Bulls at Lakers 9:30 on CSN - Taj officially questionable but unlikely to play

Of all the games on the circus trip, this is the one that looks like the sure loss.   The game where the Bulls would simply be overmatched, and Taj Gibson, after seeking medical advise, said it's a strong possibility he'd miss the game.

Without Boozer and Gibson, the Bulls will face a particularly difficult time matching up against the Lakers size.   The Lakers are missing Andrew Bynum, but Pau Gasol + Lamar Odom + Ron Artest is still a front court to be reckoned with and has a whole lot of strength on the Bulls grouping.  

How will the Bulls match up with that size, and how did we get this far without even mentioning that Kobe Bryant?

Keys to the game

Which guard dominates their perimeter matchup more?   Derrick Rose should eat Derrick Fisher alive, and while the Lakers have imposing size in their front court, you wouldn't really consider any of those guys premier help defenders on the inside.    Derrick needs to dominate the hell out of Fisher to give the Bulls a chance in this game.

More so than other games, he's also going to need to draw fouls, the best defense the Bulls have against Pau Gasol is to make him ride the pine, so Derrick needs to drive into contact tonight to help out our front court and get these guys in foul trouble.  

It's a tall order, especially in the Staples Center given that Rose isn't prone to get foul calls anyway, and the game is played in L.A. where home cooking tastes pretty good if you're a Lakers fan.

On the flipside of the coin, can the Bulls find a way to contain Kobe Bryant?    I'd normallysuggest going with Brewer (defends well) or Korver (to make Kobe expend energy on defense), but if Taj can't go then Bogans will need to play a lot, so you'll just need to change  your looks on Kobe and be ready to provide help.

Go big or go small just don't go Scalabrine.  Assuming Taj is out, the Bulls need to adjust the rotation.  I know that Thibs trusts Scalabrine, but this trust has not been backed up by quality play, quality minutes, or anything outside of the Bulls getting annihilated while he's on the floor.   I've grown to like Scal more than I thought I would because you can appreciate what a heady player he is on the floor.  

However, now that the preseason is over, and he's playing against experienced players, his lack of athleticism is completely exposed and the team is crushed when he plays.  While I'd rather live with James Johnson's mistakes than Scalabrine's athletic weaknesses at this point, but why live with either?

My rotation for the night:
PG: Rose 38, Watson 10
SG: Brewer 18, Bogans 23, Watson 7
SF:  Korver 30, Brewer 12, Deng 6
PF: Deng 30, Joakim 18
C: Joakim 18, Omer 30

Granted, the odds of Omer playing 30 minutes without fouling out aren't particularly high, but a man can dream.  If he can stay on the floor then the Omer/Joakim lineup gives you imposing size for a big lineup.

Then play Luol Deng at PF as part of a small lineup.   The key is to keep better players on the floor as much as possible.   If the Bulls do decide to bring in a bench player for more action, then my choice is James Johnson.  

Johnson has the athleticism and size combination to annoy Lamar Odom, and if he puts together a good game, as unlikely as that seems, then he can really help the Bulls whereas with Scalabrine and Thomas the hope is to simply not fall down by 10 points in the first three minutes they are on the floor.

Turn the game into a track meet.  The Lakers can get into these up and down games with teams at times and lose the fact that they can dominate anyone when they slow it down.   The Bulls are younger, smaller and faster, particularly if they play small ball, so keep the pace up and hope you can win in transition.  

The Bulls have the athleticism to play fast, but they haven't put it all together in the uptempo game yet.   However, the Bulls aren't beating the Lakers in the half court, so speeding up the game is the best option.

Dare Ron Artest to beat you.  Throw some trash talk his way, goad him about his lack of shooting ability, give him some space, do whatever you can to get him to start throwing up shots.   Ron Artest can get into modes where he's a complete shot chucker, and the Lakers play poorly when that happens.  If you can goad him into launching threes then one of three things happens.  

He'll make you pay by nailing a ton of threes on you, it's unlikely but could happen.   He'll play his way onto the bench which greatly weakens the Lakers size advantage, or Jackson will live with it, but you'll have forced L.A. away from better offensive options.

Don't lose the Phoenix game tonight.  There's going to be an incredible temptation to go with the starters very extended minutes tonight, because the bench will lack a lot of depth without Taj Gibson.    Don't fall in that trap.

You don't want to instill a losing attitude that losing is acceptable, but you also don't want to lose tomorrow because you played Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng 42 minutes each tonight.    The Bulls need to stick to their regular rest patterns, and if the game looks out of reach in the fourth then it's time to shut down the starters and start thinking about tomorrow.

The Bulls can beat the Lakers tonight if they have a quality shooting night and catch LA on an off night, but even if we ride our starters into the ground, we're more likely to lose.   Don't turn tonight's loss into a losing streak by wearing everyone down before tomorrow's game, especially with this being the first of four games in five nights.


