Aussies in NBA: Bairstow shows teeth in loss to Magic

After a one minute outing against the Heat the night before, Cameron Bairstow found himself in a somewhat rare situation Wednesday - he would be starting for the Bulls in Orlando.

Taj Gibson was forced off the lineup, after a hamstring strain saw him leave the floor against the Heat on Tuesday. Coach Hoiberg called upon Bairstow’s fresh legs to help maintain the balance in his rotation.

What followed was Bairstow playing two very different 5-minute spurts at the start and end of the Bulls' fourth straight loss.

The beginning of the night was less than ideal. After securing a defensive rebound, and committing two fouls, Bairstow was subbed for Bobby Portis with 6:55 remaining in the quarter.

Bairstow wasn’t the only one looking flat. The entire Bulls squad had a lacklustre start to the game, and were already down 18-7 when Bairstow left the floor.

What followed was a relatively easy night for the Magic, the Bulls never making a serious run, or bothering to use either Pau Gasol or Derrick Rose in the 4th quarter.

With the Bulls down 100-79 with 5:03 remaining, Bairstow then stepped up to deliver an electrifying run that saw him score 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting. It started with 4:19 remaining in the quarter. Bear ran the floor in transition after a Justin Holiday steal, getting the feed on the block and dropping a nifty left hand hook in traffic.

This was quickly followed by a post up against Aaron Gordon, throwing a nice fake and turning over his left shoulder for a jumper in the lane.

As the clock ticked down to 2 minutes, Bairstow's confidence grew. He snared another rebound, then attacking the defense from the perimeter before spinning into the lane for an ill-advised fadeaway. This was Bairstow’s only miss for the game.

Bairstow has long had a knack for getting to receiver spots for his teammates, and made up for his previously poor shot selection by getting open and hitting a nice jumper from the top of the key with 1:14 left.

Finally, with ten seconds left he buried another jumper from almost the same spot on the floor, again showing his nice shooting touch for a big man.

Scoring 8 points in 5 minutes is one thing, but what is also exciting is the way Bairstow showed his willingness to pass, and ability to fit into the Bulls system.

[gfycat data_id="SpecificGratefulBordercollie"] Twice he tried to return the favour to Holiday with nice passes from the perimeter, creating layup opportunities. The play was stopped for a foul on one, and Holiday missed an easy basket on the second.

The Magic only scored two points after Bairstow rejoined the game, and had their lead cut from 21 to a final winning margin of 13 after his scoring outburst.

Bairstow’s final stat line of 8 points and 2 rebounds from a total 10:08 on the court was a shining light in what was an otherwise frustrating night for the sliding 30-30 Bulls. Aaron Brooks was even ejected for arguing with 6:31 left in the game.

As things stand, the Bulls still have a shot to make the playoffs. More importantly, Cam Bairstow showed his ability to be a potent factor in their postseason ambitions, when given the opportunity.