Bulls top Cavaliers as Rose dominates the third period

Woops, apologies folks, but I had the pre-game thread set to 'draft' rather than published, so no stub for game talk.

Anyway, the Bulls overcame a disastrous first half where they allowed the second worst offense in the league to pile up 61 points.   Whatever Tom Thibodeau says at half time needs to be bottled and sold though, as the Bulls frequently come out and play significantly better in the second half.

That was the case again tonight, as they held the Cavs to only 30 points in the second half and broke open the game in the third quarter holding the Cavs to only nine.

The Cavs won three of four periods, but they REALLY lost the third

Derrick Rose simply crushed the Cavaliers in the third looking like the MVP candidate he is with 5 assists and 12 points in the period.   The Bulls looked absolutely dominant over the course of the third shutting down the Cavs and getting whatever they wanted on offense.

However, outside of the third, which the Bulls won by 23 points, they lost the other three periods by a combined 14 points.

Why has it been such a struggle?

It's been a long time since we, as Bulls fans, discussed a stretch of games where we won 13 of 15 and thought the team could have played significantly better and were disappointed in the two losses.

Do you really call a team that's won 13 of it's last 15 "struggling"?  However, watching this team on the court, they seem to have a hard time putting away lousy teams, frequently trailing in games in the first half or letting the teams hang around.

I can't decide if our expectations are simply too high or whether it's really reasonable to complain about this.

Tom Thibodeau knows how to adjust particularly on defense

While the Bulls have struggled against a bunch of fairly mediocre teams at times, they typically have come out of halftime making all the adjustments they need to make to win the games.  

The Bulls second half defense has typically been tremendous, and I think that's a sign of an extremely good coach.

The Bulls aren't a running team

The Bulls aren't a good running team right now.   That seems absurd with Derrick Rose at PG, but with a front court of Boozer/Thomas the Bulls have little point to breaking.

If Derrick can lead a break and finish himself then all well and good, but otherwise, their early offense isn't yielding the same type of points it would when Joakim Noah is in there.

The team's personality has just shifted, and they can't get into these up and down battles like the first half against Cleveland.   They simply aren't built for it right now.

The UC loves JJ Hickson 

Really, can we please just change the big mac promotion to be a win and drop the 100 so we can stop booing Bulls for missing irrelevant shots or free throws?  Always amusing when the fans go nuts for Hickson for making a moronic, game delaying foul though just so you can get your free hamburger that you probably won't cash in anyway.

Btw people, you can cash in your dunkin donuts coupons or big mac coupons regardless of who wins.  If you feel like being a cheapskate just go pick up all the coupons people toss on the floor after losing and get yourself a dozen donuts the next day. 

Final thoughts

The players don't seem content with the way they're winning.   Neither does the coach.   Listening to the post game comments, there's always an air of disappointment.  While the level of play probably isn't making anyone happy, it's still getting the job done at the end of the day.   No one can realistically complain about 13/15 no matter how easy the schedule is.

That said, I think going through some struggles while still winning games probably helps the team.    They get the feel of some adversity without the negative effects on their record.

In terms of seeding the Bulls are 2 losses ahead of Orlando, 1 behind Miami, and 3 behind Boston.   It will be interesting to see where they land at the end of the season.



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    Getting outscored in 3 out of 4 quarters is quite concerning.

    It would be nice if they got better vs. BAD teams, instead of WORSE.

  • In reply to MrHappy:


    Did the Bulls win?


  • In reply to joeacook3:



    They played like crap vs. a BAD team who was missing 3 key players.

    It figures you would be content ready to SETTLE for an effort like that.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    GeT a ClUe!!!! OMG greatest Lohan movie ever!!!!!


    really bulls won in the 3rd quarter, holding any team to just 9 pts while getting 30 plus is pretty darn good. Bulls seem to play like doo doo against some pretty bad teams, yet they get the win. id say thats a pretty good team.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Fans bitched during the the Bulls' last two .500 seasons even though they made the playoffs both years and seriously overachieved considering the coaching and roster inconsistency due to trades and injuries. Now the Bulls are 11 games over .500 and people are still bitching because they're winning ugly instead of blowing bad teams out of the building...even though their front line hasn't been intact virtually all season. Sure, I wish they were playing "prettier" basketball but I've been watching the NBA long enough to know that becoming a contender is a gradual process, unless a team manages to trade garbage for 2 future Hall of Famers in one summer to add to an all-star already on the roster.

