The Bulls headed into Saturday's home contest against the New Orleans Hornets looking like they shouldn't have much trouble winning their third consecutive game to kick off the season.
The Hornets were without their best player, Eric Gordon, who will miss at least another month with a bad knee. And the #1 overall pick in last summer's draft, Anthony Davis, didn't make the trip after suffering a concussion last night. He took an inadvertent elbow from teammate and fellow rookie Austin Rivers in last night's game vs the Utah Jazz.
But the Bulls couldn't take advantage of the short-handed Hornets, suffering an abysmal 89-82 loss and falling to 2-1 on the young season.
If you want to know how the Bulls lost this game, it's real simple:
Hamilton 2/10 FG
Boozer 1/8 FG
Hinrich 1/8 FG
Noah 4/12 FG
Deng 6/15 FG
When your starting lineup combines to shoot 26.4% from the field, you're not going to beat the Washington Generals, let alone an NBA team, even one missing its two best players.
The Bulls shot 34.8% with 8 turnovers in the first quarter, but despite trailing by as many as 10 points they were behind only 21-18 after the first 12 minutes.
But they played much better in the 2nd quarter, finally grabbing their first lead on a Belinelli 3-pointer. They pushed their lead to 44-37 on a Noah FT with 1:45 to play until halftime, and it looked like they had finally righted the ship and were on their way to a 3-0 start.
But the Bulls didn't score again, while New Orleans saw Greivis Vazquez hit a pair of 3's in the final 30 seconds to put the Hornets ahead 46-44 at halftime.
The Bulls should have just stayed in the locker room, because they didn't show up on the court the entire second half.
The Hornets shot 46.9% from the field after halftime, the Bulls 26.1%. They outrebounded the Bulls 24-16 after halftime.
It's not like the Hornets were playing lock-down defense in the final 24 minutes- yes they blocked 6 of the Bulls' 46 field goal attempts, but the Bulls only committed two turnovers in the half. They just couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their shots, with the starters going 6/26 in the half.
Deng and Gibson were the only Bulls who had even a half-way decent stat line- Deng finished with 19 points (6/15 FG), 8 rebounds and 4 assists, while Gibson had 12 points (4/7 FG, 4/4 FT), 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in 21:12 of playing time.
Noah had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, but he shot 4/12 from the field and fouled out late in the game. Marco Belinelli had 13 points, but none in the 2nd half. Nate Robinson had 15 points, but on lousy shooting (6/16 FG, 1/5 on 3's).
Vasquez led New Orleans with 18 points (6/18 FG) and 6 assists, and Ryan Anderson struggled to finish with 12 points (5/13 FG, 1/7 on 3's), but he did grab a game-high 13 rebounds.
But it was Robin Lopez and Jason Smith who destroyed the Bulls inside and who were the real difference in the game- Lopez had 16 points (7/10 FG) and 4 blocks, and Smith came off the bench to score 16 (4/5 FG, 8/8 FT) with two blocks in 15:27 on the court.
Hopefully two days off will help the Bulls find their shooting strokes as their next game is Tuesday at the UC agains the very beatable Orlando Magic.