Bulls

/ by Vincent Goodwill
Presented By Goodwill
Bulls

Health is relative this time in the NBA season where physical fatigue is matched usually by physical fatigue as teams go into the home stretch.

So while Dwyane Wade's return is welcomed after a two-game absence stemming from a left quad injury, he certainly didn't sound like someone who was 100 percent. But with the Bulls' grip on a playoff spot loosening by the day, the urgency is there to get back in uniform.

"You gotta play with something. I can't wait to heal like Wolverine. I'd be out the rest of the year trying to heal," said Wade following the team's shootaround before playing the Houston Rockets. "I'm just going to play and hopefully nothing else happens."

Wade missed the last two games, losses to the Pistons and Magic on the road after initially injuring his quad six days ago against the L.A. Clippers. Even with Wade, the fourth quarters haven't been stellar but without him the Bulls have looked lost and disjointed the last two games.

When a team scores 30 fourth-quarter points in two games, it's a recipe for the lottery or a quick and painless first-round exit. Wade said ball movement is the biggest culprit.

"You watch our first halves the last couple of games, the ball has been moving," Wade said. "The defense is obviously an important part of that. Sometimes you get in the fourth quarter, you kind of get slow. And it's all of us, whether it's players or the staff or the play calling or the ball going into the net."

 

And the coaching staff hasn't yet found a way to get Jimmy Butler easier shots, seemingly preferring to let him get trapped on pick and rolls, hoping he'll make the right decision and then praying someone, anyone, will make an open shot.

"We have to make the right play and play the numbers game on the backside," Hoiberg said. "That's what we're trying to do with our offense is draw two on the ball, and when that happens we have to take advantage of it. We haven't done a great job these last couple games obviously of doing that, especially in fourth quarters."

[Buy Bulls tickets]

In theory, having Wade back as a safety valve should bode better but the Bulls have been sputtering through the entire season late in games. Making the trade deadline move to send Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to Oklahoma City seems to only exacerbate the issue.

"Listen, we all got NBA jerseys on, the other team and us," Wade said. "Whoever Coach decides to put on the floor, we gotta rock with it, all of us. We can't worry about that. We just have to play harder, want it a little more. It's going to be tough. Obviously when you make a change like we made, we lost two guys in our rotation. But there's no excuse. We're still in the playoffs."

Yes, but for how long?