    The first part of the process of becoming a contender is winning games consistently against bad teams. That's exactly what the Bulls are doing, and they've been doing it recently without their leading rebounder and defensive anchor. Plus, I don't think Noah's importance to the offense is fully appreciated. His high post passing is a key part of their half court offense. His ability to run the floor, rebound and push the rock is key to their running game. So I don't care if the Bulls continue to play like this during Noah's absence as long as they continue to win at or over a 60% clip during this stretch against sub .500 teams.

    If they continue to play poorly after Noah returns, I'll start to be concerned. But right now I'm more impressed at how much they've won despite not having an intact front line most of the season than I am whiny and bitchy about how ugly they've won.

  • In reply to magestew:

    yeah, right on, its the downside to the Chicago fans diehard, passionate relationship to their teams, the way they just don't want to win, but they want to be truly great & dominate.

    Its like that with every team except for the Cubs. Look at the Bears this years. People are unhappy, pessimistic, and cynical because they are not a dominant team. They want every team to be as good as or better than the '85 team. Bulls fans want dynasties not single championships. Blackhawks fans want more. Its the Chicago mentality of wanting to be the very best.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I am so tired of hearing about ugly losses, dissapointment, & failure to meet some expectations.

    The Bulls are playing without their all-star big man who does everything for them, & keys their emotion & energy, and they're winning. What do people expect? Look, without Noah this team has no shot to win in the playoffs. Its really as simple as that. When Noah returns & the team reaclimates, then make a judgement. They will be dominant then I guarantee. As for now, you take a win no matter how it comes.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Complaining about the way this team is playing, just underscores how people continue to under-value Joakim.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    At least with Joakim out you figure his plantar fascitis is less of a factor with all the rest.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    As long as he is not partying his ass off right now it will be good for him down the stretch

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    and of course the Bulls aren't a running team, only Rose & Noah are runners, & to a lesser extent Deng. You take Noah out, replace him with the old man, big sexy Kirk Thomas, inexplicably fail to increase Brewer's role and keep Bogans in there, Booze won't run (seems to choose not to), and thats what you get. Thibs really can't complain about transition when he continues to start Bogans. He's got absolutely no leg to stand on there. Can't complain when he doesn't hold Boozer accountable for defensive lapses & lack of effort.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I think Boozer doesn't run for the same reason he doesn't defend, he's most interested in getting the rebound.

    I don't think running is really a good game plan for the Bulls anyway, their defense is best when it has a chance to get set.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I just wonder what the hell Thibodeau is doing still starting Bogans. It has to be more stubborness now more than anything else. Like the end of that first Knicks game when the fans were chanting for Rose to come back in the 4th & he refused to give in, almost out of spite.

    And I wonder if he would be starting Bogans, if he'd have enough balls to, or even would have thought of it in the 1st place, had not the great Greg Popovich done it for 50 games last year.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    That being said I still love Thibs. I have a couple very minor qualms that I think he will iprove upon as he matures as a coach, and as he feels more secure in his job. But this one thing, the Bogans thing, really bothers me & I'm sure a lot of others.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    The Bogans thing is a head scratcher. Thibs obviously thinks Brewer is better because Brewer gets more minutes. The only logic I can see (and even this is a reach) for Bogans continuing to start is that he's using Brewer as a defensive spark plug off the bench the way many coaches designate a scorer off the bench.

    Team defense in the starting 5 would be better with Brewer, no question, but it's still solid without him. On the other hand, they don't really have a strong perimeter defender on the 2nd unit other than Brewer. Maybe he likes Deng and Noah as the defensive anchors on the 1st unit and Brewer and Taj as the defensive anchors on the 2nd unit.

