Lethargic Bulls beat Cavs behind Rose's monster performance

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It's a sign of the rising expectations, a sign of what we hope this Bulls team can accomplish this season.   The Bulls went into Cleveland, came out with a victory, but no one is likely too happy about it.   Tom Thibodeau will enter the Lakers game with less hair, and a Scott Skiles vein in his forehead can't be far behind.  Derrick rose (who actually did not play terrible) said it best:

"I can't eat right now the way we played," Derrick Rose
said. "My stomach is messed up. Just the thought of losing that game
hurts. No way we can accept that. We played terrible. We're thankful to
win."

The Bulls played a terrible brand of basketball offensively, couldn't hit their free throws, and threw the ball all over the court in such a fashion that the 16 turnovers doesn't give justice to how bad it was at times. 

However, in the end, we have Derrick Rose, and they no longer have LeBron James.

Derrick Rose is good enough to win you games you shouldn't win.   Like this one.

He went into "I won't let my team lose" mode at the end of the game, scoring seven points in the final 2:13 of the game, and because we had Derrick Rose, I never felt the game was in doubt even when close down the stretch.  

He's so good that the assumption is that he will bail out the team when we need him, and he's done it in spectacular fashion in two of the past three games (with the OKC game not requiring his heroics).   

On top of his spectacular drive late in the game, where he was literally fouled by three separate defenders on the way to the hoop prior to finishing a three point play, Rose quietly shot 4 of 6 from behind the arc.   His three point percentage is up to 37.9% on the season now which is now improving beyond capable and into "good".  

Granted, Rose is still largely taking easy three point looks, but the thought of Rose's percentage climbing up to 40% has to scare the pants off of teams game planning to stop him.

Carlos Boozer isn't going to do it every night

You ever notice how people always refer to Boozer as a 20/10 guy, but he's actually only averaged 20/10 or better twice in his career and it was 3 and 4 seasons ago?   Boozer's season is sprinkled with games like this where, for whatever reason, he simply doesn't have it going on.

Thibodeau benched Boozer for the fourth quarter, likely for not playing with enough energy, and the Bulls went on their run.   The Bulls struggled to get quality looks for Boozer in the game, and played much worse defensively while he was on the floor.

Besides the injuries, this is why the team won't trade Taj Gibson anytime soon.  You need insurance for when Boozer's not getting it done offensively and isn't good enough defensively to leave in the game.

Joakim Noah had a quality game after a few mediocre games

Noah did a great job on the boards where he's struggled a bit recently, pulling down 14 rebounds agains Anderson Verajao.   In a moment which I hope Thibodeau goes over in film study with Derrick Rose, Noah drove against Verajao repeatedly in the fourth.

He appeared to be fouled on consecutive plays without getting the call, and after the second one, he sat back and laid into the ref.    The next play, the Bulls went to Noah who drove again, and this time, with probably the least contact of all three drives, he got the foul call and finished with an and1.  

The Bulls are getting notably chippier with the refs.   I hate it and love it.  I hate that it's necessary, but love that they're doing it because it is necessary.   I love Stern's concept of stopping players jawing at the refs, but the execution is terrible.   Beyond not jawing at the refs, they need to send a message that if you complain, we'll allow even more contact next time you get hit not the other way around.

Players will keep complaining as long as it's effective, and sadly, Noah proved it still works that way tonight.

Luol Deng had his typical Luol Deng night

He played solid, but didn't score in the fourth quarter, and played a crapload of minutes.   Thibodeau continues to run him out there as a PF in a small lineup at times despite the Bulls depth in the front court.

He's still giving the Bulls solid defense, adding some three point shooting, and providing quality play for the team, but never quite living up to what you'd hope for him to do.  

Is Keith Bogans about to lose his starting spot?

We ask this after every game, but against the Cavs he was yanked 1 minute into the 3rd quarter for letting Daniel Gibson walk into a three pointer.   If your specialty is defense, there's really no excuse for that, and Thibodeau obviously felt the same way.

Ronnie Brewer made a huge impact with his energy

Rose may have been the offensive star, but Brewer turned this game around.   He was credited with six steals, but that only begins to describe the disruption he made to the Cavaliers offense. 

He changed the tempo of the game with his pressure and the quality of shots the Cavs were shooting took a huge nose dive once Brewer entered the game, disrupted the passing lanes, and forced Cleveland to expend a lot more energy just to set up a play.

He also hit the glass hard and scored six in the final quarter, including a couple of "Don't shoot that! ...  YES NICE SHOT RONNIE!" jumpers.

