The Magic played bad enough to let the Bulls back in the game. They couldn't hit the broad side of a barn for much of the game, but their shooters came through enough to win, and the Bulls fell flat on offense with only Carlos Boozer showing up to play.
After a smack in the face where they almost lost to the Bucks last night, the Bulls couldn't bring it together tonight but instead continued with the same patterns. They played hard. It would be easy to say they lacked energy, but after a poor 1st quarter they largely shut down the Magic with their defense. They simply couldn't knock down shots.
Throw out the 1st quarter, did the Bulls play great defense?
I've been debating about this. There was a stretch where I believe the announcers said the Magic went eight minutes without hitting a field goal. You figure you have to be doing something right if that's the case. That said, I think the Magic's lack of scoring had more to do with poor shooting and execution than effort by Chicago.
Orlando seemed to miss a tremendous amount of quality looks leaving the Bulls in the game. Granted,they hit 11/26 from the three point line, but they had so many open threes that didn't fall that I still felt lucky it wasn't far worse. Especially when they had Anderson shooting them.
The Bulls also struggled on the defensive glass frequently. Perhaps their job was made difficult due to all the long rebounds, but in the second half it felt like the Magic were pulling down offensive rebounds on 50% of their misses. Granted, much of Orlando's offensive rebounding in the fourth quarter amounted to very little as they didn't seem to score that many second chance points.
The Bulls really lost the game due to the first quarter and a hot stretch at the end of the third period where Richardson knocked down a couple of threes. Outside of that, the Magic really couldn't get anything done on offense, but it was enough.
For one night, at least, we can whine about Richardson
Jason Richardson is not having a particularly great year. He's been relegated to spot shooter where he launches open threes and just about nothing else. When you see the quality of looks that Richardson shoots then look at his 37.9% from the three point line it simply isn't all that impressive.
It was impressive enough last night though. Richardson was knocked down 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and knocked down the two key threes at the end of the third that swung the momentum back to Orlando after Chicago threatened to build a lead. I'd take Richardson over Hamilton this season, but looking at what he's doing in Orlando right now? I'm glad we don't have him for the next three years after this season.
Richardson did leave the game with an injury after knocking knees with Jameer Nelson on a Bulls inbound player near the end of the game and did not return.
Derrick didn't get the whistle
Derrick shot just four free throws, a rather small amount for a guy who had to be lying on his back six or seven times after diving layup attempts. During one stretch he drove in and drew contact on three straight possessions without getting a foul call. A situation made more ridiculous by the three point shot foul Hedo drew during the stretch.
The Bulls weren't reffed out of the game, but Rose's abysmal night doesn't look so abysmal if he gets a few borderline calls and 6-22 for 17 points becomes 6-19 for 22 points by shooting 8/10 free throws. Rose has certainly gotten more vocal in chirping at the refs about the lack of foul calls, something which you hate in other players but love in your own.
Rose also disturbed me again by trying to fight over the top of screens but then not doing so quick enough and not recovering to leave his man run free towards the rim. Either the Bulls are doing a lousy job hedging, this defense is flawed, or Rose is not executing well enough. It looked mostly like a combinations of options two and three.
The Bulls shouldn't be fighting over screens on mediocre shooters, and they aren't properly picking up their interior rotation and thus leaving the opposing team's shooters open. They also found themselves out of position on the defensive glass due all of the switching.
Kyle Korver, you make me sad
Kyle was tremendous in the first half, but let's face it, when it's a game in the second half, no one cares what you did in the first half.
I know no shooter is always going to have it, but Korver missed his last five three point shots and three of those were plant both feet, line up the shot, bring it up slowly, focus, and shoot style wide open. Just no excuse for Kyle to go 0-3 with those types of shots. He should hit that one at a 70% rate.
Seriously, this was the game. Kyle had the chance to sink five threes in the fourth quarter and if he hits two of those open threes then the Bulls go on to take this game. Even one of them and the Bulls would have had at least a 50/50 shot at it. Just very disappointing.
Carlos Boozer stepped up
For all that went wrong, one big positive on the night was that Carlos Boozer stepped up and did exactly what the Bulls want him to do. He became the offensive creator with Rose on the bench knocking down shot after shot. In fact, the stretch in the fourt with Rose on the bench was probably the best offensive stretch the Bulls had all night as they feed Boozer over and over.
The Magic even gave Boozer the superduperstar treatment by sending double teams at him frequently when he was in the post. Carlos quieted down towards the end of the game as the Bulls stopped going to him, and he was getting it done largely through jumpers [which means I'd have been scared he wouldn't have kept it going anwyay], but it was a great effort by Boozer tonight.
Boozer also played some one on one defense on Howard and acquitted himself fairly well in the process. For a guy ragged on constantly due to his defense, he did a nice job maintaining his position and trying to force Dwight into tougher shots.
APB on Luol Deng
Has anyone seen him? He's been missing since the Bucks game. Did he miss the bus in Milwaukee? Reports were that someone who looked like Deng was spotted at the United Center, but no one watching this game believes them.
Much like everyone outside of Boozer and Gibson, Deng was a trainwreck. He shot 1-9 on the night for five points making a mockery of my midgame tweet that I wouldn't trade him for Paul Pierce.
Joakim played tough
I thought he did a great job on Howard, especially in the second half. He forced a boatload of turnovers on the night. He played help defense well, defended Howard well, and continued to hit the offensive boards effectively despite matching up against the league's premier defensive rebounder.
It wasn't quite as gaudy a night in the box score that he's had recently, but he's continued the trend of playing very well and did so even with a tough matchup.
Tough loss, let's get the next one
Chicago finished up their four game in five night stretch with a loss, and while losing sucks, the Bulls were probably due for one and many things combined to make this a likely target. Their schedule slows down the rest of the season though. No more four game in five night stretches remain, and they only have four back to backs remaining.
While home heavy, Chicago's next stretch might be the most difficult of the season. After the Jazz on Saturday they play New York, Miami, Portland, Philly, and @Orlando. Five quality teams [perhaps stretching it with NY] in a row. We'll see what the Bulls are made of over the next week and a half.
Filed under: Game Threads