Bulls fortunate to be playing the Wizards, escape with win

If the Bulls were playing a quality opponent, or even a bad opponent on an average night, they would have lost this game.   They came out flat in the final quarter, scoring just just two points over nine and a half minutes from the 10 minute mark to the 35 second mark.   However, the Wizards were unable to capitalize and only scored seven points over the same stretch.

The early portions of the game were high lighted by the Bulls sloppy, lazy passing and Nick Young and Kurt Hinrich (had to, it's tradition), burying shots.  However, both players came up empty in the fourth quarter when it mattered for the Wizards.

Carlos Boozer shows you the good and the bad

Maybe we're spoiled by Taj and Noah playing defense, but watching Boozer on defense in this game really made me want to vomit.  He was so atrocious, and yet the Wizards were just completely incapable of taking advantage.  There were numerous plays where he just let guys go from 3-4 feet a way and got position to get a board rather than attempting to contest the shot.

Contrast that with what Boozer gave on offense and it was a fairly impressive display.   Boozer carried the Bulls in the first quarter, carried the second team in the second quarter, was key in building the lead in the third, and he hit the shot that really put the game out of reach in the fourth as well.  

Boozer's deficiencies defensively were hard on the eyes, but ultimately had little impact on the game.  Guys simply didn't hit shots tha the gave them, his offense swung the game in favor of the Bulls though, and if it weren't for a couple really dicey offensive foul calls against him, his night would have been much bigger. 

It was a truly great performance by Boozer offensively, but the defense is worth mentioning, because it will be a much bigger factor against other teams.

Derrick Rose seemed to play worse than the box score for once

He had four turnovers, but some of them were so bad it felt like more.  He couldn't score down the stretch and Kirk Hinrich did a great job locking him up.   It felt like he played much worse, but at the end of the day he still had 25 points on 21 shots, so it obviously wasn't that bad.

Half of Rose's 12 misses came from the three point line and two of those were on half court heaves, so the numbers weren't quite as bad as they look from an efficiency stand point and neither was his three point shooting.

Luol Deng started with a bang and finished with a whimper

Not all that unusual for Deng, but he knocked down a couple threes early then did very little the rest of the game.  He was 1 for 4 in the second half until he had a wide open lay in with 22 seconds left as the Wizards let the game fall away from them.

Why does Keith Bogans still play? 

Like the number of licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop, the world may never know.

Kurt Thomas played really well again

It's game where you need to ignore the numbers, Thomas came up big defensively challenging shots, rotating well, and playing really heady ball.  Given his lack of speed and quickness, Thomas does an excellent job of help defense and used his toughness to really help the Bulls again.

The Bulls really broke open the game when Thomas got away with a foul on Rashard Lewis to give the Bulls an offensive board, then Lewis got caught on the revenge foul and received a tech for complaining.   The bulls ended up with three points on the possession (though the refs made about five straight fairly ridiculous calls against the Bulls in order to make up for this play).

Either way, Thomas is playing at a pretty high level defensively.

Ronnie Brewer played some great defense

He absolutely made Nick Young's life miserable at the end of this game and had a clean strip on Hinrich to give the Bulls the ball back in the defensive possession that, combined with Boozer's score, put the nail in the coffin.

Brewer also did a nice job contributing on the defensive glass which was a big help because of the lack of mobility the Bulls had at times with Thomas/Boozer playing next to each other.

Kyle Korver disappeared again

Another complete brickfest from Korver, what's somewhat disconcerting over the past three games is that Korver was dreadful in the two close games and solid in the complete blowout.   Still, shooters have those kinds of nights sometimes, he just needs to keep at it.

I will say that Korver did a fairly solid job defensively.  Josh Howard did get the best of him a couple times, but Korver held his own in isolation as well.   The overall effort of isolating on Korver was more disruptive to the Wizards offense than helpful for them.