Kyle Korver set the stage for Rose's triumphant 4th quarter  

Derrick Rose closed out the game, but he was in position to close out the game because of Kyle Korver's offense earlier in the fourth quarter.  He was 0-4 in the first half, but scored all 12 of his points (and the Bulls first 12 of the quarter) in the fourth to carry the load for the Bulls as they climbed out of an eight point hole.

Korver's defense is what it is, which isn't necessarily good, but when the Bulls needed some consistent offense late in the game, he provided it and was instrumental in the victory.

Taj Gibson helped settle the team down early

The Bulls jumped out to an early lead on a 10-0 run to start off the game, but they let Cleveland right back into it as the Cavs cut the lead down to a point.  Thibs substituted Taj in for Boozer, and he came in had a monster stuff, hit a jumper, and got a dunk, and the Bulls built out the lead again.

The team seemed to settle down when Gibson came into the game and provided some defensive improvement and played pretty well with Gibson on the floor most of the night though his box score contributions were mostly over at this point outside of a couple rebounds.

Those who want to add Daniel Gibson to the Bulls got their wish

No, he won't be traveling with us to LA, but Gibson did win the Bulls one game this year, thanks Boobie.

Final thoughts

The Bulls escaped with a win, and two days from now no one will sit back and complain about whether it was a close win or a blowout win.  We'll just complain about a loss to the Lakers or cheer a defeat of the Lakers.

The game also provided us some more heroic moments by Derrick Rose to appreciate and left the team feeling pissed about such a poor effort.  In that sense, it may have been the perfect lead in game to playing the Lakers on Friday as the team won't be complacent or full of itself after barely escaping the Cavaliers.

That said, poor effort, poor energy, poor execution.  We didn't even limit the Cavs scoring due to great defense, but more so due to poor shooting on their part.   If the Cavs hit their free throws we may have lost this game (though if we hit ours it may not have been close either as both teams were down around 60%). 

Comments

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  • Rose was the star, but Brewer deserved the game ball. If Thibs is going to yank Began a minute in, then I'd almost rather have him start just to be a wakeup call if he isn't playing as hard as he can.

  • Rose was the star, but Brewer deserved the game ball. If Thibs is going to yank Began a minute in, then I'd almost rather have him start just to be a wakeup call if he isn't playing as hard as he can.

  • Sure Glad I Predicted Victory Yesterday

    Wish I hadn't predicted victory yesterday. I always manage to turn on the TV in the 4th quarter and ask myself, "Where's Boozer?".

    But Rose is something special to watch. Seeing him drive to the basket with 3 people fouling him, rising above Varejao and delaying his shot for a moment, and then tossing in a bucket was a sight to see.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    They're watching and limiting Boozer's minutes. Since his legs aren't fully back yet and he is somewhat of a defensive liability, I don't mind him sitting late especially when we're 5 down and need defensive stops.

    That Rose drive was very impressive considering he got up higher than Sideshow Bob who is like 6'10 or something. Plus, he did it with contact. Wow.

  • In reply to Crowned:

    Boozer is clearly not in game shape by a long shot, and this lack of conditioning shows up most on defensive effort.

    Never-the-less it is becoming clear that Boozer struggles with stretch 4's or 3's masquerading as 4's.

    The difference between Boozer and Gibson defensively appears to be at least as great as the difference between them offensively, only in reverse.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Boozer-Gibson Combo

    In the long run, this combo may do very well for the Bulls.

    Thibodeau seems very clear about his substitutions, sitting Boozer frequently in the 4th already.

    Boozer and Gibson sharing minutes may pay dividends during this long NBA season.

  • Bad win for the Bulls, this team needs to focus more to take care of teams that they are suppose to beat. Good to hear Rose, Noah and the guys are not happy with this win. They keep that attitude they will eventually get better and have blow out wins against subpar teams.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    This is how Jordan got the best efforts from his teammates by not accepting mediocrity and willed his teams to be the best. Rose and the team should not accept just being good and morale victories. Strive to be the best.

  • Doug I agree with a lot of your analysis, particularly in your praise of Rose and Brewer, but I think you are way off in your judgement of Boozer and Noah in this game.

    Boozer had a rough game, but he is still working his way back. He's played heavy minutes since his return and was bound to hit somewhat of a wall. I'm glad it was against the Cavs and not the Lakers. Hopefully he's ready to go again on Friday after getting some rest last night. And to say he's only been 20-10 twice is accurate, but misleading. He was 19.5/11 last year. If you think it's unfair to call that 20/10, you're focusing on semantics rather than sentiment and missing the point altogether.

