Nate Robinson has, for the most part, been erratic throughout his career, but every now and then he'll have an outburst of offensive brilliance. Such was the case on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks as Robinson helped the Bulls get back to .500 this preseason with a 100-94 victory at the United Center.
Injected into the starting lineup in place of Kirk Hinrich who was sidelined with an injury to his thumb, "Nate Rob" led the attack with 24 points, 13 assists and zero turnovers. He played with patience and poise, and the starting unit actually looked pretty good with him on the floor running the offense.
Derrick Rose, who? OK, that's taking it a bit too far. But little Nate was the biggest player on the floor against the Bucks, and displaying his leadership skills, the diminutive guard said all the right things afterward.
“I was just really trying to get guys involved and finding them in the right spots,” said Robinson postgame. “It was a team effort. My teammates made shots, we played great defense as a team, and it was fun.”
The Bulls had four starters register double-double’s in the game. Robinson’s 24 and 13, Joakim Noah’s 16 points and 12 assists, and even Carlos Boozer quietly put up 10 points and 10 rebounds. And although Rip Hamilton didn't register a double-double, he did have 23 points while shooting the ball well from the field. It’s not often you’ll see such an impressive performance like that from a group of starters, but when it does happen – on any squad, not just the Bulls – that’s a team that’ll be hard to beat that night. And yes, it’s the preseason so it doesn’t matter as much, but after three games of offensive struggles, it was good to see.
The Bulls offensive struggles in the fourth quarter continued against the Bucks. After leading by as many as 13 points with just over nine minutes to play in regulation, five minutes later, Milwaukee had whittled the lead down to just three points. They would get no closer as Chicago held them off and won the game, but that was only because Thibs put his starters back in.
The Bulls are still struggling from the three-point line this season. The team was 4-10 from deep on Tuesday night, primarily on the back of Robinson, who was 4-8 from downtown. As a collective, Chicago is just 10-56 (.179 percent) from beyond the arc and Marco Belinelli, the team’s designated replacement shooter for the departed Kyle Korver, is 0-7 from outside. Fans shouldn’t expect it to be an ongoing issue, but the numbers are still alarming and need to be improved upon.