D-Rose had a few of his own tricks up his sleeve, but let's face it...this is what people will remember.
Oh how quickly things can change in one month's time. I remember feeling like I was on cloud 9 about a month ago after the Bulls won their 5th straight on the road against contending Western Conference teams. The Bulls were talking about securing the 5th seed by the end of March. At this point, I hope we can secure the 10th seed.
Tonight was a historic night. Not like the good kind of history...but more like the we just allowed a 35 point come-back loss brand of history. Not quite as bad, but...BAD.
Courtesy of Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald:
"--On April 9 and 11, 1984, the Bulls gave up 265 points in consecutive games, but that included a 136-134 loss in double overtime at Washington, along with a 129-112 home loss to New Jersey.
--The most recent example with two 48-minute games was March 20 and 22, 1983. The Bulls lost at Seattle 128-116, then lost at home to Detroit 134-116 for a total of 262 points allowed.
--The worst two-game defense in this decade was 247 points. That was on March 28 and 29, 2003 with a 140-89 loss at Indiana (a result often blamed for the demise of general manager Jerry Krause a few days later) and a 107-92 home loss to Sacramento.
--The Bulls haven’t given up 250 points in consecutive games since Feb 1 and 3, 1990, a 139-112 loss at Houston and 112-111 loss at San Antonio."
It gets worse. This is the 1st time in 20 years the Bulls have given up 100 points in 8 consecutive games.
IT GETS WORSE. The Bulls' opponents are averaging 115 points in this 5 game skid.
This is the worst display of defense this league has seen in a long time. And Bulls fans are definitely not used to this. Typically, at least in the last 20 years, Bulls teams have prided themselves on good defense. They took pride in their defense because a lot of times, specifically in the last 11 years, there really wasn't much offense. But even the team that had the greatest offensive duo of all time also had the greatest defensive trio of all time...Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman. And what did Scott Skiles always always always stress? Defense. What is he stressing in Milwaukee, aka the 5th seed that now sits 3 games ahead of the Bulls? Defense. They play absolutely spot on defense and they just took down a defensive powerhouse tonight in the Celtics.
Look...I get it. Joakim Noah is injured. I know the man is missed. I know as well as anyone that if he was around, these unfortunate historic marks would not have been set. He makes that much of a difference. But come on. He's not Bill Russell. It's not as if you lose Joakim Noah, and all of a sudden you must be destined to give up 115 points a game. I know that's the reality of what's happened. But it doesn't have to be this way. It shouldn't be this way. You have to take a little pride in staying in front of your man, keeping a hand in his face, and shutting him down. The problem lies just as much in the fact that not only is Joakim's play missed, but his infectious energy and defensive influence on the rest of his teammates. When he's ont he court, he's on his teammates backs about staying in front of their man and playing phsyical and tough. He's got a little Kevin Garnett in him. You can argue whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. And I hate Garnett as much as any Bulls fan. I mean I loathe the guy. This little incident from tonight with him barking at Nate Robinson is a great example of why. But whether it's good or bad, you can't deny that it motivates his teammates, and that's a big part of why they win (maybe not tonight, unfortunately).
No way you can let a team score 132 points in 4 quarters in this league, ESPECIALLY after giving up 122 in the previous game, ESPECIALLY when you're despearte for a win and trying to snap a 4 game losing streat AT HOME. Inexcusable, regardless of Joakim Noah's injury. Utah's a good team and all, but 132 points good? I'm fairly certain the Bulls' D-League Affiliate, the Iowa Energy, could have come out tonight and held the Jazz to less points than that. Where's the heart?
That's not to take anything away from my boy and fellow Illini Deron Williams. 28 points on 11-15 shooting, with 17 assists. Holy stat-line. On top of that, he visciously posterized D-Rose on a durrrrrrty one handed dunk on a fast break. It's not as fun when Derrick is the one being posterized. My apologies to Goran Dragic.
But also, give Derrick Rose all the credit in the world. Up until late in the third quarter, this game was an all out duel between Derrick Rose and Deron Williams. Derrick finished the night with 25 points on 10-19 shooting and 13 assists of his own. He tried to put the Bulls on his back, but one man can only do so much. Especially when his so-called second option only really contributes for one half every game. Luol Deng scored 12 points in the first half. He finished with 14. A near identical night to Andrei Kirilenko, so those two essentially cancelled each other out. Deng came out in the third quarter with a "calf strain," whatever that means, so I can't totally blame him. But who are we kidding...he would have disappeared for the entire half either way.