    My other point of contention is Noah - the only way you can classify his game last night as 'quality' is if you just glance at the box score. Sure 13 and 14 is nice, but what about giving up 17 and 12 to Varajao on 100% shooting from the field? Not to mention 4 of those boards offensive. Also, he needed 13 shots to get his 13 points - not very efficient, and I know you are a huge stickler for efficiency. So while he did some nice things, overall I thought it was a subpar game from our All-Star-to-be center.

    PS - Did anyone else notice Thibadeau screaming this game more than most? Every time the Bulls were in the defensive halfcourt, he kept yelling what sounded like "SWITCH! SWIIIIIIIIIITCH!" Is that right? Or was he saying something else? Either way he needs to calm the eff down before he either has a coronary on-court, or the players assassinate him on the team bus in a mutiny.

  • In reply to DanFrystak:

    That's what I'm saying about Thibs. He never stops screaming at them the whole game. "SWITCH!" "ATTACK!" "WAIT!" Geez man give it a rest. It has to be hard to focus with that screaming all the time.

  • In reply to adamlweber:

    I don't think the team gets annoyed by Thib's screaming. The players have shown nothing but loyalty and respect towards him. His D scheme is predicated on intensity. He mostly just yells on the defensive side. I hear him keep repeating "GET OUT" (on 3 point shots). Since Thibs screams alot, he always has a half-horse voice. I don't even think the players can hear him much of the time, but the commentator's mics pick it up since they're so close to the bench.

  • In reply to adamlweber:

    Hey Doug, just wanted to point out that the link is still spelling Lethargic....."Lethergic"

    Oh yeah and Derrick Rose is a super human.

  • In reply to adamlweber:

    Rose's move at the end of the game was awesome. It made me think back to Doug's earlier post about would I trade Derrick Rose and this is a prime example of why I don't want anyone else for this franchise. And if his 3 continues to improve the way it has, he's going to be unstoppable.

  • In reply to DanFrystak:

    I think that Noah tries to do too much defensively, he wants to guard everybody else on the floor, and more often than not his teammates do not pick up his guy.

    Lately though he seems to be over committing to guarding the other guys, sometimes going too early, sometimes getting stuck in the middle, and sometimes doing so as a the third defender not the second.

    I don't know if he is over doing it on his own, or playing the way Thibs wants him to, but he needs to play smarter and more disciplined.

    He also seems a bit tired or winded, maybe all that pot smoking does mess up your lungs and reduce your athletic abilities permantly.

  • "Don't shoot that! ... YES NICE SHOT RONNIE!" jumpers. - I thought exactly the same thing when Brewer was taking jumpers.

  • OPINION:

    Rose saved the game, but Brewer changed it with his defense and hustle.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Thanks for announcing that it's just your opinion before stating it. I usually take what you say as cold hard fact. Thanks for the clarification!

  • In reply to DanFrystak:

    Dan,

    My pleasure.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I like that now on a Rose off night we can be carried by Boozer, and on a Boozer off night we can be carried by Rose. Either player can take over at any given time, or on any night. That diversifies our attack, and gives us more ways we can win when not everything is running perfectly.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    But we already read Doug's opinion...

  • In reply to WearShades:

    WearShades,

    Be very CAUTIOUS while doing that.

    His TALENT EVALUATION isn't the best around.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Yeah cause he's calling Rose a Jason Richardson type of player. He's totally wrong on that.

  • In reply to WearShades:

    Maybe Derrick Rose read my BREAKDOWN (on here) of how he could get more FOUL calls?

    (Attack the FRONT/CENTER of the rim and leave the reverse layup at home.)

    Wink-wink.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I think Rose goes home after games and gets in bed to eat skittles, peel apples, and read your glorious posts.

  • In reply to DanFrystak:

    In fact I hear the real reason he skipped his "The Good Wife" cameo is that he was so absorbed reading MrHappy posts that he missed his flight.

  • In reply to DanFrystak:

    No, I think that Rose's improvement is 100% the result of spending all of his free time reading Mappy Pelosi's rants.

  • In reply to DanFrystak:

    Thats probably how he cut himself... reading his posts!!

  • In reply to DanFrystak:

    On a totally seperate note - I dont understand how the team can be so pitiful from the free throw line. If players aroung the league (Rose and Deng are perfect examples) can work on extending their range and consistency, it stands to reason that you can improve your free-throw shooting with enough practice and dedication as well.

    I thinks Thibs needs to make them practice free-throws until their arms fall off. Atleast they hit their free throws down the stretch when it mattered the most.