C.J. Watson was the anti-Boozer

His offense was mostly dreadful, he had a couple terrible turnovers, and missed a wide open shot on an outstanding Boozer pass, but he really put a lot of effort into his defense and did a great job especially in the fourth quarter. The Bulls still need a bit more than that, but it's nice to see him still contributing on the defensive end.

Taj Gibson didn't play, but that's a good thing

He said he was going to play and wanted to play yesterday as well, but the Bulls held him out, and with a concussion, safety first.  It's the type of injury that can really affect the rest of your life, so I'm good with the cautious approach and not just letting the players run themselves out there whenever they want to go.

Omer Asik has fallen behind Thomas in the rotation

It will be interesting to see if this continues just while Noah/Gibson are out or if Thomas begins to play over Asik even when the pair are healthy.  He only played a few minutes, but had a couple blocks, some boards, and knocked down his two free throws on the night.

Final thoughts

The Bulls played excellent defense in the second half after giving the Wizards way too many wide open looks in the first half.  Andre Blatche really shot the Wizards out of this game by just jacking up a bunch of contested jumpers while Nick Young scored 20 in the first half but only two in the second,

It wasn't a pretty win, the Bulls offense looked really ugly and stagnant for large portions of the game, the initial energy was very poor defensively, and the team failed to ever build up much of a lead, but at the end of the day, they escaped with a win, so I'll take it.

Comments

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  • I loved the way Thomas roughed up the Wizards, good to have a guy who throws people to the ground chasing rebounds even if he did ultimately foul out because of it. He might be some use to the team even when fully healthy if he's someone we can put out there for a few minutes to mix it up and get physical.

    On the road, playing a back to back, missing two key players, play badly and still win. First Bulls team in ages that can afford to play sloppy and still win games.

  • I really don't know what you can do about Boozer defensively either, I mean he played for Sloan for 6 years so it's not like he hasn't been coached, if he could be taught to play defense he already would. I thought Thibs could perhaps cover it up with some sort of scheme that would allow the other big to help him out more but right now with Noah and Gibson out and Thomas playing next to him what scheme could possibly be used.

    Oh well when the guy is shooting 60% and dominating offensively like he has been it's a lot easier to live with.

  • OUCH:

    2 of 16 from behind the arc for the Bulls...BLAH!!!

  • Just pencil Booz in for bad defense every game. They didn't bring him in for his defense, anyway. His poor defense is more glaring without Noah or Taj in there to help shore up the front line D. As long as keeps crashing the boards and scoring, the Bulls will be OK. I'm pretty sure this relatively soft schedule during Noah's recovery played a huge part in their decision to schedule his surgery when they did.

  • (FAIR) TRADE IDEA:

    How about this?

    To Bulls: Nick Young (scorer) and Demare Carroll (defender)
    To Wizards: Sam Young (Washington D.C. native) and Keith Bogans (exp. contract)
    To Grizzlies: James Johnson (Could get more mins. backing up Rudy Gay)

    That could work out for each team.

  • Mitchell,

    One, he's a free-agent to be and the Wizards are BAD, so they may want to rebuild and/or cut salary.

    That trade actually makes sense for each team involved.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Why are you trying to trade trash players for trash players.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    The Bulls get a lot of good compliments from outside reporters and observers on how good of a team they are but they are not an elite team. With their play in tonights game shows everyone why they are not quite there yet. Yes a better quality team would have beaten them tonight but in my opinion it all goes back to this teams lack of focus in certain games cause they should have had a easier time with the Wizards. I still say they will make some kind of trade cause I can't understand as to why Bogans is still starting, it has to be something behind Bogans starting every game at the shooting guard spot and failing miserably... VERY STRANGE...

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I agree the Bulls aren't elite, they're on the rung below the two power houses of the East, the Celtics and the Heat. But the Heat recently only managed to escape with a 1 point win against the Wizards because the Wizards absolutely choked down the stretch and gifted them the game, while the Celtics really struggled to overcome the team we just blew out by 45 points. Point is that no team, no matter how elite, plays well every game. They'll have games where they win because they have great players, not because everyone puts it together.