Taj Gibson played the worst game of his career on a night where I figured he'd put up a decent fight due to the lack of defensive prowess in the Jazz frontcourt. Get ready for this stat-line. 0 points on no attempts, with 1 rebound, 3 turnovers, and he fouled out in 13 minutes of play. Trying not to laugh. Talk about a dose of reality. You know Taj is laying in his bed just staring at his celing tonight, because if he ever manages to fall asleep, he knows he'll be having nightmares of Carlos Boozer diving to the basket at 20 mph.
Not that Boozer had a spectacular game. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but he really didn't need to do more with Deron dominating the way he was. Kirk couldn't do a thing to slow him down, and don't get me started on Derrick Rose's defense. I still cannot comprehend why he can't play the same type of defense as D-Will: strong, quick and physical. He's just as capable. Is he just lazy on the defensive end? I don't get it. And I feel like I talk about this after every game. Frankly, it's getting pretty annoying.
And oh yeah, why does Boozer have to waste his time shooting when he can just kick it out to C.J. Miles for three. In 19 minutes, C.J. Miles scored 26 points, on 9-12 shooting, and 6-7 from three. 6-7 from three? I feel like C.J. Miles couldn't even hit 6-7 from 3 if he were wide open in practice. Hell...Ray Allen might not be able to hit 6-7 from three in practice. Yet, this guy is draining them from every spot on the court, wide-open, or hand in his face...didn't matter. Talk about efficient scoring. Does it get more efficient than that?
But here's the craziest part of this game. The Jazz shot 54.2% from the field, and the Bulls shot 53.9%. Up until garbage time, the Bulls were shooting at roughly 57% and were outshooting the Jazz. I'm still semi-confused as to how they were losing this game. I blame the disparity more than partially on free throws. The Bulls went 18-27 from the line, while the Jazz went a whopping 30-39. They shot nearly 40 FREE THROWS. Good lord. That's a lot of free points. And obviously, the Bulls got outrebounded 42-32. No surprise there. I don't even know how the rebound disparity was so small with Taj doing squat and Noah gone and Deng getting hurt. I guess it's because neither team missed that much?
Silver lining? Brad Miller shot extremely well going off for 20 points and was hitting the three-point shot with consistency, going 3-3. If we have any shot of making the playoffs, he needs to be able to do that every game. Also, Flip Murray had a pretty good bounce back game and was hitting the three a little bit.
But unfortunately, there really isn't any end in sight. The Bulls are now on the outside looking in and back under .500. They need some easy wins to get them out of this funk, and it ain't happening any time soon with Orlando, Miami, Memphis, Dallas, and Cleveland up next in that order. I see the Bulls POTENTIALLY winning only one of those games, and that's against the Heat. But with the defensive efforts they're putting up with Noah absent, it's just not likely. I mean it's epically bad. So I kid you not when I say that in 9 days, the Bulls could be on a 10 game losing streak and essentially eliminated from playoff contention. The schedule and the injuries might do them in, and it's a sad state of affairs for a team that had so much potential a month ago when everyone was healthy and things were clicking, just to have it all ripped away by the basketball g-ds. Now all we can do is pray for some upsets and stolen victories.
The Bulls face off against a very tough Utah Jazz squad tonight. It just so happens that the Jazz have won 21 of their last 26 games. Oh boy. They're a rougly .500 road team, so that could give you a little hope, but not a lot. Not against a depleted Bulls squad.
Yet, what I always say is that the NBA is all about matchups. I look at player matchups before I look at records. That's how I knew that the Clippers were going to beat the Bulls every single time (when they had Campby). The matchups against the Jazz aren't horrible. Derrick Rose and Deron Williams, the two best point guards in the NBA, are about as equal of a matchup as you can get. Deron is a more consistent shooter and likes to hit it from the arc. Derrick still can't hit that 3-point shot with any consistency. In fact, he doesn't even really take that shot at all. And they both love to take it to the hole due to the combination of their quickness and strength. Deron Williams is one of the only point guards in the NBA who can come close to matching Derrick's strength. But I do think Derrick is a more prolific scorer and is a little quicker than Deron. For the most part, these two will cancel each other out tonight production-wise. Deron obviously has the edge when it comes to assists, as he's averaging 10.3 assists per game, but I chalk that up to having people around him who can score...mainly Carlos Boozer. If Derrick had a scorer like that in the post, I can easily see his assist numbers being around 9 or 10 a game.