  • when Rose's superstar performances have become almost a constant like they have, I don't mind giving the game ball to Ronnie Brewer, who I have a feeling, could finally be starting against LA

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    And speaking of his superstar 3 pt shooting, he was effectively 4/5 last night; one of his two misses was an almost-halfcourt desperation buzzer-beating heave at the end of the quarter. As the primary ballhandler, he's gotta have more of those halfcourt misses than anyone else, slightly bringing down his average

  • that game last night didn't bring me any joy until there was about 1 minute left

  • Over the last 2 weeks, Rose has shot over 40% from 3

  • Two comments:
    - Boozer has no clue on how to defend strech 4s. Jamison got hot early in the 3rd essentially because Boozer was not quick enough to switch from helping on P&R defense to going back and cover Jamison in the perimeter. Aside from the lack of energy thing, Thibodeau needs to work on rotations with him. It will help him defend Rashard Lewis, too
    - We are stuck in a dilemma at SG: go for defense with Brewer and be more predictable on offense; go with Korver and give up defense; go with a bad mix of the two worlds with Bogans. I would not go with Korver as our defense is already fragile with Rose still being blown by sometimes and Boozer still trying to figure things out. Bogans is going downhill but don't expect him to bring anything coming off the bench. Brewer could be the solution if he can consistently hit the mid-range jumper, which he has lately.

  • Luol's 3 point shooting has really improved this year. I'm halfway confident when he gets an open look from the arc now. Same goes for Rose's outside shooting. The shooting work during the off-season for these two is really paying off.

  • Ok so you're calling Rose Jason Richardson but everyone is saying that Rose is an MVP candidate. That's wrong on your part Doug cause Rose is the clear cut leader of the Bulls and last time I checked he's better than Richardson cause Richardson has never been a leader on any of the teams he has been on. All I'm trying to say is Rose and the Bulls need to have a Jordan like mentality and not be satisfied with these kind of wins, which Rose is basically saying with the comments he made about the game. So now you're insulting Rose by saying he's more like J-Rich skillset wise but everyone else is saying he's an MVP candidate, All I can say is you were wrong for that. Athletically Rose is not Richardson but overall he's miles ahead of him as a talent.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    He used a good but not great player in comparison to Jordan to make the point that Jordan was who he was primarily through basketball talent not mental talent.

    He didn't say Rose has Richardson's skill set. He said Rose is good for the same reason Jordan is good: because he can put a ball through a metal hoop, not because he'd be able to withstand the treatment in Abu Ghraib.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Whatever dude I know exactly what was said so that's all I needed to hear. I'm done with it cause now I know how he really feels about the Bulls and their talent.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    So Rose is not good enough to lead the Bulls to a championship huh? Yes there are better players than him in the league, but Rose don't have the talent to lead the Bulls to the top huh?... He was wrong for that comparison.

  • AND-1:

    Did anybody but me, notice how Derrick Rose finished at the FRONT/CENTER of the rim?

    He slid perfectly off of the defender and finished strong for the WIN!!!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    He probably did reasd your breakdown, but he probably reads it before every game, so I am not sure what's different.

    I think in that situation, was was thinking 'attack the rim', and he really wanted to put himself in a worst case situation of shooting 2 at the line. Most of the time I believe he is just thinking about making the basket, but last night's situation called for something different.

  • He wasn't better because of his physical gifts,(there were others as equally gifted, especially by the time the Bulls started winning) he was better because of his personal intangibles, i.e. work ethic, competitiveness, basketball I.Q. etc.

    His skill set was a direct result of those intagibles.

  • Absolutely, this one was beyond unbearable.

    Cleveland did everything they could to throw the game our way, especially in the 4rth, jacking up a non stop stream of the worst 3 point shots I've ever seen, and we still needed Rose to bail us out at the end when he should have been joking with the guys on the bench with his knees iced and a towel over his neck.

    The only good I take out of this game is that last year and the year before we lose this game going away.

  • A few words on last night... Blecch! Phew!

    But please note: all good teams have stinkers. The Bulls have had several this year. They cover it up by cranking up the defensive intensity in the 4th quarter and having a go-to superstar in the crunch. Great Bulls teams of the past, ring-bearers, had these qualities too. I like it. Yesterday sucked, but the good team won with 4QD+DRose. Relax and enjoy the long season, your Bullies will do this again... (Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself now.) Let's get ready for Friday!

  • He seems confident in making the wide open 3 when he has time to step into a good shot, and that is really all I hope that he does in the 3 point arena.

    I hope that he does not carried away or cocky and start jacking like Boobie Gibson.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I don't think Luol is quite confident enough in his shot to start jacking 3s, unless he gets hot.
    Lu usually stays within himself and his skillset IMO.

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