    I'm not saying I agree with this because I'd still rather see Brewer starting. This is just an effort on my part to understand why a good coach would start a player that's clearly inferior to the player that's backing him up.

    If Thibs really intends to start Bogans indefinitely, the only way Brewer can force his hand is to improve his long range shooting. I think a combination of outstanding long-range shooting and superior defense would be too much for Thibs to justify not starting Brewer.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Well, accumulating blowouts during the regular season is actually a great indicator for postseason success. That said, the Bulls are 5th in margin of victory this season and 6th in SRS.

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    In reply to joeacook3:

    What this team is doing that I love is adjusting at halftime. That's a mark of a very good team. The 96 Bulls went into halftime of A LOT of their 72 wins losing (I wish I had a stat on this, I'll have to look it up later). Then they'd come out and by the end of the third the opponent was completely demoralized. They didn 't even want to be there for the fourth.

    This team obviously ain't the 96 Bulls. But they're showing the kind of strategic competence it takes to make winning a ho-hum affair for Bulls fans. You just expect this team to adjust and execute where mediocre teams just rely on effort alone. When last year's Bulls were losing all they could do was play harder with the same losing gameplan.

    So, it comes down to coaching. I can't even really fault Thibs for sticking with Bogans. I'm sure he sees the same problem we do, but they just keep winning. Usually it takes a losing streak to force a starting lineup chang, and the Bulls simply haven't had one. It's frustrating to watch sometimes but the bottom line is always W's. At 22-10 it looks like this is just how it's gonna be.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I think fans have a right to complain even though it was a win against the Cavs and Nets cause the Bulls played with no fire to them at all against 2 teams that are at the Bottom of the eastern conference. I understand that they know that they are the better team of the 2 but bottom line... they are still struggling against teams that they should obviously dominate. I still say a lot of fans are just satisfied with this team winning 50 to 55 games and a first or maybe second round exit in the playoffs and that's it, but the real goal is to try to contend for a title. I mean after Carmelo is traded to whoever... i really don't see anymore impact players in the league that the Bulls can go after and as I have stated before, the Bulls are talented but I really don't think they are talented enough to win a title with what they have now or in a year or two. And not trying to be funny but this team really reminds me of the Utah Jazz with the players that are on the roster without the good perimeter play and not much excitement outside of Rose and that's not a good look. Oh well, here's to the Utah Jazz of the east even when Noah gets back.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    It was yet another ugly win. Aside from the third quarter, the Bulls didn't play particularly well. Stop me if you've heard this before

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Nick Friedell = Captain Kiss Ass

  • In reply to MrHappy:


    Let's see Nick say those things in his lockerroom interviews.

    He's also Captain Obvious.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Yeah he usually is, some people just don't want to admit the obvious and that is the Bulls are stuck with a talented team but a team that will not contend for a championship with the team that they have and there are no more impact players in the league after a certain player is traded to the Knicks.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    and then there are other people who live their lives in constant panic mode, a constant sky is falling mentality who fail to keep in mind the big picture, who don't understand that the season is very, very long, that no one cares or will remember what happened in early January without their 2nd best player.

    No team dominates all 82 games. Have a little patience & perspective.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    And then there are fans who don't want to admit that yes the Bulls are talented but are not talented enough to win next year or in a few years unless some major moves are made. I don't think it is panic when the obvious is so clear, this team is built in the mode of the Utah Jazz from past seasons, from the coach down to some of the past players from the Jazz and Rose is playing the part of Derron Williams. Sorry but it is what it is and this team will not go far built in the mode of the Jazz with the way the east is improving. And insult to injury... the Bulls have already lost to the Knicks twice and will be greatly improved if Denver is not smart and trade Carmelo before the season ends even though he will probably be traded there anyway with the Knicks barely having to give up much in the trade. So yeah I am looking at the big picture long term of the Bulls future and to me yes they will be a very good team but not talented enough get to the top of the eastern conference meaning getting to the finals.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    While the Bulls have been winning, we aren't playing well as evidenced by teams with less talent keeping it close through 4 quarters.

    Rose has been playing well as well but, why do you and other media keep ignoring his poor shooting %.