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  • L.A. is on a championship pace with a 10ppg margin of victory last I checked. I don't know where there defense ranks in terms of defensive field goal percentage, all I know is in the games I watched their help team defense was outstanding.

    This to me is one of the few teams where even a great driver like Derrick will need to create contact/draw fouls in volume 7-8 FTA's to be effective(score 25 or more points). I'm not using playing the Lakers as an excuse to harp on D again about getting to the line. It's just how I see things going tonight.

    If Derrick can get some calls and draw some contact for his and the Bulls D comes to play this could be a good game, but only if Jo can score tonight with 15 or more and 13 or more boards. Asking a lot, but Jo and Derrick as the leaders of this team have shown they can give a lot in big games. If it's close in this game I personally play the starters all close to 40 minutes because the importance of these marquee games are huge. But that's just me.

    Also, I'm just thankful Taj's foot sounds like it wil be OK from the doctor's exam. That's very good news I just hope the pain doesn't linger. Anyway tonight to me is a no lose either we play well/compete or if not it's not expectyed anyway especially with Taj out. I just hope Derrick does score on these guys/plays well. And defensively he continues his solid, solid play.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    RW I agree with virtually all your points, but I'm having a hard time understanding what you mean by "the importance of these marquee games are huge". How is this game any more important than any other on the schedule? I guess the way I look at it is if anything the Phoenix game is more important since it is the more winnable game. Isn't it more important to get the games you're favored in than to try and pull an upset in a game you're likely to lose at the expense of the favored victory?

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    This is one of those logic vs. intangibles questions. Logically I save minutes unless it's a very tight score or we are ahead so we are well rested for the next game we have a much better chance of winning. Valid.

    But there's also if the game is close(within 7-9 points) after three quarters, and Derrick and Jo are playing great ball or near so, do you take away there chance at a huge experience in winning such as overcoming the champ Lakers on the road? And do you support your players in such a competitively magnified game such as this if it's close and they want to stay in after they have busted it for you with effort and committment to the team?

    Sometimes life and succeeding are about more then just numerical totals/victories. They are about confidence forging/life changing experiences. So you either buy into that or you don't.

    This isn't one of those clear cut someone's right and someone's wrong questions. It's really a matter of perspective and opinion. But I would be shocked if some chamionship winning coaches wouldn't say that a victory against the defending champ Lakers or within a hair of winning wasn't at some point a very critical 'next step' experience for their ballclub.

  • Really tough game for Thibs to manage the rotation, he's really going to have to judge the game state well and figure out when to rest guys for the next game and how hard to gun for the win. I really hope he starts the best players, we need Brewer out there on Kobe, and we need Deng at PF, because Scal isn't going to get it done. Also he really has to try to use Asik as much as possible in situations where he wont collect fouls as rapidly, which probably means when Gasol rests.

    I'm not sure I agree we should fall back to JJ though, if we're in the fallback plan it's because Asik is in foul trouble, throwing in another foul prone player like JJ just sets us up to give up the game at the line. Maybe Scal doing nothing is better, I don't know.

    I just hope if we are down in the 4th and Thibs decides to pull the starters he doesn't get the "but we might have won you can't ever give up" complaint.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Scalabrine, for all his basketball IQ, still makes some stupid fouls. It's pretty much a lose lose situation, at least JJ has the ability to have a breakout game if the stars align.

    At least they don't have Bynum healthy...

  • Keys to the game.

    min points in the paint, stay out of foul trouble. run and gun and give d rose the ball all the time.

  • The bulls need to make shots and rebound. If the bulls make shots they can get back on defense and the Scal/Odom matchup isn't nearly as bad as it would be in the open court. If the bulls control the boards and limit the lakers to one shot, nobody gets in a rhythm and it's a close game. But the lakers play very good defense, and it will be tough to keep the taller team off of the glass. So I don't see the bulls winning this one.

  • Doug, I completely agree with your comments about managing player minutes and conserving our starters for Phoenix which is a very winnable game. I am afraid Thibs won't do that, aren't you? Thibs has been riding Deng and Noah way too much to date. But we'll see. Without Taj and Boozer, I don't think Bulls have much hope of beating the Lakers.


    With Taj Gibson most likely out...