And believe me, Boozer will have himself a game tonight. The man is averaging 20 and 11. I expect him to exceed both of those tonight. While the Bulls did alright rebounding against a Mavericks team whose best rebounder is Jason Kidd, Boozer can be a beast on the glass. Taj Gibson is going to make him work a little bit, but that's about all. There isn't anyone on the Bulls roster right now who's going to keep Boozer off the boards for more than maybe a quarter. That's not to say that Gibson won't have himself a decent game as well. I definitely foresee a double-double tonight from Taj, mostly because the Jazz frontcourt isn't exactly a defensive powerhouse. The best shot-blocker on the team is Andrei Kirilenko, and Taj should definitely be able to shove him around a bit.
But let's not forget about Paul Millsap coming off the bench backing up Boozer. This guy is no slouch. He is an effective scorer and a strong rebounder, so Brad/Taj/Hakim (and I suppose Chris Richard) are going to have their work cut out for them pretty much all night, because when Boozer isn't out there, Millsap will be. That means that the Bulls bench is going to have to come out and produce tonight to match the Jazz's production. I'm looking at you Flip Murray and Hakim Warrick. Murray's been in a John Salmons-like slump lately...let's hope he breaks out of it tonight.
There are two other matchups worth watching...
Mehmet Okur vs. Brad Miller. Both are crafty veterans and can do work on the offensive side of the ball. As for defense, I give the edge to Brad Miller and his 10 inch vertical. Brad knows how to play physical and box out. While Mehmet uses his height to get around 7 boards a game, he doesn't really have a nose for the ball and I definitely think Brad is much more crafty around the glass. And both like to launch from the arc...but Brad's three point shooting is incredibly streaky. Some night's he's on fire, other night's it looks like he's shooting with his eyes closed. Tonight...it needs to be the former.
The other interesting matchup will be Luol Deng vs. Kirilenko. Deng is a big question mark. He probably had the worst game of his career on Saturday night. That's not an exaggeration. Only 6 points and 3 rebounds in 37 minutes. How is that even possible? On top of that, he didn't practice yesterday due to flu-like symptoms. So who knows if he's even available tonight. If not, I expect James Johnson to have about 12 turnovers tonight, because Kirilenko is very active on defense. If Deng plays, Kirilenko will have a tough time guarding him because Lu is a tough matchup due to his scoring ability and his length. But with the knee giving him problems lately and having the flu, who knows what his story will be tonight. I already can hear the Bulls masses beginning to question his testicular fortitude.
Other than that, I expect absolutely nothing from Kirk Hinrich...and you should too. He'll have a good shooting night once every 5 or 6 games, but what good is that. Anyway...he just used up one of his good shooting nights on Saturday in the loss to Dallas, so he's due to take the night off. Just go out there and don't let Deron take you to the hole...and stop turning your ankles twice a game.
Prediction: Bulls lose 98-90. While the matchups are alright, I give the edge to the Jazz mostly due to no one really being able to counter Boozer's production. Also, Deng being a question-mark doesn't help the Bulls' cause. If the Bulls do pull off the win, it'll be due to huge nights from Derrick Rose and Brad Miller. When you're relying on Brad Miller to pull out victories...you can't really hold your breath. This will be 5 losses in a row, and the Bulls will likely move into the 9th seed by night's end. Life without Joakim Noah continues...no comments
Okay...I've stopped staring at my new site long enough to actually focus on what's happening to the Bulls right now. I guess I've sort of been trying not to think about it. I mean if you think about it, it's fairly depressing. Just a month ago it looked the Bulls were walking on air after coming off of a 5 game road-winning streak against very tough Western Conference teams. The squad was really coming together. Derrick Rose was an All-Star, Luol Deng was playing consistent terrific ball, and Joakim Noah was becoming a force.
The D-Rose spectacular move seen above is the only good thing to come out of this weekend. The Bulls are now on a 4 game losing streak, mostly due to injuries and a very tough stretch in the schedule. Joakim Noah...gone...likely for the regular season. Luol Deng just went 2-8 for 6 points and 3 rebounds in 37 minutes in the loss to Dallas. Derrick Rose is still playing dominant basketball, but it isn't enough without the other pieces helping him out. Deng's numbers against the Mavericks are petrifying. It's tough to say whether that bruised knee is still bothering him, because he played just fine in the previous game, but then he delivered the worst performance of his career on Saturday. And it was on a night where the Bulls needed his offense more than ever.
I'm going to tell you right now...I'm shocked that the Bulls kept the game close against Dallas on a night where the Mavs shot 56.3% from the field. That, my friends, is the definition of a clinic. And it's not as if the Bulls defense was horrible. On the contrary. The Bulls did the best that they could, sans a few lapses that allowed Rodrigue Beaubois to have the game of his career. But they honestly did everything they could against Dirk, Caron, and company. What's even more amazing about the Mavericks shooting performance was they had absolutely no inside presence whatsoever. Brendan Haywood, who can be a force in the post against a team like the Bulls, was having back issues and had to sit out. Pretty much everything they got they got from jumpshooting. And every player on the Mavericks shot above 50% or higher except for Jason Kidd, who just missed and went 2-6. In fact, Kidd had 11 rebounds and 15 assists, but only 6 poin
ts on a night where the Mavs scored 122 of them.