    Take a look at his last few games he has been shooting in the low 40% and he didn't shoot well today either. Some of it can be explained by the increased number of 3pt attempts but, he is shooting pretty poorly from 2pt range as well. Last year he had a fg% of .489 now he is in the .45% range. That is a significant drop.

    He is a mvp candidate but, I can't believe how people have him as the leader or in 2nd place. What mvp shoots at .45% and has a PER ~22?

    His poor shooting is really concerning and I hope he breaks out of his slump quickly but, I do not understand why members of the media continue to ignore this.

  • In reply to postdiction:

    It's really nothing new postdiction, it's the way of the NBA to hype players even though they don't play well at times and that there are only really a hand full of players in the league that are impact players. Is Rose one of those players?... IS yet to be seen and I still fill like in order for him to help the Bulls contend for a championship, he's going to have to have better scorers around him as proof in NBA history has shown that no all star point guard has ever won a championship without players that know how and when to score. Magic Johnson had good scorers around him Isiah Thomas had good scorers around him, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, and I know I am forgetting more all star point guards but I named a few of them as an example. This is what Rose will need to get the Bulls back to championship level.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Rose is obviously one of those players

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Like I said... is yet to be seen cause he is not there yet. Can he be 1 of those players, he will definitely need some more help.

  • In reply to postdiction:

    Kobe was .459 in 07-08
    Iverson was .420 in 00-01

    Don't have the PER numbers though. I'm sure there is more, but those are the two that jumped into my mind that I remembered, especially Iverson. Those players won because of big performances at big moments. You have to admit, besides that end of game FT against the Clippers, Rose has been exactly that this year.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    It's not big moments in a vacuum. It's high volume, usage rate as a whole. Iverson's a great comparison of as a guy who can make you dizzy every time he crosses the halfcourt line when you figure Rose has the ball every time the ball crosses the line. Hence, volume.

    What's different and most impressive about Rose is that AI, Kobe in your examples did the most damage in isolation. Rose uses his teammates motion to counter help defenders' momentum extremely well. With Noah and Boozer playing the high-low together, that PER's gonna go up with their movement, especially if Deng moves without the ball as well as he has been over the last couple of weeks.

  • In reply to postdiction:

    Efficiency wise his decline in shooting has been made up for by his increase in three point shooting, so he's really back where he was last year just on an even greater volume of shots. He does need to get more efficient, but the only realistic way to improve is to get to the line more.

    He do think he has a shot at the MVP this year though because it'd be a good story. Dirk clearly deserves it more right now, but I think people are still burnt by Dirk winning the MVP and then getting upset in the playoffs, they might vote against him as some kind of "punishment" like they voted against MJ because they got bored of him winning.

  • In reply to postdiction:

    What team in the NBA has been consistently impressive in just about every game? Maybe the Spurs? Certainly not the Heat, Celtics, Magic, Mavs or Lakers ... although some of those teams were/are good when healthy which is the key. If the Bulls aren't firing on all cylinders when Noah gets back then it's cause for concern, but right now they're still winning games even if they're not doing it in style.

    I mean some people were predicting doom and gloom when Noah went out, they've gone 6-2, and now that's still not good enough, the Bulls have to win by 30 points without their 2nd or 3rd most important player. If the Bulls start coming up short you have cause to complain, but right now the Bulls have only once failed to beat a below .500 opponent (and by 1 point at that), they're tied for #1 in the league with the Spurs at winning the games they should.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    at what point do we start talking about the Spurs as record breakers?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I don't think they're as good as 29-4. They've won nearly all their close games so far, at some point they'll drop a few of those and their record will fall well below 70 win pace.

    Still given everyone thought they were done they're the real surprise so far. Wish we had their role playing guard factory, if we had a George Hill or Gary Neal instead of Bogans then a lot of the SG issue would be fixed.

  • In reply to postdiction:

    theres nothing wrong with fans wanting 100 points,nothing at all, and you don't need to cry about this in every single game the bulls score 100 at home. people do care, so it really doesn't matter if you hate free things.

    you should be talking down the fans for cheering brian scalabrine. its mocking and making fun of him. nothing wrong with 100 points.