    ...this should be a great LEARNING EXPERIENCE for Omer Asik.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    He will probably foul out before he plays 10 minutes lol Were in LA remember....we wont get any calls

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Melo Update: Last night he had 39 points and SHOT 17-17 IN FREE THROWS.....that right there is why you want him...forces defenses to foul

    But anyways.....Its gonna be a hard game tonight...First of all, were in LA, which means we probably wont get any calls, an Kobe will get every call he wants. But we do have Thibs, a guy that has faced LA many times an we do have a hungry young team thats rested. LA has not played anybody pretty much this whole year....if we come out an take it to them....we will suprise some people.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Good analysis csharp and also the Bulls will have to play some tight D and try to hold their own with the Lakers big front line in rebounding in order to keep the score close cause if the score gets up into the high hundreds, the bulls chances at winning will be very slim. Lakers have too many weapons and you're right, Carmelo would be able to get to the line and get some of the Lakers perimeter defenders in foul trouble. Lets not try to bring Melo up tho cause most Bulls fans feel like the team is fine as is.

  • This just in...

    the Heat have released Stackhouse in order to sign Dampier.

  • You are right on Doug with your minutes and use of the players...we don't want to instill a losing attitude but need to pick out battles and not kill Rose!
    This is the time where having Melo would give us a good chance of going into tonight and winning!
    Just having Rose who is strong and doesn't fall over when someone breathes on him and thus doesn't get to the free throw line and nobody else being able to rely on...and Deng needing the play out of position if we don't go with starting Noah/Asik...doesn't give us good odds tonight!
    I can see us going 3-1 or at least 2-2 the rest of this trip and Boozer coming back hopefully without missing much and dominating from here on out...hopefully!
    We are on pace to have the best circus trip since the Jordan days!
    GO BULLS!!!!

  • Definitely agree about Taj. I really hope these rumors about the timetable for Boozer's return aren't legit, it seems all the talk about his slow recovery from injuries may have been the cold hard truth. Can't we just put his hand in a big pad like in the NFL? He could still make some sort of contribution...lol.

  • ding ding ding ding ding!!!!! You've hit the #1key to the game Doug, Rose needs to go hard into Gasol, forcing him into foul trouble, at which point you can play small with Deng at the 4, which would ease the burden of playing without Taj. When Pau is out there, they need to play a lot of Asik. The Lakers is who I had in mind when the Bulls signed Asik and he seemed like the perfect guy to play in a twin tower lineup with Noah


    Taj Gibson has been cleared to play vs. the Lakers.


  • Maybe we can pull a knicks 3pt shooting night???lol

  • "When the game time comes, everything just changes," Gibson said. "I'm looking forward to trying to play. I think I should be able to.

    "I'm feeling a lot better." ESPN

    Helps our chances a lot if he is able to go. Hope he isnt risking too much long term tho in order to play tonight.

  • With how conservative doctors & training staffs are, and factoring in Taj's heart, I think Taj will be willing to play good minutes, 20-25 I'd guess

  • Ok, I'm calling it again, Bulls win

  • No reason to rush Taj back. Give him a couple days. Its november.

  • In reply to Dmband:

    Team doctors pretty much said there is no risk of serious injury, that its just a matter of playing through pain, so if he wants to go, let him

  • Yea I don't know why Sam Smith feels the need to rain on my parade.. but hey at least the Bulls have shown they can compete at a reasonably high level without him, now without him or Taj? Thats pushing it.

  • I'd assume that if they are letting him play its not an injury with a high risk for it getting worse from playing.

  • I think we just got to limit mistakes, put a hand in Kobe's face, rotate well on defense to prevent breakdowns, shot with confidence & without hesitation (this means you Gibson & Noah), limit the fouls....all the little things, then hope for a big game from Rose & Noah. We can't really afford for anyone to have a terrible game, but at the same time we don't need an incredible shooting night like the Knicks had against us.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Everyone talks about LA like they are unbeatable. In the playoffs this year, they might be, but now? Without Bynum? They are very beatable. They have 3 L's on the year, and only 3 quality wins. We are on 3 days rest, with Thibs having 3 days to game plan & implement strategy in practice.

    I like our chances, but no doubt we have to be on the top of our game.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    my mistake, 2 losses on the year, but 1 coming at home

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Time to stuff the ballot boxes Chicago fans, we need to vote as many Bulls in as possible. The recognition would help.


    Sign up is easy

    Vote early & vote often!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Cbooze on Nbatv says he expect to be back early december. says has range of motion back and swelling is almost and pain almost gone

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I was starting to think he would be out longer than expected since the bulls seem to be very quiet about it. C booz also saids he started shooting with the protective gear on hand.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Rose FINALLY gets a star call

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Rose is getting to the line! I hope he keeps this up!! GO BULLS!!!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Rose needs to tighten up his passes fast

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Why is Taj shooting 3s??

  • In reply to rustumt:

    Actually, he practices them every day now, had talked before the Dallas game about shooting some during a game. He works on them, so I got now problem with a heat check shot.

    The most important thing is IT SIGNALS THAT HE IS SHOOTING WITH CONFIDENCE, so that is both a very good sign, and maybe he can develope his game in the future to where he can be both a stretch 4, & a guy who can score down low, in addition to his defense & rebounding.