    As far as becoming elite, no trade that's available is going to make that happen. The SGs available, while obviously better than Bogans, aren't going to put the team over the top. The way the Bulls become elite is if Rose continues to improve. He's only 22, if he continues to improve as he has so far then the Bulls could be elite next year without major roster changes.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Every single team in the NBA has tons of games like this, including the very best teams. Basketball is such a hot/cold sport, any team can go cold on any given night. Just look at the Lakers losing at home to the Bucks, look at Miami getting smoked at home by the Pacers. You cannot and will not beat every team you should beat, just as you wont lose every game you should lose. Look, one night after we dismantled the 76ers, the Celtics beat them by a mere four points. This is how the NBA is.

    All that said I wouldn't call the Bulls an elite team, but I would argue, once we are healthy, we have a shot to beat anyone. I'd also argue we are probably the 6th best team in the entire NBA.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Why don't you go onto a Wizards blog and suggest the trade and see what they think? Since it makes sense for all teams involved I'm sure they'll be very receptive to your ideas!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Some people post the same stuff over and over no matter the topic...is it necessary to say every single day the bulls need to make a trade....please tell me who are we gonna trade for? Please say Melo so I can laugh uncontrollably for the next few minutes

  • In reply to MrSwAgG:

    Amen

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    If he's a free agent to be then they don't receive any extra savings by dealing him.

  • MELO'S TRAGEDY:

    http://twitter.com/KDthunderup/status/17796559970246656

    His sister died today.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Condolences to Carmelo Anthony

    Yes, his sister died. Her name was Michelle and she left 4 children in her passing.

    This reminds us that these young athletes are men with families, concerns, and the same sadnesses we all experience.

    My condolences to Carmelo Anthony and his family.

  • llllllllmmmmmmmaaaaaaaooooooooo

  • In reply to MrSwAgG:

    MELO: (><")

  • Pardon my caps, but that makes SEVEN of our LAST NINE opponents held to their season low in points! That's quite a streak, even with Noah and Gibson out for some games. Bravo Thibs's team, reliably tough in the fourth quarter!

    How about that airball three from Nick Young with the game on the line! I had to giggle... he had it going on at first, but tired, just like every shooter on both teams. Tough night to play (or officiate) a basketball game!

  • In reply to petert23:

    Bulls D hasn't been quite as I'd have anticipated, with Boozer then Noah out they're not dominating the boards to the extent it looked like they would but they're really good at just making opponents miss shots. And unlike with the Skiles teams that did well at that they're not holding down the opponent FG% by hacking guys either.

    Most of all it feels like Thibs contribution is wat Noah said, "it's going to get ugly out there". They've often forced the game to get ugly, and as much as we complain about that it seems to play into the Bulls hands. The Knicks game will be a real test of that, last time it turned into a shoot out, can the Bulls make it ugly this time?

  • In reply to petert23:

    This may seem off topic, but it's bugging me, and bear with me, it's about the Bulls eventually.

    I've been thinking about Washington's team, mostly the player the Bulls MUST have Nick Young, our old favourite Kurt Hinrich, and their departed once was superstar Arenas.

    Why is it there are so many guys like them in the NBA, guys who can be "good" players when you let them have the ball but really if you want to be a top team you don't want to let them have the ball? I mean Young is a black hole, Hinrich fails utterly as a SG and needs to play PG yet isn't a great passer, Arenas still thinks he's got it but he don't.

    Every team seems to have plenty of these guys, players who have to get given the ball to be effective. Yet there's only maybe a couple dozen guys in the NBA who you can actually give the ball to as much as they want it and have good things happen. Is it just because GMs realise they can't get the top guys and figure making do with the rest who kind of resemble top guys in style but not substance is close enough? Is it because anyone with an once of talent gets turned into a "star" in college and is taught they should be using half the teams possessions when they're on the floor?

    I mean this has everything to do with the Bulls, they are lucky enough to HAVE two guys who are actually good enough, Rose and Boozer. In looking for a shooting guard why do people want one of the not good enough guys like Young or Mayo? These guys just take shots away from the good players rather than play with them and help them.

