Have you ever seen so many dunks by one guy in your life? You could create your own youtube highlight video of Aldridge dunking just from last night's game. The Bulls defense was simply embarrassing in this game.
The Bulls played poorly, but well enough to win this game, they lost it due to three primary reasons.
The Warriors and Trailblazers have put out the blue print for how to
defeat the Bulls defense. Run at them.
The Bulls have looked
absolutely helpless to stop transition and early offense in the past two
games. Carlos Boozer and Kurt Thomas can't get back fast enough to
help and Taj Gibson was frequently late getting back even though he has
enough athleticism to do so.
This was the Portland Trailblazers, one of the slowest teams in the NBA, running all over the Bulls scoring 18 of their 100 points in transition, and that total doesn't count all of the free throws sunk because the Bulls fouled a guy in transition.
The Bulls defensive scheme has fallen apart recently, as their offense did enough to win this game. They shot nearly 50% from the field, but they couldn't do enough defensively to win.
Besides the obvious problem of transition, the fact of the matter is the Bulls lost this game at the free throw line.
Poor free throw shooting has plagued the Bulls all season long, and while three of the seven misses were by Omer Asik whom we expect it from, Deng and Boozer still combined for two of five from the charity stripe.
The Blazers shot 37-40 which shows that they certainly had a bunch of home love from the refs while the Bulls shot 11-18. We shot 22 less free throws yet had more than double the misses. Consider that gap in a four point game, and if the Blazers had merely shot their team average, they'd have only hit 32 of 40, and the Bulls would have won by a point.
If the bulls had knocked down 15/18, they would have tied the game. The free throw disparity both in attempts and percentage determined the outcome of a game where the Bulls realistically played very poorly, but still well enough to win.
The Bulls couldn't knock down open threes
There was a frustrating stretch at the start of the third when the Bulls offense generated wide open three pointer after wide open three pointer, and no one could knock one down. The Blazers built up a big lead through this stretch, and while the Bulls chipped away at it, they weren't ever able to fully come back.
These were shots with no one in the same zip code. Deng <clank>, Bogans <clank>, Rose <clank>, Deng again <clank>. It was terrible. What makes it worse is that these were largely corner threes, which should be the easiest to knock down from the field.
On the night, the Bulls were only 4/16 from the three point line. They're a team that averages 6/16 or so, two more threes and the Bulls win. Especially when the threes were as wide open as they were tonight, the result was especially disappointing.
Individual player recaps?
I don't even want to do them, because for the most part guys played pretty well offensively, but after witnessing that abomination defensively, it's hard to discuss that.
I'm not sure what the response next game will be, but a week ago, I asked whether the Bulls defense was legit or a paper tiger built off of easy opponents. The Bulls have shown they can play great defense on some tough teams at home, but they've been embarrassingly bad on the road.
For a team that looks destined to play on the road in the 2nd round of the playoffs and going forward, that's not a good thing.
I will throw this out there though, Omer Asik had a great effort out there.
I believe all four of his makes were dunks, but he was extremely aggressive in going hard and fast at the basket and didn't have the hesitation that had caused him problems recently.
When he plays without hesitation and just looks to dunk the ball hard as soon as it's delivered to him, then he no longer hinders the team offense.
I'm curious to know how Tom Thibodeau will react to these two losses. Does he chew the guys out for terrible defense? Does he go over the film calmly? One thing I know is that the defense is going to get plenty of work in the next practice. The Bulls now have a tough road ahead and need to win the next two games to salvage this road trip.