    I've got absolutely no problem with it. Late in the game, he would not take that shot.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I love how much upside Taj appears to have now. Coming out of the draft, & even in his rookie year, the knock on him was he was almost as good as he was going to get. I never understood that criticism, its just a lazy assesment made only because he was a little older than most rookies. He is such a quality, humble, hard working young player, I love watching him play & develop

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Blatant pushoff by Kobe on Bogans. That was an offensive foul!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    0-8 to open the 3rd, but Bulls nipped that 3rd quarter lull in the bud, and actually won the 3rd quarter by 1 point. We are watching this Bulls team grow and mature before our eyes.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I'm not knocking on Korver here, but did anyone else notice when they were showing Shannon Brown's 3pt barrage in the first half, they all had Korver running at him half a second late??

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Free throw and 3-point shooting killed us on both ends of the floor. If Korver is going 0-5 on 3-pointers, he's not much good to us.

  • In reply to ChiRy:


    - Luol Deng, one of the Bulls' captains, had 0 points in the 2nd Half.

    - Derrick Rose, another one of the Bulls' captains, had just 3 point in the 4th.

    - The Shooting Guard play for this team just SUCKS.

    Any Bulls' fan, mainly Doug Thonus and his clueless band of followers, who don't want the Bulls to acquire Melo or trade James Johnson for a Shooting Guard are completely CRAZY!!!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Happy iam with you...not much on melo because I don't know if it will happen but we need a scoring wing player bad real bad

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Well, I was wrong on my prediction, but it sure feels like they gave this one away. They played extremely hard, but just too many mistakes. Barnes, Brown, & Blake, the killer B's go 9-18 from 3, gotta defend the 3 better. I was having flashbacks from the New York game. And free throws! My God! Make a free throw Bulls! Turnovers, not scoring off the Lakers turnovers, and a terrible shooting night by Korver. If he is on this game, despite all those other mistakes, we win. The Lakers got a little home cookin,m but this one was there for the taking. Still, I like the fight we showed, & when Rose & Noah play up to their potential, we will always have a shot. The difference tonight though was the bench & supporting players.

  • A high profile game like this (NBA TV's fan night game of the week) against the Lakers, I would like to see Rose get a tech. Just lay into one of those refs early, after they do one of their no calls on a Rose drive. A tech from Rose himself or Thibs even could be a good investment. Gotta keep the foul calls even in this one.

  • He's choreographing his passes, passing in the air, and not putting enough mustard on his passes too. But, at least he's fighting for calls he deserves and getting them.

    Upon further review, based on what Watson is being paid he hasn't been a horrible value. And he hasn't played sub-par D. But, I don't like how he takes shots so early in the shot clock, isn't a great passer or dribbler and can take up a lot of shot attempts on off nights. But, for 3 mil per, it could be worse.

  • I figured... But it's not like he went 5-5, he went 1-1!!! Lol..

  • Shannon Brown is one example of developing an unpolished diamond SG as I was talking about earlier. Of course he just played the half of his life, but his FG and 3pt percentages are both over 50% for the year.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Bulls could have kept or reattained him twice. He sure would look good at the 2. Gotta give props to him too for being the rare athlete who developes his game further & doesn't just rely on freak athleticism a la a Tyrus Thomas player, which has been the norm.

  • TOs are definately killing us, also not capitalizing & scoring off the Lakers turnovers is equally as detrimental.

    Have to keep someone in Shannon's grill

  • Bulls building another 3rd quarter lead for the other team with poor shooting and turnovers.

  • plays with his head down way too much, & I'm sure that is discouraging to the other players on the court as well

  • The big positive to take out of this game however, Derrick Rose finally getting some star treatment. Love when he gets to the line.

  • Deng=F bogan=F- watson=F kover=F

  • In reply to jaymccray:

    Watson, Bogans & Korver definately flunked the Lakers corse, but I'd give Deng a C-. He was on in the first half, not so much in the 2nd, but still played aggressive & took the ball to the rack when he was out there

  • Did you notice the craftiness too? Rose is starting to use his off hand to push off a little. This is so briliant, b/c although illegal, the refs are not going to call it for the same reasons they don't call fouls on the defender...because he's too fast! They don't see it, its a blur just like when he gets hacked, but it also makes it look like he's getting a little more contact from the defender. I noticed Rose doing that at least 3 times, mostly against Gasol, got away with it every time, and I truly believe he is doing it with purpose.

  • Dengs only had two good games this season smfh

  • In reply to jaymccray:

    I wouldn't say only two good games, he'd played OK to start the season but he's really slumping on this road trip, 21-61 from the field, 3-16 from three, 10-16 from the line.

    We really need him to start hitting some shots.

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