20-0 4th quarter run saves Bulls from embarrassing defeat

Okay, I suppose no defeat is that embarrassing if Derrick Rose is sitting. The Bulls simply aren't a great team without Rose and will likely lose a couple games to teams they'd normally slaughter if he were playing. On top of that, good teams drop games to bad ones all here and there regardless. Still, when the bulls fell behind for the majority of the game, it was hard to watch.

Then John Lucas happened. Again.

Now to be fair, C.J. Watson finished with just about as good a game as Lucas, only marred by four turnovers, but otherwise shot the ball well and scored nearly identically. He just did his damage in the first half while Lucas struggled. However, when Lucas entered the game for Chicago in the fourth things immediately turned around.

After Lucas knocked down a three and Ed Davis completed a three point play for Toronto, Chicago went on a 20-0 run to turn their long held deficit into a laugher with Lucas scoring 13 in the quarter. Watching the game, it felt like Toronto was always "this" far from collapsing and in the fourth they finally did.

Luol Deng started to have a good game

Deng was hot out of the gates early in a scoring battle with DeMarr DeRozan. It looked like we might see a monster game from Luol, but he fell off quickly. After knocking down a shot with 7:15 left in the second quarter for his 13th and 14th points, Deng remained scoreless until intentionally fouled at the end of the game [why the hell was Toronto intentionally fouling down by 8-10 points? Really? You wanted to drag it out that bad?]

After his hot start it was a flurry of missed shots, and Deng finished the game shooting sub 30% from the field again. Deng is shooting just 38.7% from the field (113/292) though 42.6% (44/104) from the three point line since the injury. His two point percentage is a paltry 36.7%.

(yes this number was calculated incorrectly on realgm if you are a realgm reader)

That's really bad.

It is nice that he's generally made up the horrific low two point percentage by knocking down a good clip of his threes, but it shows that his finishing around the rim has really taken a hit. Deng isn't able to drive the ball as much and so many more of his two point shots are the long mid range, off the dribble variety [otherwise known as the worst shot in basketball].

What can Chicago really do though? They need Deng to score, because they don't have many scorers, but he's simply not able to get the Bulls more of the inside looks that he was able to earlier and his overall efficiency is suffering tremendously for it.

Kyle Korver delivers the hot sauce

The big run came from the bench mob plus Luol Deng, and while everyone contributed defensively, on offense the Bulls were carried almost exclusively by Lucas and Korver. After Lucas knocked down a bunch of shots for Chicago, the Raptors tried to force the ball out of his hands, and it went to Korver who scored 10 points during the 20 nothing run including a tough two point fade away over the outstretched arms of the Raptor defense.

Korver's value always comes from deriving offense, but in this stretch he wasn't simply taking open threes that someone else gave him, but it was the run off the screen and generate a shot Kyle that did the Raptors in.

Ronnie Brewer kept the Bulls alive in the third

It may not be as big a highlight, because the Bulls were falling apart, but Brewer helped keep Chicago alive in a third quarter where they couldn't buy a bucket. He even sliced through the lane to create a shot off the dribble through a couple of defenders on play.

It's a step outside of his normal comfort zone for Chicago, but they desperately needed someone to step up on offense, and Brewer delivered six points in the third.

Bulls rolling towards a top two finish

The rest of the regular season is really about whether Chicago can hold of Miami right? With 17 games left to play, the Bulls have a magic number of 10 on the second seed (and division) outright [9 for a tie pending the tie breakers]. With 17 games left, the Pacers or Magic could win out, and Chicago would still likely stay ahead of them.

It's also great to see Chicago prove itself over a tough stretch [not that this game counts, but in general]. Prior to the recent run of games, the Bulls had lost many of their games against top notch competition. However, wins over the top three seeds outside of themselves while Derrick Rose rests show that Chicago isn't merely feasting on weak competition.

The Bulls have put their stamp on the NBA so far this season, and the only question that remains is whether they can continue to do so in the playoffs.

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  • I mentioned the comparison of John Lucas to John Starks. It's funny because JL3 gives the same nasty scowl after he cans a big shot, and flings his arms around like an emboldened midget just the way Starks used to do.

    Of course Lucas is not the hops and defensive player Starks was, but he's also not the dirty player and borderline pyschopath either.

    I've loved Thibs demeanor overall this year, but I think he went overboard for savaging JL3 for not working the clock with the lead late in Toronto, and chucking up another one. Yes, he is a chucker per se, but that's why he's out there, to score. Sure he should know when to work the clock at the end of the game, but he also to a large extent won you that game.

    I just don't think when a guy explodes with studly scoring in a clutch second half to implode another team at their house, is the time to savage a player for making a mental mistake at the end. It shows you are being a lessor person and immature not to have perspective, and realize you have to value and moderate your outrage with a mistake by the fact that he just basically won you a ball game.

    I still like Thibs, very much so this year overall, but that was 'Old Thibs' from last year, and complete bullshit IMO. It's not good for Lucas or the team comraderie wise or from building positive energy. On the other hand JL3 does need to learn when to reign in the 'mad bomber' to be a help only and not a harm with reckless msitakes in the playoffs. But do that in a meeting, not by ripping his head off after he wins the game for you.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I didn't see the game, but if Thibs did that he has a problem. Yes, he is a perfectionist and maybe for the players' sake as much as his own, he wants them to be the best they can be. However, he needs to get the cost/benefit ratio right. Most of us work harder if we feel appreciated! And we listen better when we feel the one counseling us is on our side.