    I mean why is it so hard to find guys who will play defense, try hard, hit open shots when called on and not demand the ball? Are the Knicks on to something when they plucked a guy like Fields from obscurity? Do you have to look beyond the hyped names in the draft to find a guy with that skill set? Because drafting wanna-be stars and trying to turn them into role players sure as hell doesn't seem to work out too well for many players.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Nice nice post, I was thinking along the same line last night watching Nick Young. It really bothers me that the kid could put in even half decent effort to alter his game to another level. The messed up thing is, HED MAKE MILLIONS MORE FOR THE EFFORT! Thats what bothers me even more, guys wont even do the small things that would make them much more valuable, as well as elongate their career.

    Quite the conundrum

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Pretty much what Doug said, I'm not trying to say Nick Young should do it all, because if he was capable of doing it all he'd already be a superstar.

    I was more wondering why the system seems to be able to produce a ton of guys who play big roles without big impact, but can't seem to produce guys who play the minor roles well. Although I suspect the incentives are wrong, since high usage guys get paid even if they're not that effective.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I see. I don't really buy the idea that guys are ineffective without the ball because its impossible for them. I agree that players come into the league wired the wrong way, but I can't understand a player not doing everything he can to become a great team player. That's how you make your money if you aren't an all-star, guys like Kurt Thomas have long careers because teams will find a place for them due to their usefulness, its in the players best financial interest to commit to becoming an off the ball player, a supporting role player if you will. Guys like Nick Young don't last long in the league, and I just can't agree that it's because he can't figure out, and I wish more players saw that their future depends on finding their niche. But hey who knows maybe Nick Young becomes the type of player that is worth letting dominate the ball, which is the biggest payoff of all. But going that route is high risk high reward. We'll see how long Nick Young can last, my bet is if he commits to defense and learns to be a utility for his team, he'll make a hell of a lot more money and play a hell of a lot more years. But thats on him.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Dang Mr. Happy that guy you have been talking about Nick Young is very good actually! But with the Wizards and Magic working a spell up together and them getting rid of Arenas I see Nick starting alongside John Wall and Capt Kirk backing either of them up now!
    The Wizards have a very young team and Kirk gives them the leadership they need! Glad we won last night the 4th quarter was a lil scary with both teams not scoring! :-)

  • Yeah it's a shame Noah got injured right before Boozer came back so we didn't even really get to see how good they might be together later. Also the one hand thing helps put the Orlando zero rebound game in perspective, trying to hold off Howard and rebound with one hand must suck.

  • Some of you guys along with Doug sometime don't understand what I comment on about the Bulls. First off I said they would hover around the .500 mark if they did not play better, this is when they would let just about every team that they had played build up a big double digit lead and they would have to expend so much energy trying to get back into the game. I also said that their focus needs to get better and that hasn't changed that much cause they still have let downs as a team defensively. And as far as a trade that would make them an elite team, that won't happen anytime soon because there is no trade out there that would make them elite not unless they somehow managed to get Melo while keeping Noah. They definitely need to upgrade the shooting guard position and Doug you say you understand why Bogans is still starting but IMO that's B.S. cause this guy has been terrible at best cause he can't score when needed and he barely plays effective defense. Doug you have a double standard when it comes to Bogans cause one minute you can't understand why he's still starting, then you say you understand why he is starting. Bogans should have his ass on the bench with Brewer or at least Watson starting. Hell... I would even start Korver over Bogans, so again you saying you understand is a bunch of bull. I understand you guys wanting to defend the Bulls cause I want to as well but this team still needs to be improved and all I'm doing is stating the obvious. The Bulls are a good team that is still a work in progress and I want them to get better and I all I want them to do is to make the right moves to continue to improve the team and a good start at doing that is to either make an adjustment at the 2 position (BOGANS ASS TO THE BENCH), or try to make a move to bring in a shooting guard, will that happen this year, is yet to be seen but can be done.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I think I speak for Doug when I say that he doesn't agree one bit with Bogans starting, he just understands Thibs train of thought in doing so. You don't have to agree with someone in order to understand why they are doing something.

