Let’s rewind to July, 2014.
Chicago was swept up in Melo Mania as the Bulls debuted the United Center’s new LCD screens with photoshopped images of Carmelo Anthony. The Bulls emerged as a top favorite to land Carmelo Anthony in free agency and the city was legitimately sullen when ‘Melo decided to stay home.
After tonight, that feels like an alternate universe — hard to believe it even happened 6 months ago.
This of course opened the door for the Bulls to sign Pau Gasol to a discounted $7.1 million dollar contract for this year and 2 more to come.
Gasol has been playing at a contract level that’s double that. All season, Gasol has been the Bulls’ consistent low-post threat with 18.7 PPG on top of a near career-best 11.1 RPG and an actual career-best 2.3 BPG. The difference between him and the previous power forward for the Bulls, Carlos Boozer, is night and day. There’s the offense… then there’s this telling stat on defense:
Pau Gasol (this season): 77 blocks.
Carlos Boozer (4 years with the Bulls): 92 blocks.
When it comes to Gasol on the offensive end though, we’re honestly spoiled as Bulls fans. Gasol is a savant. And he put all his offensive skills on full display tonight. ICYMI, watch the full highlights of Gasol’s career-high 46 points above (besting his previous 44 point outing vs. Seattle in 2006.) If you don’t have the 5 minutes, there’s also this.
Game Summary: pic.twitter.com/23dYXQTcUE
— Nillz (@TheBullsShow) January 11, 2015
The other game summary: Bulls win 95-87. Gasol also added 18 boards on top of the 46 points, and it was a great overall team win that featured standout contributions from Jimmy Butler (near triple double) and Kirk Hinrich (lots of subtle disruptive plays on defense + timely jumpers + GRIT of course.) With Gasol’s all-star play being no more clear than tonight, plus the emergence of Jimmy Butler, Bulls fans are now really thinking June.