    Maybe that is the case with the Bulls players, I do not know - I don't have the inside info. But it looks overly harsh from the outside.

    Lucas is a piece that can change a series. Unlike some of the Bulls in the ECF last year, the Heat sure don't intimidate Lucas! Probably even Thibs doesn't! Even if Lucas goes off on the Heat every other game, that could get the Bulls to the finals.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I didn't think it was a big deal. I saw the game and at the end Thibs had JL3 come over and talk to him. He wasn't barking or screaming at him. JL3 looked fine too, neither one of them looked too serious/concerned.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Look at what Nowitzki said yesterday about Odom..
    “As a shooter, as a player, if you get a little hesitant, it’s over,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “Once you start thinking in this game, that’s tough.”
    That is so true especially in NBA playoffs. When teams have scouted and know strengths/weaknesses....it is confidence and fearlessness which matter. That's why not to compare JL3 can help the Bulls and LeBron can doom the Heat.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    JL3 won the game for us last night but, that doesn't mean he is above being talked too for not playing common sense basketball. Those are the kinds of mistakes that cost you games against better teams.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    As usual RoadWarrior, right on the money!!!

  • God bless Lucsanity3!

  • Something has to be done with that guy ! He deserves more responsibilities. Please don't tell me he'll only be our 3rd PG when Rose backs.

    Lucsinsanity !!!

  • Luol Deng is injured and fatigued. Thibs needs to use Jimmy Butler to reduce Deng's minutes to low-mid 30s. Jimmy deserves playing time, and can be a useful contributor on The Bench Mob.

    If Bulls advance deep in the playoffs, it will be in large part because The Bench Mob outplays opponents' benches - and different players step up in different games.
    Bulls success WILL NOT be because Rose/Deng/Noah crush the competition averaging over 40 minutes through four 7-game playoff series.

  • In reply to Edward:

    We are beating a dead horse, but Thibs use of Deng in the face of obvious evidence that his play is suffering badly is bordering on Insanity.

    Deng is all but admitting that his arm is practically falling off, he should be playing less than 30 minutes if he plays at all, but Thibs is nothing if not stubborn. I don't see that changing ever.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Stubborn coaches normally have shortened careers. If Thibs wants the players to learn, he needs to do the same. Too many bb savy observers have the same complaint about this.

    In fact, last season he rode the players hard in the close of the regular season, and they never played to that level in the playoffs, not against Atlanta, nor Indiana, nor Miami. Plus the substitutions were lacking. He's a strong coach in many ways, but stubbornness can be an Achilles heel.

    At this point, Pax needs to have the conversation with Thibs.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    At what point do we place a small amount of responsibility on Deng himself? When will Deng have the nerve to tell Thibs he needs some rest throughout the game and cannot play these 18-24 minutes stretches without rest twice every game?

    Deng stood up for himself when he took 2 games off earlier this month. When will he simply ask out of games at a certain point when he needs a blow? Regularly, Deng is so obviously fatigued like a boxer dead on his feet, or a marathon runner who has hit the wall.

    Remember how Deng had such a spring in his step when he returned from missing 7 games when he initially injured his wrist? Deng looked as lively as a teenager. That's the Deng we need in the playoffs - well rested.

    If Deng was a little shrewd he would realize he needs to plan for his own rest and demand it, because Thibs will never allow it.

  • http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/ct-spt-0322-bits-bulls-raptors-chicago--20120322,0,6924504.story

    Here is a Tribune article outlining what I've beeen saying for a week or two - Rip's and Rose's injuries are more serious than Bulls originally admitted and Bulls will be lucky if both can get healthy just before the playoffs.

    imo, this is nothing to worry about. This Bulls team doesn't need a full month to jell with all the starters healthy - they can do that in 3 regular season games, and the 1st round of the playoffs can serve that purpose as well. Plus, The Bench Mob can step up instantly when called upon. The Bench Mob has consistently done that all season and they are ready.

  • Blessing in disguise. The Bulls are going to head into the playoffs fresh & ready to roll, and having everyone together will boost them into a new confidence level that we have seen only a handful of times this year.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Yes, could be, partially...
    Rose will be fresher from the rest, and he is certainly banged up and suffering from an accumulation of related injuries - turf toe, back, groin.

    For The Bench Mob, it is a blessing in disguise as they are getting minutes, and gaining confidence.

    But Deng will not be fresh as Thibs is grinding him into exhaustion like a horse on his way to the glue factory.

    And Rip has no concerns over freshness, his two concerns are rust and frailty.

  • In reply to Edward:

    the horse comparison on Deng is apt, unfortunately he is more quarterhorse than thoroughbred to begin with.

  • with all these injuries piling up from the perimeter players, I see the Bulls making some changes there. Look at how the Milwaukee Bucks offense as become high octane with monta ellis added and the Lakers are looking really sharp with Ramon Sessions. We need a YOUNG scoring two guard. I was hearing that maybe Chris Douglas Roberts wants to join the Bulls in the summer(he is currently in Italy). This guy scored 30 points against the Heat and Bulls in 2011. Maybe add Hinrich who is more solid compared to Watson and gives Dwayne Wade fits on defense. Teams are upgrading their weak spots, our weak spot is the wings/perimeter. Having Hinrich, CDR and Butler joining Rose, RIP and Deng should be a more well rounded backcourt/perimeter.

  • Good come back win by the Bulls, and yeah this one was tough to stomach for most of the game. I don't think the top seed matters to the Bulls right now for the playoffs. They need everyone to be healthy and ready to for a very competitive playoff push in the east cause it will not be easy for them imo.

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