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Derrick Rose returns, but familiar problems plague Bulls

Wednesday night was supposed to be a feel-good night for the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose returned to the lineup after a nearly six-week absence following surgery on his torn meniscus. The Bulls were playing a weak team in the Orlando Magic, and it seemed like the perfect game for Rose to ease back into the lineup. Furthermore, Chicago was 15-4 when its preferred starting lineup played, and the roster was totally healthy for one of the few times all season.

Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

At first, it looked like the Bulls were going to cruise to an easy victory, going up by 15 points in the first half. But then the offense bogged down and the defense couldn’t get stops, which allowed the Magic to get back into the game. And in the final seconds, Chicago allowed a go-ahead layup to Victor Oladipo despite three of the team’s best defenders in Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson being on the floor. Oladipo torched Butler off the dribble, and Noah and Gibson weren’t able to effectively protect the rim to stop what turned out to be the game-winning basket. The Bulls failed to answer, and the result was a 105-103 loss.

So instead of a feel-good night, it was just another nightmarish loss in a season full of nightmarish losses. It was arguably the worst loss of the season given the circumstances, second maybe only to the disastrous double-overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers right after upsetting the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. For whatever reason, the Bulls really struggled against the Magic this season, and this should have been the third loss against Orlando.

Rose, as most probably expected, didn’t look all that great, mostly jacking up jumpers and looking hesitant to attack the rim. The point guard finished with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting overall and 1-of-6 from three. He also had four turnovers and had some issues defending Elfrid Payton drives to the basket.

Rose’s return to the lineup boosted the Bulls’ odds to win a title to 14/1, the best they’ve been since he was healthy last. But as of right now, Chicago doesn’t look the part of a championship team. The Bulls are inconsistent on both sides of the ball, and head coach Tom Thibodeau is struggling to find the right rotations that’ll work. A fully healthy Bulls team has a lot of talent, but considering how all over the place the team has been this season, it’s hard to see them putting it all together over the next few months and coming away with a championship.

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