Aussies in NBA: Bairstow logs first season start in loss to Nuggets
The somewhat forgotten Aussie of our seven-strong crop popped up in a start against the Denver Nuggets yesterday, filling in for the injured Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic.
Coming into the game, Bairstow had only managed to hit the hardwood for 4.3 minutes per game, playing behind a very crowded front court. The Bulls big man however, got his first start of the season on Saturday (his first under coach Hoiberg) and logged ten minutes of play, his first since their clash against the Clippers last week. It may have been more had he not gotten himself into early foul trouble, however it was certainly good to see the Brisbane native play some meaningful minutes.
Bairstow finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds and a steal (box score) but the Bulls fell to the Nuggets 115-110 and dropped to 27-22 on the season, good enough for sixth in the East. Despite going 1 from 4 from the field, Bairstow knocked down both of his free throw attempts.
His only basket came in the 4th quarter on an open 16-foot jumper off a Derrick Rose pass to put the Bulls up by 2, with just under 3 minutes remaining.
Even without stuffing the stat sheet, Bairstow did his bit for the team. He allowed Bobby Portis to maintain his spot coming off the bench without hurting the team. Bairstow managed to finish the night with a +5 plus/minus.
The start was Bairstow's second of his NBA career, after starting against the Nuggets in November 2014 where he logged two points and two rebounds in 19 minutes of play.
It’s unclear whether Gasol or Mirotic will be back in the lineup for their game against the Timberwolves later, or if Bairstow will continue to log minutes even if the duo fails to make a return. One thing is for sure: we certainly haven’t seen the last of the former Lobo this season.