  • In reply to sabixx:

    I agree, this is all in good fun, and I think most fans deserve it for the prices they pay at NBA games today.

  • In reply to MrHappy:


    Should be call you SCROOGE from now on? Ease up on the anti- HAMBURGER commentary.


    Will the real Doug Thonus please stand up?



  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Citing anything from KC Johnson is just terrible.

  • Thibs and Boozer keep saying stuff like 'a win's a win' and 'it's all about the W' and they're right. They have the rest of the season to knuckle down, get tight and fix all the problems they have to adjust to without Noah in the rotation. Once he's back and they're still struggling this much, that's when you should be concerned.

    Any win at this stage is another step closer to a top four seed and that's what is important -- it doesn't matter how you get there. As long as the Bulls get things going in the playoffs it makes zero difference how they win. Every win without Noah is cause for a celebration.

    Also, another MVP stat line from Rose with 28-1-11. Unlike some other players who get numbers like those, Derrick gets his team the win as well.

  • plus he gets about 10x the oppositions focus & game planning as Westbrook. Rose efficency dipped slightly after the league took notive of his MVP play.

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    Great post, Mitch! PER is definitely a useful stat, but it should be a cold day when it's used exclusively to determine MVP. And, I don't think it is. You said it yourself, Westbrook has a higher PER than Rose, but nobody's talking Westbrook for MVP are they?

    BTW, Derrick's exactly where I thought he'd be this season, verging on history. At some point a stat junkie like Hollinger's gonna up and realize only 8 players in NBA history have put up seasons of 24 and 8. Among them, Lebron James, Gary Payton, and Oscar Robertson who spent most of his career there. MVP company to be sure.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Well, only six players have had .500/.400/.900 FG%/3P%/FT%. Chris Paul is .497/.447/.910 with 7.1 Win Shares on a team of goo with 20 wins. Not saying he's my MVP vote, were I to have one, but what extends the "conversation" to Rose includes CP3 to a comparably valid argument. If CP3's scoring is too low for you in volume, a certain guy with 24+ PPG, 7+ APG, and 6.5+ RPG on a certain 26-9 team is about on par with Rose, right?

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Hey Reese,

    How's your .500 prediction working out?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Just like Doug... you did not pay attention to what I said before, I said if the Bulls did not improve their play at the beginning of the season and stop letting teams get big double digit leads on them that they would "HOVER" around the .500 mark, and I never predicted anything so next time pay attention and don't quote me to saying something that I never said. The games that the Bulls are winning are still not impressive but to some delusional Bulls fans that's OK. All I can say is keep holding on to those hopes until the playoffs start and if the Bulls are still playing how they are now... watch what happens, it will not be a good ending.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Let's just say there isn't much hovering going on, even with injuries.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    seems like you're the one not paying attention

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Because actually first, you said they are "a 500 team to me right now" when actually they were a .600 team
    Secondly, you said "they will hover around .500 with the way they are playing". Hmmm, well congratulations on remembering your use of the word hover, but not only have they played the same way & are now closer to 700 than anything else, but it still sounds like a prediction.

  • Well, there is True Shooting%, which incorporates FT%

  • PER already penalises players for missed free throws, but just like with missed field goals, it doesn't do so at the rate of a possession being worth ~1 point. In this way it probably over-values high usage players, but it's a tough one, because alternative measures like David Berri's metric he uses in the Wages of Wins where he does penalise players for misses at league average possession rate undervalue them.

    The other key thing to remember with free throw attempts is they often have value even if you miss them because you're putting the other team into the bonus, and putting the other team's players into foul trouble.

    If anything I think PER probably more fairly rates free throw attempts at their true value than shooting from the field.

  • I see what you're saying, but are you only talking about FTAs out of the penalty, Or all fouls committed in the act of a shot? Because, say, a reach-in foul while in the penalty sends a player to the line but three points weren't the max because there was no negated FGA missed.

  • But it already takes into account the opportunity cost of a free throw over a field goal attempt is my point, it probably does it at too low a rate for your liking, but that's a general problem/feature of PER.

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