fred Hoiberg-led club has some very impressive victories on their resume’, including Cleveland and San Antonio, and overall have a 5-4 record against teams over .500. That is better than the Hornets 4-9 record against teams with winning record. On the contrary, though, the Bulls have struggled to a 9-10 record against sub-.500 teams.
Despite a pretty solid record against good teams, recent days have not been kind to Chicago. In December, the Bulls’ have posted just a 4-7 record. In the last four games they’re 1-3, and the only win came at home against a very cold Detroit team. The Bulls’ December schedule hasn’t been particularly tough either, as they have suffered blowout losses to Milwaukee and Dallas, and also fell to Minnesota and Portland.
After a big, headline-filled Summer there was a lot of hype surrounding the Bulls. The signing of Chicago native & future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade, along with point guard Rajon Rondo, had a lot of people excited for the Bulls this season. The combination of Wade, Rondo and superstar Jimmy Butler sounded great on paper but has not really panned out the way Gar Forman and the rest of the Bulls’ front office had hoped.
Of course, it would be unfair to pin the Bulls struggles on any of them individually. Jimmy Butler is putting up very good numbers, over 24 points per game, along with almost seven rebounds and a 45.2 shooting percentage, and Dwyane Wade is averaging almost 20 points per game. While the blame can’t really be placed on any individual, at the end of the day something is not working out for the Bulls as a unit.
The recent poor play of the Bulls, along with two solid wins in a row for Charlotte means the Hornets will cruise, right? Well, no. It means they should win, but the Bulls have showed up ready for big games multiple times this season. The Hornets have been known for slow starts, so they have to be ready for the Bulls to come out firing Friday night, and pay hard from the tip.