So I was sitting at the United Center, the woman next to me started a tally in the first quarter about whether the Bulls were on track to get 100 or not. I told her, there's no chance, they'll be lucky to break 90. The third period rolls around, and she starts giving me all kinds of crap about how in the bag it was.
Well, the Bulls broke 90.
I'm not sure what's worse about this 27 point epic collapse.
1: That I have to read about how it's not even the worst epic collapse in memory over and over today
2: That even when the Bulls were up 27 I didn't feel like the game was in the bag
3: That it was to a pedestrian Bucks team at home (I guess you don't get 27 point leads against good teams in the first place though)
4: That if the Bulls were in Milwaukee the crowd would have probably given them enough momentum to mount a comeback.
It was the first regular season Bulls game I've made it to this season. I took my wife, who's a notorious Bulls jinx. She actually turned to me and said "maybe my curse is over" midway through the third period. She even said "maybe". Even she didn't trust the Bulls with a 20+ point lead.
There's a million ways to describe what went wrong. What the Bulls could have done differently. I've seen Thibodeau thrown under the bus for too short a rotation. The starters were gassed, tired, and didn't have enough energy to win the game. Of course, the bench is what caused the majority of the epic collapse, so I'm not sure what other alternative he had.
Should Thibodeau have trusted his bench players more? Perhaps, but the team was destroyed every time Nate Robinson touched the floor, Taj Gibson forgot how to box out, and no one else but Jimmy Butler even has a pulse on the bench. Chicago went with an eight man rotation, dropping Belinelli and Mohammed completely from the rotation. He only played Nate Robinson a shade under 10 minutes, Jimmy Butler 12, and Taj 18.
Luol Deng was ground into dust for 47 minute minutes despite one of his worst statistical nights of the season (4/11 for 10 points, 5 turnovers vs 2 assists and 8 rebounds). I think we could have used a bit more Jimmy Butler in there given his energy has been a huge positive for the team lately, and Deng shouldn't be playing 47 minutes a night.
That said, with how bad the bench has been, it's hard to blame him. There's plenty of blame to go around. The team obviously relaxed at one point. While they still had more offensive rebounds on the night, the Bucks got the majority of theirs during their comeback destroying the Bulls on the glass during that stretch.
Obviously whatever rotations the Bulls tried weren't working even if it's hard to come up with a better solution.
If you really want to blame someone for the loss though, blame management. Blame the management that decided to put this bench together and leave the coach with a roster too thin to trust anyone outside of the starters. Blame anyone except Rip Hamilton, who for one night played like a superstar for Chicago, right up until he missed the final shot to win the game [but I don't hold that against him, he was awesome all night].
The Bulls fall to 6-7 which isn't terrible. It's hard to feel like this team will ever get a win again after a loss like this. The Bucks? They get a game to galvanize them and prove anything is possible. The Bulls? Well they get to go on to the next game and think if we can't beat the Bucks with a 27 point lead late in the third quarter at home, how the hell will we compete with Dallas?
The United Center had about as little juice as I've ever seen it. Even when the Bulls were winning big. The excitement level was about as high as some of those 20ish win seasons a decade ago. Hopefully the men upstairs are taking note. Hopefully Jerry Reinsdorf thinks twice about forcing his management to go cheap on payroll allowing situations like this to happen.
I'm not holding my breath, but a loss like this ramps up the pressure on everyone, and the Bulls need a philosophical change at the top. Maybe it takes a game this bad to cause one.
Filed under: Game Threads