The Bulls plane didn't get in until 4 am. I realized the team might be in trouble in the morning when Boozer tweeted around 4:30 that he was finally getting to go to sleep. The fact that they had an early game the next day on a back to back and a late plane wasn't a good sign.
The Bulls looked tired, especially Luol Deng who managed to play 43 minutes, and simply didn't muster much energy against the Nets. Boozer complained about being benched in the 4th quarter, but when Kris Humphries makes you his bitch because you're too lazy to walk 10 feet from the hoop and contest a shot you deserve to be benched in the 4th quarter.
In the end, the Bulls didn't take care of the glass, they didn't knock down their free throws, they didn't get back on defense, and they lost the game on a broken play by Sasha Vujacic who previously looked as if he was playing 6th man for the Bulls.
They had a shot at the end, but Rose never got a quality look off as the defender didn't buy his fake to the hoop and stayed with him, forcing Rose to shoot a highly contested three that never came close.
Derrick Rose didn't play so well as the box score
21 points on 13 shots sounds pretty awesome, granted he used up another three possessions getting to the free throw line, but he was sloppy with the ball all night as well, and when you add up the five turnovers, he now had 21 points on 21 possessions with just one assist.
He also played a mere 33 minutes of game time due to how well the bench played without him in the fourth quarter to close out the game. Rose played excellently to close out the game, as the Bulls had a chance to win due to his three point play followed by a three pointer in consecutive possessions, but still suffered through a fairly subpar game by his standards.
Carlos Boozer's defense must really be getting to Thibs
Part of it was the matchups, the Bulls had a ton of success going small and increasing the tempo. Something they've really struggled to do without Joakim Noah in the lineup, but a large part of why Boozer sat was the fact that he absolutely sucked the life out of the team.
He didn't bother to box out on defense, he shot poorly from the field on offense, and his slow saunter back on defense rather than getting back to protect the hoop was one of the Bulls biggest problems on the night.
It's not like Boozer was worthless, he still had five assists and scored 12 points on 10 shots, but he turned a role player into a stud on the other end of the court.
Luol Deng continues to play like the marathon man
At one point in the fourth, they showed Deng who looked like he was about to have an out of shape attack on the court. This isn't to say Luol is out of shape, but seriously why can you not find some time to give him a rest? Derrick Rose was on the bench for 15 minutes, but you can only find 5 minutes of rest for Deng?
Deng had a solid night generating offense and scored the ball well, but he also continued his season long stretch of crappy free throw shooting knocking down just 3 of 6 from the line. The Bulls as a team knocked down 20-30, and 10 missed free throws really hurts in a two point loss.
What more is there to say about how bad Keith Bogans is?
When a guy is about to get an open dunk Keith Bogans is there with the hustle to make sure he catchs up to him and touch fouls him on the arm to give him a three point play rather than just an easy two.
It takes a lot of work to chase down a guy like that and make sure he gets the extra free point, but Bogans has managed to pull it off three times in the past two games.
We have to live with it. The starting thing is what makes it feel worse than it is. Coming off the bench for 15 minutes and playing mind numbingly bad wouldn't be as noticeable, and if you're going to play Bogans for 15 minutes doing it with the starters isn't a bad idea.
I still hate it.
Kurt Thomas's lack of speed caught up with us
Kurt did another fine job on Brook Lopez, but he much like Boozer, his lack of footspeed and inability to get back in transition hurt the Bulls. The Bulls simply allowed too many baskets on fast breaks and early offense because our big men couldn't get down the floor.
I won't harp on Kurt too much though, again, did a great job on Brook Lopez, and there's little more you can ask of the guy. Relative to expectations he's still playing at more than double to triple mine.
C.J. Watson had another great game
Much like last game, looking at the box score wouldn't do justice to how well Watson played. The team looks so much more energetic when he's out there. The primary reason is likely that he's playing with the reserve bigs, and Boozer/Thomas are slowing down the offense so much.
However, Watson's done a nice job of ramping up the tempo, getting everyone involved and finding some of his own offense. He calmly knocked down both free throws at the end of the game to bring the Bulls into a tie with 11 seconds left as well. If we had won the game, he'd have been a contender to get the game ball as the Bulls rallied when he came in.
Ronnie Brewer brings the energy
Brewer doesn't necessarily fill up the points column, but there's never many zeros in his box score as he plays so actively. He generates steals, blocks, moves the ball well, cuts to the hoop.
The team is feeding off of his energy right now, and he's really helping that bench unit. His minutes were up to 30 in this game which is closer to where they belong, now if we can only get Korver's up to 30 and Bogans down to zero we'll be all set.
Kyle Korver missed early came on a bit late
He missed his first three shots, but knocked down two of four three pointers in the fourth quarter. I guess it's something, but Korver needs to shoot better. You can tell he's disgusted in his own shooting whenever he misses a shot his head dips.
I've said it for awhile, the Bulls need to work Korver more with Rose where he gets quality looks rather than trying to make him Rip Hamilton, when he had those looks in this game he shot much better.
Taj Gibson barely plays after coming out of his slump last game
The move somewhat surprised me, especially when New Jersey went small. Gibson could have given us a big in a fast lineup if we had him run up and down the court quickly, but the Bulls opted not to go that route.
For what it's worth, he wasn't having a particularly good game in the minutes he did play, but given that we're willing to ride Bogans through 15-18 minutes of tortuous, stab your eyes out, kicked in the groin hell each night, it's hard to make the case that he's benched that quickly for poor play.
The Bulls played a fairly atrocious game out there, the Nets tried as hard as they could to give it to the Bulls, but it just didn't happen. Still, there were many things conspiring against the team for them to lose this game, and they still had a chance to win on the final shot.
I've been saying for awhile that you can't win them all, even against bad teams, and that the Bulls were going to drop one of these games soon, well this was the game.
They simply need to get the defense back and make sure not to look past Philly due to Saturday's game against Boston.
Watching the team recently, you can see how much the lack of Joakim Noah hurts the team. His absence stops the first team from breaking and makes it more difficult for them to get back on defense. Kurt Thomas has filled in admirably, but the team is missing an entire dimension to it's offense and defense right now.
It becomes so clear when the second team comes in and all of a sudden the tempo is much faster, and it feels like Bulls basketball. The Bulls will have to continue to grind out games, win ugly, and do their best until Noah gets back. All things considered, the team is 7-3 without Noah, and that's not so bad.