    You talk about defensive letdowns yet the Bulls have held 5 of their last 8 opponents to season lows, that is an incredible stat. I don't think you are watching much NBA if you think even the best teams don't have major letdowns on D, in fact the best teams may have more letdowns than others because they have trouble getting up for games against poor teams.

  • Interesting thoughts, it reminds me of an analysis of Skiles offense (might have even been by you, I can't remember) that talked about how one of the guard's role in a particular play was to stand in the corner purely for spacing, and that was being run every time down the floor, and you could see Kirk's shoulders slump lower and lower every trip because he knew he wasn't getting the ball unless the play fell apart. It's that human element that I guess only the coach really knows why things are the way they are and we can only read body language clues, like how we had to let Ben Wallace shoot the ball occasionally or else he gets grumpy and stops trying on defense.

    I guess it kind of fits in with what Cuban said about his experience with the Mavs and trying to put teams together with advanced stats but the stats never really could account for chemistry that's so important in basketball.

    Of course that just makes me wonder if we'll ever see a role player suitability metric. You'd think there has to be a better way than scouts just guessing, even if it's an aptitude test or something.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Nice post Shakes!
    Yeah there is definately a synergistic effect with some player combinations eventhough 1 player doesn't show up in the box score doesn't mean he is invisible to the team!
    Kirk there and Ben Gordon gone really helped Rose develop. Bogans is stable and starts the game while Brewer can be like Tyrus Thomas and JJ and is loaded with potential and athletism but is like a crazy lil puppy and needs to settle down. :-)

  • So true how players, especially young ones can improve 1 or 2 things about their game and make a impact! Look at Rose and Deng's 3 point shooting this year which is a very nice surprise! :-)
    I see JJ with playing time being very good, but we said the same about TT but he could never put it together and Gibson was the steady although not as bright PF so we dealt TT to the Bobcats.

  • Here's my wish list of SGs (irrespective of availability) that I think would fit with DRose, Booz, and Jo the best

    1. Ray Allen (2yrs $20m)
    2. Arron Afflalo (RFA)
    3. Anthony Parker (UFA)
    4. Courtney Lee (RFA)
    5. James Harden (2yrs $9m)
    6. JJ Reddick (3yrs $19m)

    Other than RayRay I think all of the other 4 are attainable (either trade before 02/24 or in free agency in the summer) and would fit the Bulls system the best. They are all good (40%+) 3 pt shooters and also have a good defensive reputation.

    Who knows maybe we could trade assets to get both Melo and Afflalo? (I know its dreaming but its that time of year to ask Santa for some presents lol)

    A starting 5 of

    DRose
    Afflalo
    Melo
    Booz
    JoNo

    That def would be elite!!

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Yes I'd take our chances with that 5 as well!
    Have to upgrade the bench too though with a few more big guys and more tools in our shed like the Celtics and Lakers have though! :-)
    ...but on the right track! :-)

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Lets just hope the MLE remains in place as the new CBA comes out, if not trading for a SG will be the only option.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Afflalo and Lawson are the only two guys on the Nuggets roster I think they'd want to keep if Melo is leaving. I really can't see how the Bulls would get Afflalo, if we offered him the MLE that doesn't seem like enough to stop the Nuggets matching.

  • Ya i would of been pissed too lol He clearly fouled Lewis lol

  • I see Young being apart of their future. Especailly since they just traded Gilbert away...Young is filling in for them nicely. I dont see him going anywhere.

  • +2 i agree

  • True, its just the small things like at the end of regulation his coach had to berate him in order to get him to cover up a guy on the Bulls in-bound pass. I can accept guys that aren't good on D, as long as their deficiency isn't due to laziness. DRose for instance began as a terrible defender, and has gotten to about average, but all along the way he never seemed lazy or disinterested. But I'll submit I didn't know much about Young before this year so I'll have to give him the benefit of the doubt until I'm more familiar.

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