See, the Mavs were smart. On a night where they didn't have Haywood's strong defensive presence in the post, they decided to implement the 2-3 zone defense to keep the Bulls out of the paint. It did the trick, but had little effect on the Bulls ability to score. The Bulls had a tremendous shooting night themselves, shooting 52.2% from the field. I'd have to go back a ways and check, but I believe that was a season high. And you can thank Derrick Rose for that. Derrick went 15-22 from the field for 34 points. The Mavs wanted to keep Derrick out of the paint and force him to shoot jumpshots, which they did, but he was just draining them all night. But in the end, it was just too much Dirk, Beaubois, and Caron. Again, Derrick has to do a better job of staying in front of opposing guards. Rodrigue Beaubois was doing whatever he wanted and he ended up with a career high of 24 points. Defense is still Derrick's downfall, and it's unfortunately starting to effect the outcome of games.
But the real reason why the Bulls lost was because of Dirk Nowitzki. He just took over in the 4th quarter. What he did is the definition of "taking over." He was unstoppable. He went 6-8 from the field and 3-4 from the line in the 4th quarter, and he continues to dominate the league in the 4th. And when you're playing up on a guy with a hand in his face and he's draining shots in your eye...not much you can do. It was just too much Dirk.
And now the Bulls are back at .500 after being 4 games over, and sit in the 8-seed only half a game up on Charlotte. And to think, just days ago, they were a half game out of the 5-seed and the Bucks were the 9-seed. A week later, the Bucks are the 5-seed, 2 games up on the Bulls, and the Bulls are facing the very real prospect of being knocked out of playoff position and maybe missing the playoffs due to a roughed up roster at a time where they're facing nothing but terrific teams. There's no relief any time soon. The next 6 games are against Utah at home, then Orlando, Miami, Memphis, and Dallas on the road, and then Cleveland back home. Are you kidding me? Honestly...I'm struggling to find a winnable game in there and am honestly praying this doesn't turn into a 10 game losing streak. That would honestly be a shame if that happened to a team that was really starting to put it all together before injuries made it all come to a crashing halt. I'm hopeful that the Bulls catch a few breaks and when a couple of those games here and there, but I'm not expecting any miracles.no comments
IS NOW ON
Well, well, well. Look what we have here. Some new digs. Your boy is movin' on up ladies and gentlemen. Da Bulls' Eye is now apart of the Bloguin Network.
I know, I know. I just went and revamped my site like a month ago. Ummm...compared to this...not really. I can pretty much stare at this new site all day. And the best part...it's all mine. I have total control over the content and style of this sick website. Plus, I'll be making a little side-cash doing something I love, which never hurt anybody. I really have to give crazy props to Derek Hanson and Dave Kelsey, 2 of the head honchos at Bloguin, for helping put together this ridiculously good looking website. And I definitely gotta thank Stephen Slesinski, the genius behind Bloguin's banners. He was able to take my old "logo" and my basic vision for the banner, and he turned it into a piece of art. As Sidney Deane would say...it's pretty, soooo pretty.
If you don't know about Bloguin, you should. It's the most content-rich, fastest growing sports blogging network on the internet. And that's the main reason why Da Bulls' Eye has decided to join up. It's hard to pass up on an opportunity to become a colleague of some of the greatest NBA blogs on the net, such as the guys from Bust-a-Bucket and Don from With Malice, as well as many many more. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to talk trash to some die-hard fans from the opposing teams. Because let's face it...beyond anything else, a sports blogger is a die-hard fan.
I'm really looking forward to writing aside and being surrounded by some truly knowledgeable individuals. Those of you who know me know I am an extremely competitive individual. Not that I need the motivation, but having such content-rich blogs on the network will continuously inspire me to bring you the highest quality content with reagrds to the organization we know and love unconditionally, the Chicago Bulls. Beyond that, I'm also looking forward to the opportunity to bring my content to a larger audience who have been looking for that Chicago Bulls blog with the right combination of passion, razor sharp analysis, and wit.
If you are looking for any of my old articles, they are all available in the Archives section of this site and are sorted by month. Feel free to register as a user on Bloguin and become a regular, and definitely go ahead and explore the new site as well as bloguin.com. There's a lot to see. Thanks.