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Article updated: 3/23/2014 8:07 PM

Offering a solution for Bulls’ struggling offense

By Mike McGraw

This was not a stellar week for the Bulls' offense.

They scored 79 points in a loss at Indiana but have a chance to show improvement when the Pacers hit the United Center for Monday's rematch.

In wins over Philadelphia, the Bulls scored 102 and 91 points, which isn't so bad except when considering the 76ers are the league's worst defensive team, allowing 110 points per game.

It's safe to say Tom Thibodeau isn't looking for advice, but here's a suggestion anyway: The Bulls might get better results from Mike Dunleavy by playing him less.

When Dunleavy signed last summer, he was expected to add 3-point accuracy. He'd been shooting 40 percent from long range for the previous three seasons, peaking at 42.8 percent last year with the Milwaukee Bucks.

During those past three seasons, Dunleavy never averaged more than 28 minutes per game. With Luol Deng playing in Cleveland, Dunleavy has taken on a heavier workload.

Since Feb. 1, Dunleavy has been averaging 34.2 minutes. During that time, he's shooting 39 percent overall, 33 percent from 3-point range.

Let's face it, Dunleavy is 33 and doesn't own a burly physique. Jimmy Butler might thrive on playing 46 minutes per night, but extended time is not bringing the best from Dunleavy.

After hitting 2 of 8 shots in Saturday's win over Philadelphia, Dunleavy talked briefly about his shooting slump. He's clearly frustrated by recent results.

"Some nights the ball doesn't go in as much as you'd like. Not much else to it," he said. "You can draw any conclusions you want to it. I wish I had an answer, though."

The Bulls' team statistics since Feb. 1 are remarkable. Seven players are averaging double figures, led by Taj Gibson and D.J. Augustin with 15 points each. Getting to the foul line helps Butler (14.3 ppg) stay efficient. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich both are shooting 40 percent from 3-point range during that stretch.

Joakim Noah has the Bulls' highest shooting percentage since Feb. 1 at 52.2 percent. Dunleavy is lowest of the top seven at 39 percent.

What could the Bulls do differently? Well, everyone but Thibodeau seems curious to see what Jimmer Fredette could do if given a chance. He really has only played garbage minutes since joining the Bulls on March 2.

If defense is a concern, put him on the floor with Hinrich and Butler. Thibodeau has used plenty of subpar individual defenders on the floor since taking over the Bulls.

It doesn't have to be Fredette, though. Tony Snell played four minutes total in the past two games. He might have some rookie moments, but, heck, the starting five was on the floor when the Bulls gave up a 19-0 run in the third quarter Friday at Indiana.

The numbers don't lie. The Bulls are the lowest-scoring team in the NBA for a reason.

If the goal is to reach the second round of the playoffs and be able to play a competitive series, the Bulls need to find extra offense.

A more efficient Dunleavy could make a difference. Maybe moving from heavy to medium usage would do the trick.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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